Competitive advantage is highly sought after in the professional world. To many, it represents career success, organizational growth, and even that ever-elusive change that CEOs and entrepreneurs look to make in their industries and worldwide.
Debuting groundbreaking products or services that have never before existed is what most business leaders, entrepreneurs, and organizations as a whole tend to focus on; however, the truth is that organizational culture is what provides the biggest competitive advantage in any industry! Company culture cannot be stolen or duplicated by a competitor, but by not prioritizing it, you as a business leader, manager, or executive can drastically stunt the growth of your employees and organization as a whole.
I spoke with a close colleague of mine — Roxanne Emmerich, CEO of The Emmerich Group — for a recent Opportunity Hour about how to properly elevate company culture and in turn, how doing so will rapidly move the profit and growth needles forward in sustainable ways.
Roxanne is a transformation expert, having written a New York Times bestseller titled Thank God It’s Monday! offering guidance on creating workplaces that employees love.
In her research to write this bestseller that has transformed the way several organizations approach elevating workplace culture and growth, Roxanne discovered that many employees believe their performance is top-tier even though their productivity, joy, and desire to stay at their organization have faded. Roxanne refers to it as “rocking their jobs,” but the fundamental problem of workplace culture is that stats such as resignations and turnover do not reflect this positivity.
People change jobs in droves these days, with nearly 47 million leaving their jobs voluntarily in 2021! Resignations often pertain to quitting their bosses and companies, not their jobs or careers. Too often the problem of disjointed workplace culture and resulting turnover falls on the individual, especially younger generations. But as much as I discuss in my Anticipatory Leader System regarding problem skipping and identifying the real problem, this is a misguided assumption.
The real problem here is missing confidence: most employers are not providing it to their employees. Everyone at an organization must know their job purpose, and this lack of confidence-building in employees is caused by everything from not understanding where an employee ties into organizational profit to the fact that an employee doesn’t understand what the organization’s culture even is, let alone how they are a part of it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to educating employees on new processes or new ways to work in their department, static, one-way, and general pedestrian training programs are implemented as a sort of bandage to jump-start organizational culture. For instance, Roxanne Emmerich and I have observed with certain clients that they instill sales training that doesn’t create sales, service training that doesn’t improve business services, and so forth.
The issue is actually quite obvious: Nobody and no program is teaching people how to be in the workplace, and furthermore, there is nothing that ties it all together and builds it as a franchise system. This leaves employees feeling bored, coasting through each day in mediocrity, and leaving a negative impact within the organization that affects the growth needle. Essentially, they are coasting downhill, but there is a base to every hill, and every single employee will eventually reach it.
As a manager, leader, or C-suite executive, put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Ask the question they likely ask themselves: Have I been coasting or am I learning new things all the time? When you learn new things, you are excited! This is the result of knowing there is still room to grow. A career is a forward-moving process, and as I state frequently, we spend our entire lives in the future. Coasting toward a finish line seems finite and takes away incentive.
Passively receiving the future in agile ways causes a lot of uncertainty, both companywide and in the hearts of each individual employee. Employees who believe their company is floundering will seek more fulfilling work situations, even if they are doing the same work elsewhere.
Actively shaping the future builds a solid organizational culture that reassures employees of a lot of things. Employees prefer to work for an organization that takes away a lot of the “what ifs” that plague their minds — What if I lose my job? What if sales stagnate? What if new software replaces my role? It is vital that you teach employees how to be Anticipatory, as it puts them in charge of actively shaping their futures and the future of the organization — all by pre-solving problems and finding solutions.
But what Roxanne Emmerich has found both through my Anticipatory Organization Model and by working with clients is that you must help employees feel progress every day. Instant gratification is prominent in every aspect of life, but that does not mean you should give an employee a pile of information all in one sitting. Incremental learning through practical instruction that is applied right away is how to foster growth.
Leading employees to be more transformative in their thinking and exponential in working with disruptive digital technology and engaging them in being part of the bigger picture, is like caring for a garden — it grows and is harvested over time. To boot, you now have a united Futureview® where employees and leaders alike see that anything is possible.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.