Rebels in my business – should I hire or fire them?Natalie Lewis
Rebels, are they good for your business?
Here’s a controversial thought …. HR should actively look for rebels and nurture rebellious employees rather than try to control them.
I’ve been saying this for years; the old school ‘command and control‘ way of managing is sooooo last century and really isn’t fit for purpose in our modern society.
Are companies with rebellious cultures more successful?
If you look around, the companies that are succeeding most are those that have an open, rebellious culture where people are encouraged to be curious and to innovate. They embrace their rebels and set them to work in a positive way!
So I’m guessing that this blog will trigger some people and that’s OK. If you’re one of those people who firmly believe that micro-management is the only way because you can’t trust people, you crack on with that. However, I would ask you to consider two things; either you have the wrong people in your business, or you really need to do some self-development and look at the culture you’ve created (culture starts from the top),
Now then, if you’re with me on my statement or you’re a bit curious about what I’ve got to say about rebels in business, keep reading!
Why encourage rebellion in the workplace?
“It takes a rebellious individual to spot opportunity amidst disruption… someone who questions the way things have always been and looks for new, better, alternatives”
If you look around at how society has evolved over the last few years, catalysed by the pandemic, rule-breaking is happening on a scale never seen before. From disruptive brands to politics to standing up for our beliefs through protests – societal norms are being tested over and over.
Rule-breaking and rebels are often discussed in a negative context, I know I was fired from several jobs for simply testing the boundaries and questioning the status quo to make things better and use more innovative practices. I was most definitely the black sheep of HR back in the day.
But let’s consider when rule-breaking benefits the many and is done for the greater good. In these cases, we need to shift our mindset and see rule-breaking as a means to achieving bigger, better, greater outcomes.
Where does the traditional old school workplace culture stem from?
Firstly, we need to look at where these societal/business rules came from. Many workplace cultures are based on the foundations of the Industrial Revolution, where people were effectively chained to machines, working long hours and in pretty terrible conditions. Where managers were basically just slave drivers and employees didn’t have a say or were able to question the leaders. It was only through experience and working up the ladder that you could earn more and gain more respect. The workplace back then was very task orientated. It was very much based on a hierarchy of manager and subordinate and employees were far from empowered. How good you were at your job was often measured by how much time you spent in the workplace. The longer the hours you worked, the more kudos you were given.
Although people are naturally starting to get more comfortable being rebellious, with hundreds of years of enforced command and control style management (that was still championed in the 80s and 90s), rebellious traits are hard to find. Especially when our education system beats any form of individual expression from our young people too. It’s difficult to find these traits because of fear. British people are still particularly bad at expressing opinions in a workplace setting.
How is workplace culture changing?
Times were changing before the pandemic hit and now they’ve really changed. What society wants from their work has changed. People want work where they feel like they have a sense of purpose. They want managers who care about them as an individual and they want flexibility.
To truly run a successful company where your people are (almost) as invested in the business as you, you need to stop hiring ‘yes people’ and managing them in the old ‘command and control’ method and start looking for people with a little bit of rebelliousness. Then you need to lead them and use their rebelliousness as a superpower!
How do I foster a rebellious culture to the benefit of my company?
The first step is to create a culture that encourages and supports open communication. Allow people to speak up about how they think things can be done differently.
You then need a strong vision and purpose so that your people know what you want to achieve. This will align you all with the same sense of purpose and end goal.
Instil the basic values of responsibility, accountability, positivity and being solution focused into the company. Trust your team to do their jobs. (Anyone not fitting these values needs to be gently and professionally exited from your business).
You then need to utilise your rebels’ superpowers for the better – let them dig around into other roles and company ways of doing things with the objective of making processes and the way things are done more streamlined and effective.
Reward your rebels rather than shutting them down; provide them with the opportunity to present other ways of thinking to the group/department/company. By showing your people that you are open to feedback and take it well, you will find yourself open to far more opportunities.
The main thing is to focus your people and encourage them to strive for better. That way, your people are happy and you never need to fear your business becoming stagnant.
So, are rebels good for your business? I certainly think so!