Clues your culture is rewarding the wrong behaviour

Clues your culture is rewarding the wrong behaviour

Cadillac just released a new ad. I hate to think that it might sell more Cadillacs. It glorifies the extremely driven, lack of balance, materialistic lifestyle of North America. It basically says “work through your vacation so you can buy a Cadillac.” You can see the ad at the bottom of this post.

The Cadillac ad made me think of corporate culture and the clues that I’ve seen in many organizations that leaders are rewarding the wrong behaviours. Here are some of them.

People don’t take vacation.

Worse, they wear their inability to take vacation as a badge of honour. “I’m too busy to take a week off”, they say with pride. This is an indicator that you’re rewarding busy-ness and urgency, not important work.

People offer to stay at work late so that they can leave early another day.

This is an indicator that seat time is your measure of productivity. If you’re measuring actual results, it doesn’t matter when someone is at work – it matters what they accomplish. Just because people are “at work” doesn’t mean they are being productive. Just because someone is not “at work” doesn’t mean they aren’t being productive.

People are envious of colleagues’ working conditions.

They ask “Is Martha taking another break? Sometimes I wish I smoked so I could take breaks!” “Is Sam working from home again? It must be nice to have kids so you have an excuse to not come to work.” Jody Thompson would call this “Sludge”. If everyone has clear objectives they should be free to work wherever and however they wish – and envy over others’ working conditions wouldn’t exist.

Nobody takes lunch breaks.

Similar to not taking vacation, this is an indicator that people are rewarded for being busy, but not for being productive. As Tony Schwartz, author of “The Power of Full Engagement” would tell you, working in pulses is the best way to be productive and energized throughout the day. 90 minutes of work, then a break, with a longer break every few hours, helps you keep your level of productivity at a higher rate longer throughout the day. Taking a mental break for lunch is important. Plus, the informal discussions around the table provides an added bonus of the opportunity for collaboration and innovation!

Graphic Recording of Tony Schwartz' talk at Work Revolution Summit

Graphic Recording of Tony Schwartz’ talk at Work Revolution Summit

People don’t have time for training.

Many companies say that people development is important. They invest money in training. They develop great courses or learning opportunities. Then nobody has time to attend. Even the time management workshop is poorly attended because people are too busy. Explaining that the training will help them to have more time in the future doesn’t help. What helps is rewarding leaders for developing themselves and their team, rather than rewarding the busy work, the urgency, that causes this behaviour.

How is your culture rewarding the wrong behaviour? Please, let’s stop offering Cadillacs for busy work. Let’s look at results. Let’s set clear goals and measure achievement. Let’s give freedom to people to achieve how they wish to. Let’s add some life back into work-life. Balance may be a myth, but there are ways to help your people achieve better than a Cadillac for their performance.

Here’s the Cadillac ad. I hope it tempts to you do the opposite – to take vacation, enjoy life with your family and friends, and to reward working smarter, not harder.

1 Comment

  1. August 24, 2015 at 3:05 am

    […] Pam Ross, Culture Developer and Speaker, names a few ways you can see this sort of culture in yourself or in your office. […]

    Reply »

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