Let your workers make decisions on culture and company identity
You cannot have a disruptive company with conventional culture. The culture is what produces the disruption yet many want to hold on to their old cultures and they expect disruption to happen. No organisational transformation can happen without a transformation in the thinking of the employees especially in their attitude towards the company. Indeed, there is a direct correlation between enthusiasm, sense of ownership and performance.
Let us take something as simple as job titles. I read about a company that had a Chief Instagram Officer. This was not at the middle or junior levels. This was at the top management with a seat at the table alongside other C-suite officers. A study of job titles in a changing world will reveal exactly how much the world is changing.
There's a Director of Chaos at Berkshire Hathaway. Instead of having a service technician, Apple has the title of Genius for people who do the technical work in retail stores. Instead of having a receptionist, another company has Director of First Impressions. Another one has a Director, Ethical Hacking who helps financial institutions identify the vulnerabilities of their Web applications and networks. Mapinfo Corp has a Master of Disaster who helps federal, state, and local authorities in the United States access the information they need to recover quickly from calamities.
Other new generation titles include the Catalyst replacing the Executive Assistant, The Creator of Opportunities instead of a Business Development manager. There is also the Digital Prophet whose job it is to predict global trends for AOL.
CEO'S are not left out of this. Instead of the CEO title, some companies have opted for titles such as Chief Transformation Officer, Chief Trouble Maker, Chief Amazement Officer, and Chief Cheer Leader. There is even a company that has a Chief Getting S#!t Done Officer! Some companies have even gone to the extent of allowing their employees to create their own job titles based on their job descriptions.
What in the world is going on? Are people crazy? The truth however is that it is not really about the title. It is about taking ownership of the job and the company. It is a proven fact that people perform better when they have a feeling of belonging and a sense of identity. In the book
by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-wright there is the story of a hospital that was a deathtrap. In fact so many bad were things in this hospital that if a person was transferred there it was usually to go and die.
Then the unthinkable happened. Things turned around so dramatically that the hospital had a 10-year streak of being named by Fortune Magazine as one of America's best places to work. What happened?
It all started when they got new leadership that understood the power of identity. People were allowed to be a part of the transformation. It was not a top to bottom thing. The new leadership at the hospital created an environment where a cleaner could tell you with pride that it was his idea to put a flower pot in certain place. This was replicated in all the staff. They all had a story of their contribution. They all felt important and knew that their voice mattered and that their day-to-day life was indeed making a difference. The result was the dramatic transformation.
Glassdoor is a job and recruitment website which also allows former employees to anonymously review companies and their management. After reviewing over two million companies they were able to put together a list of the things that the best places to work have in common. These include amazing communication, a clear goal, strong people development programmes, an iconic leader and a place where people matter.
The Glassdoor report also found out that satisfied employees create wealth for companies. They are not satisfied because the company was wealthy. The company was wealthy because the people are satisfied.
The need to belong to something, to be part of a bigger purpose than self is such a deep seated need in human beings that studies have shown that rejection or the perception or threat of it can sometimes produce reactions that are similar to those of physical pain.
When people own a part of the organisation even through something as seemingly minute as a title that they love and which gives them an identity, their performance will shoot up. When people work in an environment which allows them to grow in ways that benefit their careers and personal life, enthusiasm and ownership are the natural byproducts.
To disrupt the market you need to give your customers an unforgettable experience and convert the customers into ambassadors but to do this, you must first give your employees a senses of identity. Give them a sense of purpose and mission. Give them a place where they know that their voice too matters. Think of it, if the person that you pay and who interacts with you every day of their life is not excited about you why should the person who pays you and who interacts with you on a need to basis?