Posted by: Rael Kalley | April 22, 2017

402. All aboard: Prisoners, Vacationers and (especially) Explorers.

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We have spent much time talking about the affect culture has on corporate identity and on the degree to which people and organizations go about their work.

I have long believed that people go to work either willingly or grudgingly.

Those who go willingly, do so because they genuinely want to be there, feel engaged and committed to the organization, find their work to be fulfilling and often find themselves feeling excited and challenged by what they are doing.

Those who come to work grudgingly tend to follow what I call The Maximum/Minimum Rule.

This rule states that the maximum productivity delivered by grudging employees is the minimum required to avoid drawing negative attention to themselves.

What is interesting to observe that both willing and grudging employees are the product of how they interpret, and feel impacted by, the culture in their workplace.

There are no disgruntled employees on day one of the new job. When a new employee reports to work on their first day they do so with an abundance of willingness.

And the culture in which they find themselves will determine whether they remain willing employees or whether, over time, they become grudging ones.

It has long been said that there are three types of people to report for work each day.

The first group are Explorers. Explorers are generally open minded folks who may not always agree with you but are more than willing to listen to what you have to say. They are adventurous and energetic and exude a high level of commitment and enthusiasm to the task at hand.

Each day is an adventure and they come to work with the excited expectation of completing as much as they can and enjoying every moment.

The second group are Vacationers. To them work is a pleasant escape from the tedium of life’s responsibilities. It is a place where they displace as little energy as possible, perhaps boost their social careers and are devoted followers of The Maximum/Minimum Rule.

The third group are Prisoners These folks conduct themselves as if they had appeared before a judge and had been sentenced to work in their present jobs.

They spend as much time as possible complaining and criticizing while doing their very best to recruit others to their cause. They can point out, with great precision, everything that is wrong with the organization and rarely are able to accept anything as being good.

They feel trapped, are disengaged and go about their business with all the enthusiasm of a wet blanket.

And just like grudging employees, there are no vacationers and prisoners on the first day of a new job.

Almost without exception, people arriving at work for the first time are filled with a mix of excitement and nervousness. They are generally eager to make a good impression and determined to be successful.

They are keen to learn, open to new ideas and excited about the new opportunity.

In other words, almost everyone arrives on day one as an Explorer.

And they become enmeshed in the prevailing culture. Culture – how we do things around here, what’s normal and acceptable around here – is the very foundation upon which all else is based.

Explorers remain Explorers when their interpretation of the culture supports and encourages them to do so. Vacationers become Vacationers and Prisoners become Prisoners over time – sometimes weeks, sometimes months, sometimes years – when the culture does not support their expectations of what an Explorer sustaining workplace should be.

It has long been said that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Experience however has taught me that people, in fact, leave cultures, and cultures are the product of acceptable behaviours modelled and allowed by those in authority.

Preferred workplaces are those with preferred cultures. And culture comes about either by default or by design.

I have guided many companies in how to design, install and sustain cultures that develop and retain Explorers.

A company filled with Explorers is a company well on its way to greatness, and you can take that to the bank.

Till we read again.

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