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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.

Director, Yeshua Institute

After decades of reading what various experts – business leaders, HR specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists and organizational behaviorists – have had to say about what people need and/or want from their work, the best description I have ever encountered fell into my hands this summer quite by accident.

Or was it Providential?

I’ll let you make the call. Let me settle for providing the details.

One quiet summer morning, casually perusing the porch that runs along the length of our cabin overlooking a small, quiet lake, I noticed a book I had not seen before and knew I hadn’t ordered. Its title: The Critical Few: Energize Your Company’s Culture by Choosing What Really Matters.

It could have belonged to any of my children who had recently visited with their own families, so I sent out an email asking whose it was and if they wanted it sent to them. But while I waited for an answer, I decided to jump in and learn what I could from it before it had to restore it to its rightful owner.

On page 49 I found the Fountain of Wisdom regarding what it is that people want from their workplace culture. I’ve never found it expressed better, so let me quote the paragraph.

Every great company culture is based, in part, on intrinsic attraction and emotional commitment to important aspects of the company. People want to feel rewarded and recognized. They want to feel the pleasure of being part of a team They want to learn. They want to work with others who are capable and committed. They want to be part of a culture that fosters all these qualities.

The paragraph continues with a brief list of the rewards people experience when they find such a culture:

They choose to be part of the enterprise, work is no longer just transactional. They are reminded of the passion and curiosity that led them to their chosen field. They feel they can excel at their job, and they are ready to experience feelings of pride, belonging, adventure, achievement, and other personal benefits of accomplishment.

Of course, if you’re paying attention and you can acknowledge the reality of win-win circumstances, you realize that “personal benefits” are not the only thing the authors are talking about.

A culture in which “work is no longer just transactional” and where the workforce is passionate and curious is a culture which provides extensive organizational benefits to all of an organization’s stakeholders.

It’s certainly something to consider when you are asking yourself what kind of culture you want to work in – or want to create for those with whom you work.

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