Workplace blogs
Workplace blogs

How Is Your Workplace Doing?

You’ve likely read some of the articles coming out that are highly critical of Amazon’s workplace culture. My friend Merge Gupta-Sunderji wrote a great article in the Globe and Mail newspaper that summarizes the issue: Amazon’s leaders are so relentlessly focused on results (the “what”) that they forgot all about “the how.” As I’ve said at least a gazallion times, workplace culture is all about the how: How you do the things you do. And if you ignore the how, it’s just a matter of time before things do deeply off the rails.

The story coming out of Amazon reminded me of the book, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work, by Susan Fowler. In her book Fowler challenges people to rethink basic core beliefs about business. The underlying belief systems that people bring into the workplace obviously have a huge impact on your culture, so take time at your next offsite retreat or commit to a meeting with your team to openly discuss and perhaps rethink these beliefs:

  1. The purpose of business is to _________?   (As Fowler points out, yes a business must make money but is that really your only purpose? Humans need air and food to survive, but is our only purpose to breathe and eat?)
  2. It’s not personal it’s just _____________________? (Is it ever just business?)
  3. All that matters is  _________________________? (Results? Please see Amazon reference above!)
  4. If you cannot measure it _____________________? (It’s probably really, really important!)

Michael Kerr is an international business speaker and the author of 6 books including “The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.”


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