The harsh truth is that we spend more time at work than doing anything else in our lives. This even when most of the other things like hanging out with the family or watching ‘The Walking Dead’ are things that most people would prefer. For most people work is a mandatory evil, something you have to do in order to be able to enjoy the better side of life. But this does raise a question, does it have to be like this?
Laszlo Bock argues in his latest book ‘Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead’ that work doesn’t have to be an awful experience. Certainly there will always be jobs that more or less suck, but he does make some valid points that could make any job suck just a little bit less.
Overall his message is clear and simple. Treat your people really, really well. This doesn’t mean pampering, but rather putting your trust in them. Or as Laszlo puts it “All it takes is a belief that people are fundamentally good— and enough courage to treat your people like owners instead of machines. Machines do their jobs; owners do whatever is needed to make their companies and teams successful.” It’s shocking how companies still today don’t trust their own employees. Companies are filled with internal rules and bureaucracies. Information is not shared, failures are not tolerated and real power lies in the hands of the few. This sort of top-down hierarchy approach is based on the assumption that managers somehow know better. That what they tell people to do is always the right thing. I think Steve Jobs said it best: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Yet, most companies spend abundance of time and money to recruit remarkable people just to tell them what and how to do their job. If this really is needed then you’re hiring the wrong people in the first place. As Laszlo points out, you should only hire people who are better than you. I’ve witnessed how third or fourth best candidate have been selected over a far more superior candidates, just because the manager was afraid that they would otherwise be challenged. How can anyone honestly see anything good coming out of this?
Ask yourself: What makes a company? It’s not products, services or revenue. It’s people. And great people tend to do great things if allowed. Therefore, hiring is the single most important thing a company will ever do. In today’s world attracting the right talent is no easy task. Depending on the field it can be nearly impossible. So how do you hunt down the right people? Well, you don’t. The secret is to concentrate on building a company culture where great people want to work in and they will come to you. There’s a lot of talk about Millenials for whom salary and vacation is not enough, but work has to carry a deeper meaning. But you don’t have to be a Millenial to appreciate meaningful work. There’s a huge difference between someone who is just doing their work and someone who is on a mission. The latter are acting like owners, they’re dedicated, intrinsically motivated and possess the potential to amaze.
Still many companies see company culture as an unnecessary expense, and only because they fail to understand what culture means. It’s not fancy offices, indoor slides or bouncy castles. It’s much more and most of it is free. It’s all about creating an environment where your people can flourish. Start by tearing down bureaucracy, trusting your people by not restringing information and encouraging open dialog. Smart people are smart, so don’t try to fool them. Instead embrace transparency and togetherness. Give people a reason to care. By doing so you will hire remarkable people, retain your best talent and improve overall employee productivity. In short, make people happier. No job ad or description, however innovative, will ever be as powerful of a tool in attracting new talent than your own – happy – people.