Dear employee,

If you were to give answers to the following questions, what would you say?

  • How do you feel about working for your organization?
  • How will you describe the way the organization treats you as an employee?
  • What will make you leave the organization?
  • What are the organization’s values and what do they mean?
  • What specific behaviours are aligned to the organization’s values?
  • What is rewarded in the organization?
  • Will you be comfortable sharing your answers (or thoughts) with your boss or any senior person in your organization?

If some of the answers are negative (or you do not know the answers) and you cannot have an open discussion about your concerns with a senior person within the organization, you are probably disengaged, and disengaged employees are not productive.

You probably work with an organization that touts the fact that ‘employees are their greatest asset’. However, on a daily basis, the behaviour you observe from those who should know better is totally inconsistent with this. For example:

  • You have a great idea on how certain ways of working or services could be improved, but the last time someone within the organization brought up a bright idea, he was told it was not his job to come up with ideas. And yet ‘innovation’ is one of the company values or
  • Whilst the company says ‘customer satisfaction’ is important, you very often see your managers grumble anytime they have to attend to customer requests, and they never return customer calls or
  • Your company values ‘respect’, yet employees are treated diff­erently depending on how senior they are or
  • Anytime you try to be ‘proactive’, you are denigrated as being ‘all knowing’ or
  • The only people recognised and rewarded are those who achieve results through individual e­ffort, yet ‘teamwork’ is supposed to be encouraged.

It is therefore not surprising that you have very little emotional connection with the work you do and the organization you work for.

You recap the interview and how you got recruited into the organization. You recollect that no questions were asked about how you ‑t into the organizational culture, or whether or not you were aligned to their values. The focus was solely on technical competencies and previous experience.

You then remember your first week at work. There was no formal induction. You were literally on your own and had to find things out for yourself. No one shared the company’s mission, vision, goals, strategy and vision; yet, you are expected to contribute to the success of the business. A lot of what you learnt was from informal interactions with peers in the organization. As a result, for a very long time, you had no idea what the performance expectations were and how they would be measured.

Very often, you have to close from work late; not necessarily because there is a lot of work to do, but more because it is perceived that those who stay longer are the hard working ones. This you find very amusing because most of the time, those who stay on do virtually no work. Many are undertaking private courses and use this time to study, whilst others just ‘kill time’.

So here you are, musing over your current situation, wondering how come your once exciting career has become dull and why it takes so much eff­ort to get out of bed, go to the office and work with passion to exceed expectations.

The answer is simple. It has nothing to do with your capabilities, but everything to do with the culture of the organization you work for. The way the organization works, the relationship it has with its employees and customers, its values and environment has a­ffected you and the way you work. Trying to make a difference is like swimming against the tide, and sooner than later, you give up.

Dear employee, like many things in life, you have a choice; you can either stay or go.

By the way, the next time you are job hunting, spend as much time researching the company’s culture as you would spend researching the company’s product and profitability. Where possible, go beyond the company’s website. The bottom line is that, you are unlikely to be successful working in an organization whose values do not align with yours, and sooner or later you will be disengaged.

I strongly urge you to share this with your HR Manager and ask him or her whether he or she is con‑dent that all the high performing employees do not feel the same way you do.

I wish you well.



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