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Talent Development

Kick Your Organization's Old Habits: Tips For Creating A Better Work Culture

Your organization is doing what it does because it’s always worked for you; or has it? It’s time to look to the future instead of putting too much stock in the past. Your old habits might actually be holding you back. Kick ’em to the curb and develop a future work culture that will sustain your organization and grow future talent.

Your organization is doing what it does because it’s always worked for you; or has it? It’s time to look to the future instead of putting too much stock in the past. Your old habits might actually be holding you back. Kick ’em to the curb and develop a future work culture that will sustain your organization and grow future talent.

Create new, better, work culture

Work culture is a major contributor to how happy your employees are and how much new talent wants to join your organization. Is your culture outdated? It might be, and changing it can be tricky but essential.

Consider these new habits to create a positive work culture that will attract and help retain the best employees:

  • Remember, culture leaders come from all levels of the organization, not just the top.
  • Establish a meaningful bonus system for those who go above and beyond.
  • Be social, encourage human interactions.
  • Let the employees out of their cubes! Develop creative spaces for people to work.
  • Don’t be afraid to hire people who can do a better job than you.
  • Get rid of dead weight, negative, unproductive employees.

Get rid of dead weight. I’m sure you’ve worked with someone you felt wasn’t doing his or her share. I’ve had a coworker who consistently did a bad job with a bad attitude. Although his issues weren’t a secret from management, he was allowed to keep working until he retired. It left me wondering how little was expected of me and why management didn’t’t hold everyone to a higher standard. His poor performance made everyone’s job harder and degraded morale.

Getting rid of under-performing employees isn’t always easy, but if you have dead weight in your organization, it’s going to dull even your brightest talent. Make it clear what you expect from your employees and hold them to it. Everyone will appreciate it.

Make it nice to meet with you

Want your employees to feel like you value them? Don’t waste their time. Run efficient meetings. Well run meetings mean your employees are more focused on getting you better results:

  • Create focus by banning mobile devices (or at least silencing them).
  • Don’t let tangents run wild! Stay on topic.
  • Get creative with the invitation list.
  • Keep track of what is discussed and follow up.
  • Change up the location of meetings.
  • Use the right tools.
  • If you have nothing on the agenda for a regular meeting, cancel it.

Cancel unnecessary meetings. I recently wrote a post on the Results Only Workplace Environment (ROWE). One of the reason ROWEs are attractive workplaces is because they eliminate unnecessary meetings and make the necessary ones as focused as possible. Good time management is a major tool in creating enticing and productive work environments.

Reconsider your recruiting methods

Although the job market seems bleak, lots of organizations are looking for talented people, and people are looking for organizations. Why aren’t you syncing up? Maybe you need to rethink your hiring methods:

  • Be sure your “career” page on your website is up to date.
  • Make sure your job titles and descriptions are timely and relevant.
  • Ask current employees for referrals for open positions.
  • Build a community of talent.
  • Use social media in your recruiting process.

Use social media. LinkedIn is a great resource for you to find new talent. This social media platform has updated its recruiter tools recently to make it even easier for you to find the talent out there and invite them to your company.

I’ve participated in a number of Twitter chats like #JobHuntChat where job seekers are encouraged to complete a LinkedIn profile. People of all generations are doing it; even the ones not actively seeking new employment. It’s an ideal way for you to find possible candidates and reach out to them without even posting a job description.

We all know that changing bad habits isn’t easy. It isn’t even easy to identify what your bad habits are. Be open when someone points them out to you, and find ways to identify them yourself. Consider what is routine in your organization. Look at your processes and ask why they are what they are and if they need updating. While it might not be easy, you can break bad habits, and doing so, means good things for your organization now and in the future.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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