Can culture building ever be truly democratic? – Colin Browne

There’s a point of view that the best way to develop the flavour of your organisation is to be as broadly inclusive as possible. Here’s why that’s wrong …

If global research is right, around 87% of your employees range between being bored at work, to actively trying to wreck everything you’re building.

The remaining 13% love you, or at least think there is a good reason for them personally, to perform well.

I always operate on the assumption that polls are fundamentally subjective, so the results are open to interpretation. The numbers here are so heavily skewed however that I think employers would be foolish to simply ignore them.

Given the choice, no government would ever go to the polls with a 13% approval rating and expect to get a positive outcome. And the same goes for you if you’re keen to uncover constructive suggestions for your organisation’s future.

Does that mean you ignore the masses all together? No. But it does mean you get subjective in your own right about which voices you’re most interested in hearing.

The leaders who have to run the company have an important point of view about what the company needs to be in order to fulfil its mission. Some employees who have been at the company a long time, or who have achieved something great and proven their desire to see the company win … they get a bigger voice too.

You may ask everyone else to offer their suggestions, but you have to be very selective about how you use them.

I believe organisations that openly listen to the voices within, have an unusual and exciting strength. But those voices are there to help guide something that already knows what it is trying to be.

Figuring out what that thing is, is not an act of democracy.

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