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By David Harder on May, 4, 2017

The Shame Game with Corporate Culture

If global workforce engagement is only 13%, odds are that a number of workers in your organization are in a trance. Odds are also high that a consultant is standing in front of you telling you it is the fault of your culture.

The fundamental problem around all of this is that workplace engagement is a shared and equal responsibility with everyone who works. But, we keep pointing the finger at culture because it is an easy blame, especially when everyone feels so helpless about solving the engagement challenge. If 87% of the world is disengaged, we have a big problem on our hands. And, there is a high probability that “the trance” impacts many of our CEOs, consultants, executive leaders and business owners as well. If we get leaders to feel bad about their leadership, the probability of a big fat invoice runs up pretty quickly.

If there are any doubts about this point, take a look at comments through my blogs for the last few months. Many are from consultants who blame management, leadership, and CEOs for employee engagement challenges, unionization, debacles with customer service. They are all selling the same things: More surveys, leadership development, and feedback systems. Many don’t even read the content in the blogs.

Here is my central truth about engagement. The reason it is so low is that too many people believe they cannot change nor can they keep up with change. Too many have become disillusioned with the ways their organization and the world around them has changed and now they are simply going through the motions. Teaching our talent how to change increases the acceptance they must change. All the surveys in the world will not produce personal transformation. And, not matter how much we improve the capabilities of our leaders, in the absence of personal transformation, all we will get is the perception of more manipulation. The fact is, everyone is responsible and the engagement solution must be democratic.

In our work with individuals and organizations, it has become clear that change begins with self-inquiry, the ability to take rigorous inventory in what it is we need to learn, the behaviors that have become outmoded and must be discarded, and the life skills we learn if we are ever to be happy and fully effective with our work.

Yes, organizations have full responsibility in the equation. But, this lopsided approach to constantly work on management misses the point. We need learning organizations and we need accountability environments. The days of a CEO telling human resources to “fix the engagement problem” and moving on with his or her disengagement will produce terrible results. We will never produce an engaged culture with a disconnected CEO or owner. Politicians promising old jobs rather than telling our vast under-employed to get off their butts and learn how to be new will only perpetuate the paralysis and anger that infects our country. And, when we teach our talent how to reinvent themselves, how to change and thrive in this new world, we have every right to expect engagement. Is this a job for constant consulting? Quite frankly, it’s too big. We need our early adopters of self-inquiry and change to become mentors. Ultimately, a fully engaged culture can only work from the inside-out.

All that blaming leadership seems to be accomplishing is to stay in this perpetual motion machine of paying outsiders to give us the sense we are moving forward. But, it is no one’s fault because everyone is responsible.

This is what I know:

Once we know how to change and reinvent ourselves, there are no victims and there is no one to blame.

When will we invest in that?

Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.

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