The other day, I imagined propping up a magic mirror á la Snow White and asking if people - my clients, friends, family, alas the world - if we all will one day be happier on the job?
I imagined granting a “fairy tale” style wish that would squash cortisol levels in working communities, minimize stress, and uplift our workforce to focus on purpose and joy.
I imagined dreaming up a potion that per a recent article on causecast.com, would ensure leaders began measuring emotional currency in companies in combination with all other forms of coinage.
I imagined happiness, purpose, joy - a whole person return on investment for being a global citizen.
For several months now I have been imagining these scenarios – and as a byproduct - I have found myself repeating the same thing to my clients:
“Businesses are like mirrors; they reflect the people working inside them.”
In my 12 + years in academia and philanthropy, two sectors transfixed on mission and vision discourse, I found little attention paid to this idea of mirroring. Perhaps because it’s a concept I have coined – or perhaps because we often choose to look AT the mirror instead of IN the mirror.
For years now, I have walked through the corridors of companies with missions integrated into the building design, mantras on the wall, vision statements enveloping the space in construction planning sites even. And I often thought – wow, this is cool – but so what? How do the employees really feel? Do they buy in? Do they believe? How do you know? And more importantly, why does it matter?
When I read lists like The Best Places to Work – I often ask myself the above questions. And I push myself to think there is more to this than cool work amenities like food trucks and nap rooms. I think about 21st Century job satisfaction and these ideas of leadership, career growth, compensation and alas – work/life balance – all of which are vital concepts. But then I get back to the basics – and I think about people.
I think about how attitudes are infectious. How joy is an aspirational value. How meaning is a uniquely human pursuit.
When someone says to me: “I loooooove what I do.” I often spiral into thoughts like: I want that job. Maybe I should pursue that path? Or, how do I get that feeling?
Alternatively, when someone says to me, “I will never work for that company.” I often come to realize it’s NOT because of the product or mission. It’s often the leadership. Or a reputation of “dysfunction” – a rumor-mill of shared employee experiences.
So when marinating the other day, I started to think the Forbes - style list really should be titled – The Best People to Work With.
I started to think that the big question is not, how to build or improve company culture?
Rather – how can you be the kind of person other people want to work with?
It trickles down from there.
I tell my clients, that in order to talk about and subsequently enact positive culture change you have to start with the person(s)in the mirror.
I mean, even Michael Jackson knew that.