Home Concepts Employee Engagement & Motivation A Call for the High Performance Human Workplace

A Call for the High Performance Human Workplace

16 min read

“Wall Street” or “People”

Most corporations around the world have huge issues around the engagement of their workforce. Most leaders have seen the evidence of highly engaged workforces driving better performance in sales and profit. But how do you drive engagement? In looking at the corporate landscape, I found that companies drive two different types of culture. I’ll give these cultures polarized names to make them easier to see.

Wall Street Culture:

Profit maximization is the primary context of the company, coming with long lists of key performance indicators, scorecards, control mechanisms for audit and compliance, process focus, and often using war-like language in the competitive context. I see this Wall Street culture as the main context of most large corporations. A lot of talented people leave large corporations after their “learning years,” because they are weary of the suppression.

People Culture:

People focus is the main context with values such as trust, creativity, innovation and vision. This culture is more often seen in entrepreneurial environments, non-profits, charities and start-ups. A frequent problem with “People Focus” companies is that while it feels great to work there and engagement is high, long-term performance of those companies is often at risk because of a lack of financial stability, operational excellence, and risk management.

By contrast, Wall Street Culture companies are challenged by low engagement and inconsistent performance in their workforce. Despite trying harder and harder, they fail to grow faster than the market.

CEOs and General Managers often dogmatically promote “it’s all about profit, shareholders, control, competitiveness” or “it’s all about people.” Big corporations tend toward a “Wall Street” context, even if their mission statements say otherwise. Employees, however, are very good at recognizing the truth of what leaders really stand for.

From a recruiting point of view it’s relatively easy to find leaders that create a Wall Street context. The tough guys making it to the top have a hard time creating a sense of humanity in the workplace. People in corporations that drive a human team environment often lack the drive for operational excellence.

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