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From the CEO: Conversations That Change Workplace Culture

Skilled People Managers are essential to creating better workplace cultures.

A man in a blue suit smiling in front of a brick wall.

We’ve all heard the saying “People don’t quit their jobs; they quit their managers.”

But in my experience, the problem is always bigger than one toxic individual. Unsatisfying work is a product of an unsatisfying workplace.

People leave their workplaces when they feel unappreciated, overburdened, excluded, unsafe or besieged by personal conflict. After a bad day at the office, 45 percent of employees who had been with their companies less than a year admitted to applying to new jobs, according to a 2018 study by the Work Institute.

Skilled People Managers are essential to creating better workplace cultures. And when workplaces have great managers, HR has more space to pursue its strategic and leadership roles.

An important step in developing great managers is empowering them to initiate candid, critical conversations with and among employees. We can’t know if our workplace culture is working for everyone unless we foster open discussions with those who experience it every day.

That is why I’m encouraging People Managers and HR professionals to develop an ethos of strategic, issue-driven conversations that can improve company cultures.

This should not be top-down communication but instead should take the shape of one-on-one social encounters, in which each person is on equal footing. When managers and their reports—and peers with peers—sit down to talk about specific workplace issues, real change can happen. Addressing issues like harassment, skills gaps, inclusion and equity in the workplace requires a collective effort.

Those of you attending the SHRM 2019 Annual Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas will hear more about SHRM’s challenge to workplace decision-makers to engage in crucial conversations about culture. We want to help you create workplaces where real conversations are driving strategic change.

When we can fix what’s wrong at work, we improve people’s lives beyond the workplace.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Photograph by Delane Rouse for HR Magazine. 


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