Is your office really full of divas, or do you just need to recruit better?

In the past few months I’ve had similar conversations – albeit with different specifics – with three business founders. Each of these discussions touched on the instances whereby there is a culture of staff who seemingly resent having to do extra work or push back when the flexibility of their working lives are impacted by client requirements. 

The question I’ve circled back on for each of the three conversations was not to jump straight to the endless ‘entitled’ narratives surrounding millennials and Gen Z (I hesitate to draw generalities about an entire generation), and rather to question, really question, whether this is a pandering (pandered) culture of workshy divas, or if it’s a culture of genuine high achievement. 

Because these two cultures can look and feel very similar, and yet if you apply pressure and stress, the outcomes could not be more different.  

In my mind, the answer lies in recruitment, and in how you truly communicate the ambitions of your business and the values you hold as a team. 

Yes, it’s hard to recruit. But the answer isn’t to recruit people more quickly or compromise on your recruitment quality. The answer is to:

  • Put more resources into recruiting
  • Recruit further down the food chain
  • Have a better youth team policy
  • Understand employee motivations for being with your company
  • Have a better pipeline of talent
  • Have a much better proposition to prospective employees

and so on… 

The answer isn’t compromise on quality, the answer is to double down on the quality of recruitment and talent management. It’s a bitter pill, but the fact remains that failed employees are the result of leaders / the people who recruit them. Asking the right questions from the off and communicating the true values and expectations of your company will help minimise a ‘pandering culture’, or at least prove it to actually be a high performance one when the pressure is on. 

To add, this article is really about setting expectations. I’m never suggesting that a business owner should be entitled to ask staff to work at the expense of their own lives, but if you know you’re in an environment that isn’t (and can’t be) 9-5pm, then you need to be clear about that when you recruit and make sure the people you recruit are joining knowing that is the case.

In return, you also have to reward this behaviour. Sometimes that can be in terms of time in lieu or bonuses or simply great salary and package. But in my view, it should also be in terms of career development and progression. If you hire people into this kind of business who will need to clock on and clock off without the flexibility, then you (as the recruiter) are the issue – not the people who work for you.

Further, I’d say that smart employers are looking to tap into the best talent by making sure that their business is able to be more flexible about working hours, locations and so on. Diversity of thinking is a massive competitive advantage – and often that is achieved by offering inclusive and flexible working conditions.

The main point here is a distinction between a pandering culture – where you don’t give clear leadership and where your values, if defined at all, are inconsistently applied – and a culture of high achievement where people experience strong leadership, clarity of role and expectations and have the opportunity to thrive.

It is a fine line to tread and too easily the reasonable expectations of a team can be dismissed as “being divas”.

Would love to hear your thoughts. 



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If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues.