Where do you start when it comes to changing the culture at your workplace and putting an end to the vicious cycle of poor results, low morale, disengagement and dissatisfaction? This is a question that will eventually have to be addressed by any leader who is up to anything worthwhile. However, if you have ever tried to do just that, you know finding the right answer is much easier said than done.
There is overwhelming data that consistently shows 80% of employees are not engaged in their work, and their lack of satisfaction and enthusiasm about the work they do impacts not only their productivity, but just as importantly, their health and well-being and the quality of their relationships. Sadly, I know from my experience over the decades, having worked with thousands of people across four continents, most have accepted this monumental epidemic as the “way it’s always going to be.” They have come to believe that work is not supposed to be fun and it is normal to be stressed out and unmotivated. This is why Fridays are so celebrated while Mondays are loathed. As a society, we have simply accepted that work will always be a burden and there is nothing any of us can do to change that.
If you have ever taken on a substantive change or major transformation, you know that such pursuits always almost always invite some resistance and hesitation. If the initiative has been tried and failed before, you have even a bigger challenge on your hand. You might hear the initiative being referred to as another “program of the month,” or be told by someone in the organization that they have “tried that before and it didn’t work.” Needless to say, convincing naysayers to become enthusiastic advocates for change in situations like this can seem like an insurmountable challenge. But there are some things you can do that can help, and I’d like to suggest a few in this post.
We live in a world in which the vast majority of people are simply tolerating their jobs and we think it’s normal for things to be that way. Very few people are excited about going to work, something that holds true regardless of industry or place on the organizational chart. Although there are some solid statistics that show this is the case, you don’t have to look further than the people around you or your friends—or even in the mirror—to know that most of us aren’t celebrating the opportunity to go to work and participate in making a meaningful contributions to our teams and clients while growing and feeling recognized and rewarded.
Anyone with the slightest amount of objectivity would agree that we look at ourselves, other people, our circumstances, and everything else around us through filters that we have consciously or subconsciously constructed. We simply see what we look at and find what we look for, and take what we see as “the truth” for granted while rejecting every other perspective as wrong, no matter how much evidence there is to support them. But knowing this makes no difference when we feel strongly about our worldview. When we are right, we are right and that’s that! We make up our mind which politician we are going to support or which department we are going to give our allegiance to, come hell or high water, and we end up doing everything we can to point to the speck in “those other people’s” eye while ignoring the plank in our own. We all have the tendency to act as if a foolish consistency is some kind of virtue, rather than “the hobgoblin of small minds,” as Emerson put it.