We at Timely Transformations are intensely interested in those individuals and teams looking to make big changes – big improvements – in their lives and in their working environment. Perhaps like many of you, I have an operating assumption that young Silicon Valley engineers and most HR employees tend to enjoy ‘the best of’ corporate cultural practices, so I was a bit taken aback to see in this month’s edition of 'HR Magazine', an HR Jobs Pulse Survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management, in which nearly half of the HR respondents who said that they plan to seek new employment in the near future said they would be “seeking a better organizational/corporate culture.”
That bears repeating – in bullet point format:
• HR professionals who plan to seek new jobs
• Nearly half
• Seeking better organizational/corporate culture.
At first blush, this is like a jolt to the cerebral cortex: HR professionals are changing jobs to seek a better organizational/corporate culture? What? I would guess that most employees assume that HR professionals are responsible for making sure that the existing organizational or corporate structure is healthy/good/admirable/tolerable. We count on them for that and if they desire to ‘abandon ship’ what does that mean for the rest of us?
Well, before I offer up commentary on building a better corporate culture – which is where I’m planning to end up - allow me to say a couple of things about this survey result:
1. there are many disciplines of HR (ie IT, compensation) – not all of which are focused on
2. it’s possible that someone (s) in HR – whether deep down in the trenches or very close to
the top of the organization - could be aware of the need for and possibility of
improvement but have no real power to drive change. Some HR professionals do
complain of having to take the ‘blame’ for poor cultures while having no real ability to
‘tame’ those at the top.
Still, I believe that HR survey data like this – when combined with a January 2014 Towers Watson, et al, survey which found that 70% of employees are not engaged in their current work - should be a clarion call to drive cultural re-examination and simple managerial and teaming improvements in the modern workplace. Can HR professionals be considered the canaries in the mines?
A leadership team – and I am talking about leadership at all levels of management – has the ability to make simple and free (!!!) changes – no consultants needed – which can improve operating conditions in the office. In an interview published in 'Success' magazine’s “Corner Office” column, Jim McCann, Founder and CEO of 1-800-Flowers, offers six such management philosophy recommendations, five of which I redact here:
• Be positive: use positive language and reduce negative language.
• Be constructive: make and solicit positive, constructive suggestions every day.
• Be outcome-focused: find positive lessons in every adverse situation. Use the past only
for positive lessons.
• Be reflective: look for important lessons. What could you have done to make
• Be relentless: seek positive incremental improvement everyday.
Positivity, respect, introspection and behavioral adjustments are free but not effortless. Driving them into the heart of the organization will take focus and commitment. On the other hand, if these simple concepts are ignored, talented employees will take their skills and hearts elsewhere, “seeking better organizational/corporate culture.”
Why not make a commitment to a better environment, better employee retention, better engagement and relatedly, better results? This can happen on your team.
Regina Darmoni is a co-founder of Timely Transformations, a partnership dedicated to professional and personal development training for improved team and individual productivity and profitability. She is a former Fortune 100 tech & business executive who invites you to ‘like’ Timely Transformations on Facebook and/or visit our home page to see if we can be of service to you. An update to Regina’s book, ' Real Mentors Tell You This', is being released in the fall of 2014.