The Great Resignation is in full swing, and many believe that it’s likely to accelerate. In a recent study by McKinsey, 40% of survey respondents said they were at least “somewhat likely” to leave their jobs in the next 3-6 months, and most employers expect things to get worse. That kind of talent instability has the potential to cause catastrophic organizational disruption.
COVID-19 has put much of what we considered “normal, daily life” into perspective, but the conditions that led to this moment started long before March 2020. Burnout, unclear decision-making, hypocritical policies, and unnecessary bureaucracy have been wearing on employee patience for decades. The pandemic didn’t start this trend — it just put a lot of people over the edge.
Organizations need to do more to explicitly and inclusively define new norms for how teams operate, giving members the confidence that things will be different this time.
But, documentation alone isn’t enough. Writing down an organization’s unwritten rules is a proven culture-building tool, but it won’t meet rising employee expectations on its own. It ignores a very important element of scaling organizational culture: how you write things down matters just as much as what you write down.
Here’s how Murmur takes some of the benefits of documentation culture to the next level:
- Clarity through Autonomy: A big plus of documentation culture is that it can bring immense clarity to unwritten rules that may have been fuzzy before. But, it can also create rigid lists of requirements that leave little room for creativity and adaptation. At Murmur, we believe that lengthy, detailed documents that dictate every move a team member makes aren’t super helpful. Instead, build motivation and trust by optimizing for autonomy, providing just enough detail to help smart, well-intentioned people make good decisions.
- Accountability through Inclusion: It’s always important to be explicit about who’s doing what and what good looks like, but let’s be real: no one likes to be told what to do. And they like it even less when their input and opinions haven’t been considered. At Murmur, we believe the best way to infuse accountability into organizations is to involve people directly in the decision-making process and collaboratively define accountability standards to create social pressure (in a good way!) that encourages members to live up to expectations.
Performance through Learning: There’s no doubt about it: performance matters. But, there are substantial perils and pitfalls to pure performance cultures, including low psychological safety when teams don’t feel they can be transparent about mistakes or failures. At Murmur, we believe every decision is an experiment and those learnings are what truly matters. Adopting this principle gives team members the freedom to try new approaches, without the fear of punishment for “poor performance” when a decision doesn’t pan out.