Can You Imagine Going Back to the Old Way?

oldboatI was in Chicago this week doing a site visit at a company that we may end up including did include as a case study in our upcoming book. Like all the companies we are investigating, this one ended up on my radar screen because I heard about how strong their culture was. They even redesigned their office space to be consistent with what their culture values internally (and their space is pretty cool). In interviewing some of the employees, though, I noticed a running theme in their comments that was echoed in what I heard at some of the other companies we have been investigating: the employees at these organizations admitted that they had trouble imagining going back to the “old way” of working.

And by “old way” of working, they were referring to the way nearly every organization is managed in today’s environment. Traditional hierarchies, dress codes, cubicles, micromanagers, lack of freedom, tolerating mediocre performance, inability to change. There is a long list of things that the employees at these organizations are simply no longer willing to tolerate, now that they have experienced what it’s like on the other side. In several of the organizations I’m researching, some employees felt the need to explore other options and work at other organizations, only to find themselves coming back to the original company. That’s how strong the cultures are at these organizations. They are like magnets, attracting the best employees. When you find the people who are the right fit for that culture, it becomes almost irresistible to them.

So which company are you? The one these people can’t imagine going back to, or the ones they wouldn’t dream of leaving?

(And if you know of some companies where the people wouldn’t dream of leaving, please let me know and I’ll check them out for the book!)