Imagine this scenario: You have done your homework. The company you are interviewing with sounds good. The people seem nice. The work seems interesting. You are delighted when you get the position. Your enthusiasm continues through the new employee orientation. They talk a good game. You hear, “We live our values of integrity, collaboration, leadership and open communication.” You can’t wait to get started.
After a few weeks on the job, you begin to notice how people truly work. You work for a management team that is directive and squelches new ideas. You see co-workers who appear to be doing as little as possible and when they do work, they are largely following orders. There are longstanding conflicts between employee groups that undermine the company’s ability to get work done. Some people protect their turf and withhold information while others engage in power plays. You quickly learn what the “real rules” are. You try to live your values of integrity and hard work but over time you feel uncomfortable: the group is shunning you for not conforming.
Sound familiar? It was my story in some of the places I worked. And, it is the story of many of the people I have worked with in organizations to which I have consulted. Over the past 17 years, there have been instances when I left a workplace thinking, “How do they get product out the door?”
There are real reasons why this type of workplace exists. Given today’s fast paced economy, change is part of doing business. It’s the norm for organizations to restructure, reorganize, merge, acquire new businesses, downsize, and develop new product lines in their attempts to be competitive and/or gain market share. In the book, Beyond Change Management, Anderson and Ackerman Anderson (2001) write that “The vast majority of today’s change efforts are failing to produce their intended business results”(p.1). They offer that organizations are good at devising and driving the “how” and the “what” and often neglect the “who.” Failed attempts at change have ramifications beyond the financial cost to the company. Poorly executed initiatives impact the workforce, resulting in low morale, burnout and cynicism.
Or, there might be other organizations, which recognize that things are not working as they should. Some might apply quick fixes. Others might be more comprehensive in their approach. Unfortunately, many of these organizations don’t wait for one initiative to work before they move on to the next, fueling perceptions of “flavor of the month.” I remember one client saying to me, “I am a good employee. I will do what the company wants me to do. But it’s hard to know what they want when they are always changing expectations.”
Why Flourishing Culture Consultants? I have seen both sides of the coin: wasted human potential at work and an energized workforce that takes pride in what they do. I believe people matter and I plan to work with organizations to create a culture where people feel good about work and where they go the extra mile — in other words, where they flourish.