In today’s always-busy, meeting-driven work culture, organizations are plagued by missed opportunities. On a daily basis, executives receive dozens of emails and cold calls – the majority of which are delegated to middle managers where they succumb to the daily grind, or even worse, are intercepted by gate-guarding personal assistants who fail to recognize their value or ignore them entirely. As a result, groundbreaking ideas and potential opportunities slip through the cracks, precluding organizations’ success, growth, and profit.
Compounding this problem are executives and entry-level employees who waste hours every day sitting in meetings or performing administrative tasks that deliver little value. Studies have shown middle management spends up to 35% of their time in meetings. Senior managers spend as much as 50% of their time in meetings – at least 67% of which they deem as “failures.” Worthless meetings are estimated to cost US companies over $25 million per day and over $37 billion annually. Mundane administrative tasks, which take up a third of employees’ workdays, cost companies millions more.
While the negative financial implications of modern business culture are well documented, the social impact is less widely known. A series of recent initiatives by ENODO Global demonstrate how today’s work culture often times prevents social impact from taking root.
ENODO personnel recently identified funding streams through the U.S. Department of Justice to implement two key CSR initiatives: Crowdsourced Policing Program, designed to reduce crime and improve community-police relations, and School Violence Mitigation Program, designed to predict and prevent school violence. Funding came in the form of federal grants worth up to one million dollars that would enable organizations to implement much needed services, at no cost to them.
Our personnel conducted outreach to 47 police departments and over 375 school districts across the US to identify potential partners. They offered organizations ‘free’ government money, the time and resources necessary to aid them in applying for the grants, and proven solutions to some of the most complex societal issues currently plaguing our society. After months of emails and phone calls, they received responses from sixteen organizations, initiated dialogues with just twelve, and ultimately partnered on projects with only two.
Other personnel faced similar roadblocks when socializing the Veteran Suicide Prevention Program with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). After introducing a pilot project to VA personnel, who expressed interest, communications suddenly came to an unexpected halt. Eventually, a senior manager responded to inform us that the budget for FY19 had already been allocated. It seemed unlikely that this was the case since it was only Q2, and last year, the VA failed to spend nearly $5.0 million of its $6.2 million budget obligated for veteran suicide prevention.
Recent outreach to private sector companies yielded similar results. Several hours after reaching out to Slack, an US software company, to introduce our Social Risk Seminar, we received the following response: “Thank you for thinking of Slack! We get an overwhelming number of requests like this, but we’re unable to support as many as we’d like. Though we’re going to decline for now, we hope to be able to provide more support in the future.”
These examples encapsulate today’s business culture and exemplify the way communications tools are now used to prevent relationships from developing, rather than to foster meaningful connections and advance opportunities. Dismissive responses like these make introducing new ideas and establishing business relationships difficult. Unfortunately, slamming doors in the faces of those looking to make a positive difference is often the more convenient choice, and seems to have become the norm.
In today’s interconnected world, where texts, tweets, and emails are monitored 24/7 on cell phones and tablets, there is no excuse for non-responsiveness or curt, cookie-cutter emails. Not only do these practices hurt business relationships and professional reputations, they impede organizational success and social change. Why, then, have most businesses adopted apathetic email practices, responsible for so many missed opportunities and connections? Who – or what – is to blame?
Personal assistants and other support-level staffers, who serve as the gatekeepers of information and block access to executives, are part of the problem but they are not the root cause. This problem starts at the top, with executives who cite lack of time and resources as the reasons they cannot pursue these types of opportunities. But more broadly, this is a problem that lies in modern business culture – which misaligns employees’ priorities and forces workers to waste time going through the motions when they could be making a real difference.
Fortunately, a solution exists. Companies that can identify and shape employee identity are able to reboot corporate culture from the bottom up, enabling organizations to become more responsive and less dismissive of potential opportunities. Using identity analysis to inform organizational management provides a systematic approach to transform organizational culture. By making “responsiveness” and “value added” measures to evaluate performance within an organization, individuals will be motivated to answer emails, calls, and other forms of communication.
Incentivizing employees to respond to external communications and look for potential opportunities to enhance organizational success and effect social impact goes a long way in redirecting inefficient work culture. More importantly, such an approach enables private and public sector organizations to address some of most pressing issues of our time, not only for the good of organizations, but for the good of society.