Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.– Frances Hesselbein
Have you ever had a job you loved and felt empowered to fulfill your responsibilities? If so, what was it about your co-workers, your manager/supervisor, and your work environment that made your experience so positive? Perhaps you've never felt that way about a job and, instead, you've dreaded heading to work every morning. Your boss might have rarely recognized your efforts. It's possible you weren't sure how to perform your job, but felt uncomfortable asking for help. Your co-workers might have seemed like characters from the movie Mean Girls. In this perfect storm of the forces of disengagement, we suspect you didn't last too long at that job. Or you felt overwhelmed with too much to do, with too little support, as depicted in the illustration on the next page.
According to a 2013 survey, more than half of workers in the United States were dissatisfied with their jobs. This statistic is alarming; after all, we spend approximately one-third of our waking hours and energy at work, plus dissatisfied employees tend to find new employers. Because we spend so much of our time and energy at work, the organizational culture can have a profound impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. If work cultures support interdependent, prosocial behavior instead of individualism and competition, we believe the business world, indeed our everyday lives, will be more positive and productive for almost everyone.
Any organization's mission will benefit from employees who care about their work and their colleagues. It's a win-win scenario. What factors influence employee job satisfaction? Aside from the obvious – job security, pay, and benefits (e.g., health insurance) – employees report that feeling safe at work, having a positive relationship with their immediate supervisor, and communicating openly and cooperatively with other employees and senior management contribute significantly to their work satisfaction. The bad news: In many organizational cultures, managers/supervisors struggle with these very issues, resulting in unacceptably high rates of employee dissatisfaction and turnover and a climate of distrust.
Imagine these disgruntled employees as supervisors who are responsible for mentoring newly recruited employees.