As I was riding in an Uber the other day, the young driver said, “I used to be in the car business but I’m not good at selling cars. I love people and I love cars, but I just was never really good at selling them.”
I asked myself: How many stories are out there like that? What are we, as an industry, doing that prevents passionate people from being successful? As I sat and thought about it, I realized, it’s all about culture.
As a noun, culture is defined “the ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society.” But, as a verb, it is defined “maintaining in conditions suitable for growth.” Now, you may have noticed that the verb is related to biology. In order to culture a cell or bacteria you have to have the right conditions or the right environment to promote healthy growth. The thing is, it is exactly the same for people in the workplace.
One of my mentors from Ethos taught me to examine behavior through the lens of the six intrinsic human needs. The extent to which those needs are met will both drive behavior and determine quality of life. The six needs do not vary by race, religion, culture, sex or background. Psychologists further subcategorize the needs — the first four are primal needs and the last two are spiritual needs.
1. Certainty – Stability in basic necessities, like food, shelter and other material resources. Certainty is very important when it comes to a person’s job because that is how people satisfy the basic necessities. Using intimidation to try and motivate is the kiss of death with today’s generation in the workforce. Some of us old school guys grew up that way, but it’s the quickest way to get high turnover.
2. Variety – People have a need to change their state to exercise their body and emotions. They seek variety through change of environment, physical activity, change of people they interact with, entertainment and other ways. Embrace this need by creating variety in activities or responsibilities.
3. Significance – Recognition from others or from themselves. Most young people aren’t very good at self-recognition. We need to really praise them publicly, and privately they need to feel important – because they are!
4. Connection – We all need to feel connected with someone or something; be it a person, an ideal, a sense of identity. Connection may take the form of engagement. Stop and talk to team members about something in common. People like people who are like them and interested in the same things.
5. Growth – You must provide opportunity for growth and development. If people understand that you are invested in them, they will invest in you!
6. Contribution – People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It creates loyalty and dedication. If people feel they are contributing, they will work longer and harder on their own without you demanding it.
Certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth and contribution. The right workplace culture will ensure all six needs are met. Put these principles to the top of mind in your organization and you will unlock the sales potential of today’s generation!
Jack Welch said it best: “When the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Society is changing, and that means our business culture must change along with it. It is our responsibility to help people succeed instead of asking them to endure our old ways.