While it is true that employees with some frequency change jobs, and sometimes roles within a company, to get away from a non-functioning relationship with a manager, there are times when employees leave the company culture. Company cultures have personalities, quirks and nuances that make them unique. No two are alike and like managers, sometimes the cultures are not self-aware or a good fit for high performing individuals.
Company cultures evolve, develop and change just like managers grow and develop through experiences. Company cultures, however, evolve based on what is perceived as values by employees and leaders. Sure, companies have their mission and vision to define value and goals but these values are colored by the myriad of personalities and interpretations within a company. Sometimes, the culture, as defined, is aspirational, while in action it’s a lot muddier and difficult to navigate.
It’s easy to say that people leave their managers. However, when you see a series of high performing individuals leave, you have to ask the question, is it really management or is this a symptom of our culture? This is not an easy question to ask when companies set values such as inclusive, collaborative, supportive, and innovative. In an age where diversity and inclusion are buzz words, companies really promote the positive aspects of their eco system and may turn a blind eye to other symptoms within the environment that may be reflective of unhealthy behaviors that are inadvertently supported by the culture.
Self- awareness is not something that applies to individuals, it also applies to companies. Companies, through their leadership teams, need to have a full understanding of what employees perceive the culture in action to be. Having real dialogue with employees about how they perceive the culture and being vulnerable enough to ask the tough questions: “are we really collaborative; do you feel included AND that you belong; do you think others feel like they belong; in our supportive environment, do you think you have a voice?; is there anything that gives you angst about working here?” and not discounting these as individual experiences, but really taking in the information and identifying themes will give leaders the opportunity to get a sense for how the culture, in action, is affecting employees.
So, leaders, ready to start a real dialog about company culture?