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Organizational (mis)Behavior

Amazon's 'Work Hard. Have Fun. Make History" motto in large print on one of their warehouse walls.

The news cycle has quickly settled back into the news of the day with a declining stock market and outrageous acts of Presidential candidates. The early part of last week was dominated by a New York Times article that took us Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace. The article gave accounts of mostly former employees and their take on a seemingly abusive culture that was rampant within the company.  CEO Jeff Bezos fired back quickly that the company outlined in the article didn’t represent the values of the company he founded and such behavior wouldn’t be tolerated.

Sadly the conversation has fallen off, but there are a number of take-aways for those in the workforce:

  1. If a company has over 1,000 people, you are virtually guaranteed to find folks dissatisfied with their job. It could be the hours, the lack of resources, or something else that they perceive to be going on. Whether any of those are the reality or not is debatable – but you can’t have a debate over a person’s feelings.
  2. The management closest to you will set the stage for you to be happy or not. The CEO and senior leadership set the tone and strategy for the company. In a large organization, it takes a large number of leaders broken down into product or division groups to staff, obtain resources, and execute against those strategies. How well they are able to secure resources (people, money, office space, etc.) to carry out the mission sets the base environment for their staff to operate in.
  3. Every employee is different. What motivates one individual will not necessarily motivate the next. Some are motivated by money, others by working on cutting edge technology and still others by getting recognized at the highest levels.  Leaders, managers and even team leads with no HR responsibility need to understand what motivates each person reporting to them and set appropriate mechanisms in place to get the most value from each individual.

Number 3 is one I have pondered quite a bit as of late – the world we are in is changing. The workforce is seeing the first millenials take root, and the world they grew up in was much different than past generations. The 2015 Deloitte Millenial Survey found a majority of this group worldwide was looking for “a sense of purpose” when they joined their current employer. If you are working to cure cancer or feed the hungry this is easy to offer, but the line becomes blurred when you try to apply it to functions like corporate IT or finance.

Leadership styles will have to evolve just as cultures have. Additionally, newer companies that are seemingly busting at the seams with growth will need to keep in mind one question – “How do you keep the company off the front page of the New York Times because of bad publicity?”

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