Beyond The Great Resignation: Why People Leave (Part 2)

Grodnitzky, Ph.D.
November 2, 2021
November 3, 2021

It’s been said for generations: “People don’t leave companies; people leave bosses.” Bull-pucky! Is “the Great Resignation” happening because – all of a sudden – the workplace is littered with bad bosses? Of course not! “People don’t leave companies; people leave bosses” is a leadership excuse for a poor culture. It is poor cultures that allow poor leaders to stay in place without requiring them to modify their behaviors.

Culture Trumps Personality

When I work with organizations, I always emphasize the critical nature of genuine human connections. They serve as the foundation for so many things, beginning with culture, but also trust, communication, performance and so much more.  

Occasionally, a leader will say to me: “Gustavo, you’re asking me to behave like an extrovert, but I’m an introvert. That’s not my personality.” To which I simply respond: “I know that it’s your preference, your comfort zone, your tendency to behave like an introvert. I’d like you to understand that to be successful in this organization, in this culture, we will ask that you display behaviors that feel extroverted to you.”

“Culture trumps personality” simply means that what is communicated to all leaders is that regardless of anyone’s specific personality type or style, personality is nothing more than a tendency to behave in a particular way. Personality is not destiny. We have the capacity to behave in ways that are outside of our personality or outside of our tendency.

A strong culture selects leaders that, regardless of their personalities, can motivate others through behaviors that display genuine connection and interest, reliability, openness and transparency, competence and concern. It builds channels of communication that operate both vertically (up and down a hierarchy) and horizontally (from peer to peer) with little friction. In a strong culture, leaders understand that profit follows the creation and maintenance of an outstanding organizational culture. So, culture becomes their primary focus.

Culture for Today and the Future

To understand what your culture needs to be and where workplace culture will go in the near and mid-term, we must look at employees who will be in the workforce the longest: Millennials and Gen Z.

Citrix did a study of Millennials and Gen Z (those in the workforce who are 39 or younger) and found that 90% want to work full time, but not full time at the office. This group of the workforce is predicted to deliver an extra $1.9 Trillion (not a typo, that is a “T”) in profits to corporations.  

Here’s the breakdown of the survey results:

  • 52% want a culture where they can work from home most or all of the time.  
  • 18% want a culture where they can work from the office more of the time.  
  • 20% want an even split between home and the office.  
  • 10% want to work full time from the office.

This is your future workforce. Some traditional leaders have said to me: “If they can go to a restaurant, then they can be in the office, and I expect them to be in the office.” I tell them: “You are going to realize some HUGE salary savings in position vacancies! Expect to lose10%-20% of your workforce.” The war for talent is real. The companies that are most affected by it are the ones that are still struggling to get their culture right.

Unemployment is now under 5%. Employees, particularly the ones we want the most, have options, and those that find themselves in an undesirable culture are not hesitant to exercise those options. as I have said here before, the future workforce is hybrid. If you are not building a culture that embraces what the workforce is seeking, you will be without a workforce.

I’d love to hear your questions and comments. If you would like to discuss this topic further, just drop me a note.

Until then, let’s keep cultivating our culture, together!

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