Four steps to rid your company culture of selfishness

Selfish is as selfish does. If you have influence, perpetuate or tolerate a selfish culture in your organization, you will reap the self-serving behavior you have sown.
Selfish behavior didn’t work on the playground, and it doesn’t work in the adult working world — at least not for long. You may get some wins but only while you’re the only game in town or until your best people leave you for a more nurturing work environment. Caring cultures inspire productivity, results, retention and customer satisfaction. Here’s the proof:
Productivity: A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10 percent less productive. As the research team put it, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”
Results: Happy employees care more about team success. They not only work for individual success but for the good of the team and organization. In a non-caring and self-serving environment, employees either have short-sighted goals or put in minimal work to maintain anonymity. Gallup did a meta-analysis on the relationship between team engagement and performance. This study included more than 82,000 teams in more than 200 companies which included 2 million employees. Profitability of the top quartile of “engaged” employees enjoyed a 21 percent advantage over engagement’s bottom.
Retention: Although it seems obvious that employees would be likely to seek other employment in a selfish workplace, average employees and high potentials are less drawn to financial gains then they are to a happy and and enthusiastic about their work — often favoring a strong relationship with their direct manager. J. Brandon Rigoni and Bailey Nelson, in a January 2015 article for Gallup write, “Leaders create a culture of engagement in which employees are more likely to want to stay, even if a more lucrative offer is on the table. The percentage who would consider leaving for a raise of 20 percent or less drops to 37 percent, or by slightly more than 30 percent compared with actively disengaged workers.”T
Customer Satisfaction: Employees treat customers the way the employees are treated by leadership. Fortune’s top companies to work for rate high in customer satisfaction. For example, Wegmans grocery store chain has made Fortune’s list all 18 years the list has been tabulated. In April 2016, Wegmans was ranked America’s Favorite Supermarket in a study of more than 10,000 consumers.
Take these four steps to rid your culture of selfishness and promote a warm, caring and motivated work environment:

  1. Take an inventory and acknowledge your cultural shortcomings. The perception your people have of your culture is your culture. Execute bench-marking surveys to capture metrics with anonymity. More importantly, talk to people. Find out what they see, and what they want. Then go to work on it.
  2. Hire, develop and keep positive employees for the culture. You have to have “the right people on the bus.” This means you must commit to hiring and retaining those who are an appropriate motivational fit for the organization. Promote and develop leaders who possess the talent and demeanor who will influence and inspire. Likewise, you have an obligation and necessity to rid your company of selfish employees at every level.
  3. Assess and fix compensation annually. While employees are less likely to leave an organization where they are cared about and supported as individuals, this doesn’t mean that they are not susceptible to better financial offers, particularly if your culture is one annual bonus period shy of a mass exodus.
  4. Coach and communicate. Employees with potential to impact the growth and development of your organization are hungry for feedback, coaching and growth. Paying attention, set high goals and then coach to those goals. Regular coaching and interaction is bolus dose of leadership medicine in the eradication of selfishness.

You may wonder if you can afford the time, effort, or possibly financial resources to rid your culture of selfishness. Perhaps a better question is, can you afford not to?

T.J. Jones is president/owner of TJ Leadership, an author, expert trainer and leadership coach. He writes and speaks with practical wisdom in order to teach companies, teams and individuals how to reach new heights of fulfillment and performance. For information, visit