“Join a company with an exceptional leadership team, strategy and culture. If you find that, you will have the opportunity to learn from the best and apply your strengths immediately… You spend a good portion of your life at work, so you better give it the best you have to offer. If you can’t say that you’re proud of what you’re doing, then you’re either doing the wrong kind of work, or you’re the wrong kind of person.” – Rob Glander, President & CEO of GWC Warranty
In an interview with Agent Entrepreneur Magazine, Rob Glander offered the above advice to newbies in his field. While referring to those within his own specific industry, new hires, veteran employees, C-suite executives, and business owners from every corner of the private market could learn something. For example, he mentions specifically that aspiring employees should gravitate toward organizations strong in three areas: leadership, strategy, and culture.
These are the three elements, he suggests, that define the ability of an organization in his field to offer its employees the best in skill-acquisition, industry-specific education, and ongoing learning–as well as opportunities for employees to exhibit their strengths and apply themselves immediately. Nurturing these elements will ensure that employees are engaged, have a clear role and purpose in your organization, and believe wholeheartedly in the mission and direction that your company is headed in.
Modern businesses and leadership teams have had to shift from dealing with Gen X and Baby Boomer sentiments and mentalities to dealing almost exclusively with Millennial new hires. With them, Millennials bring to the table their own quirks, and are often accused of having issues when it comes to commitment, motivation, and what many would otherwise refer to as “adulting”. While some see only the negativity in non-conformity, others will recognize why Gen Y thinks the way they do and use that information to their advantage, allowing them first to connect with their workforce on a fundamentally human level. Once this is established, they’ll be able to sell their organization’s strategy as well as solidify and control the narrative of the company’s culture.
The reason that leadership is so important a factor for businesses has to do a lot with Millennial trust. The information age has conditioned them to be more skeptical of everything, and abuses of power seem to be scrutinized much more intensely now than ever before. Transparency, fairness, and selflessness will go a long ways. Simon Sinek explains it well in his Ted Talk “Why Leaders Eat Last”, but the reason that fair and balanced leadership is so fundamental in setting up strategy and culture is summed up well in this picture.
This means more than just “the means by which a business achieves its goals” and how you’re looking to make your numbers in Q3. Indeed, business strategy involves what you’re going to do, as well as how you’re going to do it–the problem is that your employees (and customers for that matter) want to know “why” you’re doing what you do. Most businesses, unfortunately, will not be able to provide any other answer than “to make profit”, and there is absolutely no way you will get motivated and dedicated employees by telling them that the sole reason they’re working for your company is to make its leaders money at all costs.
If, on the other hand, your strategy is to “provide the world’s best customer service in the most green and environmentally sound way possible,” you can get employees behind that. A company’s strategy and mission share the same heartbeat, and the “how” being just as important as the “why” is explained, once again, by Simon Sinek. When employees believe in the company’s strategy, they will strive to be the best harbinger of that strategic execution, even in the face of rapid developmental change.
Culture is the lifeblood of any company, essentially constituting the soul of a business. Employees make up that soul. Culture inherently affects and intertwines with all other aspects of a business, but culture and strategy are tied together. People want to work for companies with great culture, but not if those companies’ strategies are immoral or go against what they believe. As such, company culture should focus on purpose and learning.
A culture of purpose is explored in the strategy section above, but it’s different. Your strategy helps to portray an organization to the world, while internal culture how your employees view the company as well as themselves. A good example of a global, revolutionary shift in company cultures comes in the form of a rise in protections against bullying and sexual harassment around the world. We would do well to remember that laws such as these were once scoffed at, just as many global cultural initiatives today receive scrutiny.
A culture of learning is supported by recognition of a rapidly changing society where newly developed business applications and technologies are developed and subsequently outdated faster than anybody is able to master them, let alone learn them. For businesses to succeed in this climate, they’ll have to provide opportunities and trust in employees to learn and grow with the company instead of looking to hire mythical candidates with just the right combination of qualifications. Holding out for these non-existent candidates can hurt a business far more than help it, and, some say, the reason why we’re still dealing with the skills gap in 2016.
Tying it All Together
Companies that excel in these three aspects will not only see the best employees on the market gravitate toward their business, but, in effect, they will see the best work in the industry coming from their company. While leadership, strategy, and culture are important aspects of an organization, nobody is more important or integral than a business’s employees. Build the best employees, and it’s only natural that success will follow.