In 2017, saying some variation of “millennials are lazy, self-interested, and sensitive” is common shoptalk among business owners. The problem with statements like these, like a lot of convention wisdom, is that they don’t tell the whole story.
Recently, I was at an event with a friend of mine who is also an entrepreneur. He was complaining a bit about his employees and his overall company culture. He was frustrated and, based on the situation he was dealing with, I could see where he was coming from. I often get comments from other entrepreneurs that sound something like these:
“All the millennials who work for me are entitled and lazy.”
“No one takes initiative around here.”
“You should see my office at 5 p.m. You’d think the building was on fire given how fast everyone leaves.”
“The gossip and backstabbing is out of control.”
“This business would be perfect if I didn’t have any employees.”
I could go on and on and on, but the point is many entrepreneurs have a negative view of their employees.
I also understand why entrepreneurs feel this way. I’ve had businesses in the past where I made mistakes in hiring, training, and firing. I’ve felt and even said many of those above statements. But the fact of the matter is, each and every statement above is wrong. This article by business author Richie Nolan has the data to prove it.
Blaming Others Achieves Nothing
If you have lazy employees, the problem lies with you, not with the decade your employees were born in. If people in the office are gossiping, the problem is you, because you allow gossip. And if employees can’t do a job well, it’s your fault, because you didn’t train them correctly or set up a good system for training them properly. I know that may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. The buck stops with you. Don’t take my word for it — check out this Forbes article by Liz Ryan.
You, as your company’s CEO, are responsible for your company culture. Every company has a culture already. You either create it, manage it, and make it the culture that fits your vision, OR the employees will manage it. It’s possible that if you’ve hired the wrong people, you might be allowing them to create their own Frankenstein culture. Either way, you will have an office culture.
What Company Culture Really Means
When some CEOs hear “culture,” all they hear is free food, additional perks, and minimal accountability. While I agree with providing additional perks or free food as culture enhancers, that’s not what culture is.
Company culture is built around your values. Here at Newsletter Pro, we have nine core values, and these values define who we are and how we act, and they guide us in making decisions.
Every person you’ll ever meet has a set of values. When we are hiring, we look for people who share all nine of our values. We aren’t looking for people who have eight of the core values, in the hopes that we’ll help them adopt the ninth. You either have them or you don’t have them — it’s as simple as that.
As I read this blog post from the Great Place to Work Institute on building a high-trust culture, I wanted to high-five the computer screen. If you think culture means having a pingpong table, you’re sorely mistaken.
Building And Protecting Your Culture
It’s every single person’s job to protect the culture, either internally or externally.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that culture can be developed overnight, because it can’t be. Establishing a culture takes massive effort and focus. It takes grit, determination, love, and attention. But the joy and satisfaction it brings me and my team has been worth every sacrifice in time or treasure I’ve made or we’ve made together.
Maybe you’ve heard this saying: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I couldn’t agree more. Now the question for you is this: Are you going to create a culture, or are you going to allow the culture to be created around you?