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How to become the No 1 Workplace.
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“We want to become the number one workplace.”
Not an uncommon statement but an uncommon state for most organizations.
And it’s not because of the blurry and arbitrary criteria of what’s needed to become the number one workplace. No, the main reason for not ending up at least aspiring to the title of being the number one workplace is that people are not willing to make the effort needed. And by people, I mean management.
The harsh truth is that to reach a state where you can aspire to be the number one workplace, short-term, you have to sacrifice parts of your bottom line. It’s simply an investment. I say short-term because if you invest your money mindfully, you will increase revenue long-term. Like buying a new machine, it hurts your bottom-line short-term but will increase productivity long-term.
“Spotify seems like such a great place to work.” That’s one of the most common things people say to me when I’ve told them I have worked there.
And yes, it was!
Like many other tech companies, it was a great employee experience. And it’s intentional and by design. They’ve taken deliberate steps to become a place where people like working. It’s not easy. It’s not (all) about investing in employer branding efforts to “just make it look great.” The same goes for many other tech companies I know of.
Instead of focusing on those employer branding efforts, they focus on management having a clear vision and setting their priorities set straight. Investing in their leaders. And those things are hard. It requires courage and resources. It requires daring to break the status Q and challenge ways of working.
And it has to start from the top, which requires humble senior leaders that can set aside prestige and pride, knowing that they might have done 123 leadership courses already, but need to do 124. Why? Because they are role models and they still have things to learn.
Still, when talking to leaders who aspire to become “more like the tech companies,” they are often unwilling to go the full distance. They usually turn to HR to ”fix this” without giving the proper resources and, more importantly, are less willing to change themselves.
So what to do? I believe our job is to become pilots. Help them steer and navigate through shallow, short-term thinking. This is also hard for us; we must know what the future requires, understand the market landscape we operate in, and challenge and push our leaders without losing trust. It’s a balancing act that makes Phillipe Pettit’s efforts seem like a walk in the park.
So how does one become this pilot? I’m a big believer that sharing is caring.
Talk to great HR people! Take a cup of coffee and discuss HR.
Read stuff that is future-looking, and discuss the things you’ve read. Sign up for courses to learn something new.
Dare to experiment. Dare to fail. Trust your education and gut.
Build a support network that can cheer you on when driving change because change is hard. It requires courage to challenge a short-term leader, and you will need support.
By doing this, you will hopefully become a great pilot, helping leaders navigate the shallow waters of short-term thinking and thus (hopefully) making your workplace great!
(And yes, I know this sounds way easier than it is, but I see it as food for thought and a driver to start talking to other HR people!)