Workplace culture issues stem from the dissonance between what’s best for the individual, what’s best for the team and what’s best for the organization. On the flipside, alignment of these three leads to an extraordinary – happy and productive – workplace. The key: loyalty and commitment to what’s best for the organization must trump team and individual agendas. Teams need to yield to the organization while individuals need to accommodate and sacrifice for the team.
HOWEVER this only works when what’s best for the organization is also what’s best for the team and the individual. In order for individuals to yield personal interest, the organization must consistently demonstrate it has the best interest of its team members. Organizational consideration can look like real cream for coffee and soft toilet paper, firing toxic high performing employees and profit sharing.
When teams band together for the greater good, they bond. They bond over their shared experience, commitment and loyalty. In moments of struggle, they take pride in their moral courage. Often I have heard employees say they would rather be part of a team that took a 10 percent pay cut rather than suffer from the survivor’s guilt of experiencing a co-worker lay off.
One of the most destructive decisions a company can make is providing unwarranted preferential treatment to a single employee or department. When an organization puts an individual first, it undermines the whole foundational “we’re all in this together” agreement. This results in morale mutiny. Just think about the last time you gave a highly skilled toxic employee a raise in hopes they would turn their attitude around.
Next time you’re stuck focusing on an individual employee challenge, ask the following:
What’s best for the success of the organization?
For the team?
For the individual?
Can we simultaneously accomplish all three without tying ourselves in knots?
And if not, what are the facts of the misalignment?
As I’m in the throes of writing my upcoming book, “Culture Works: How to Create Happiness in the Workplace,” I’d love to know, what’s one specific culture challenge you hope I cover? Please respond here or e-mail me at email@example.com.