I have just finished the first draft of my new business book, LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture. One of the more interesting challenges has been trying to determine the characteristics of a high-performance culture. There seem to be as many theories as there are culture change consultants, so separating the wheat from the chaff has proven to be hard work, but interesting.
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. –Yogi Berra
One of the more interesting and thought provoking, and I believe relevant, work has come out of the Great Place to Work® Institute and the original work done by Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz. Their fascination with what makes a great workplace began when, as business journalists, they were asked in 1981 by an editor to write a book called The 100 Greatest Places to Work in America. Not knowing anything about culture or much about business performance, they went around to numerous companies asking employees, “Is this a great place to work? Why or why not?” The replies, as you would expect, were varied, but over time tended to reveal some surprising consistency.
Basically, a great place to work is one where employees trust the people they work for, take pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with. And they have amassed, over the past 25 years, considerable data on the relationship between a Great Place to Work (Trust, Pride & Camaraderie) and business financial performance. And in 1997, Fortune Magazine began its annual 100 Best Companies to Work For survey based on the data from the Great Place to Work Institute.
To me this all makes a great deal of sense, especially when I look at what is happening at this moment in the US Congress. The blatant and petty infighting, name calling, and brinkmanship for the sake of ego and power trips is literally making the American voting public sick, and angry!
Trust in government and elected officials is at an all time, rock bottom low. Pride in our country is being replaced by factions who would rather fight than work together. And the camaraderie of “true statesmen” is nowhere to be found.
Here’s an example of the American voter no longer trusts Congress. The current government shutdown over the budget ceiling means hundreds of thousands of government employees are going without pay for an indefinite period. However, guess what? You guessed it! Congress is exempt. They still get paid!
The people who shut down the government because they refuse to work together for the higher good, who put government employees in financial jeopardy, are exempt from the hardship and the rules.
It’s the Golden Rule gone crazy: Those who make the rules keep the gold!
Trust and Pride? It’s going to take some real courageous leadership to pull America out of the trash heap and towards respectability. The rest of the world is looking in disbelief and wondering: “What happened to the greatest democracy in the world?” And when major countries are starting to stockpile Renminbi instead of Dollars, you know trust is at an all time low.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress