How Fitting In at Work Can Help Bridge the Strategy/Culture Gap
When I first saw the movie Office Space I didn’t get. I was a musician, I had never worked in an office, let alone for a big corporation. Sure, I had lots of jobs; restaurants, construction, medical guinea pig, you name it, but they were all a means to an end.
In the band I knew exactly what my role was and how I fit in. It was us against the world. This is the attitude that will keep you going when you are stuck in a van with 4 other guys for hours upon hours, when you are sleeping on a stranger’s floor, and when you are really, really hungry. It did keep us going, but alas all things must end.
After all of that was said and done and I picked up the pieces of my broken dreams I ended up joining the corporate work place.
Eventually I would work for 3 Fortune 500 companies in a row. And I quickly came to understand that I really had no idea how I fit in, and it didn’t seem like anyone else did either. I was often confused and disengaged. This new world was a maze of politics and red tape; a place where creativity went to die. Suddenly Office Space became one of my favorite movies! I even keep an Inotech mug on my desk as a reminder.
So, why is this? I think it’s because we are all fumbling around in the dark looking for meaning…searching for how we fit in…clawing around blindly for a foothold. Hoping, in quiet desperation that someone will turn on the lights and show us the way.
We NEED to fit in. It’s ingrained into us as humans. 10,000 years ago if we didn’t fit in to the group, if we didn’t add something that was important, we would be ostracized. And that meant ending up as Saber Toothed Tiger bait.
Honestly, it’s not much different today.
Think about it, as the world struggles with more and more isolation do to the nature of Social Media what do we have left that brings us together….work.
The thing we all do. The thing most of us dedicate the majority of our time to. But it needs to be something more.
Simon Sinek had it partly right. A “Why” is the start. But there has to be more…
Even when an employee understands “Why” they also need to understand the “Where”. As in “where do I fit in?” “Am I really a part of anything important?” The search in the dark begins…
And it’s in this search when our anxieties, our Egos, our deepest inner fears take over. This is what causes the real problems in organizations. It all happens in the space between Strategy and Culture.
Where does my job fit in?
Does what I do everyday matter?
Does anyone even care?
Leaders forget, your people can’t “hear what you are thinking.” What goes on behind closed conference room doors, in executive offices, and at board meetings is a mystery to most employees.
So they start to guess. And it is this guessing, our natural inclination to make up stories, to build opinions rather than seek the truth. This is how bad Culture starts. When organizations aren’t being mindful and intentional about it a Culture will develop anyway and it most certainly won’t be the one the leaders wanted.
This is what will eventually manifest itself in undesirable behaviors…sometimes devastatingly so.
Organizations need a new way of linking Strategy to Culture. They need to bridge the gap between Strategy and Culture with a new communication strategy. One where each employee knows exactly what needs to be done, how to do it, and how their individual contribution directly affect the organizations overarching strategy.
If all the employees are moving together, purposefully, towards a group goal work would be challenging, engaging, satisfying, and fun. It’s good to fit in.