Ants are fascinating creatures. What I’m about to propose may make you itch and squirm a little in your chair, but I hope it’s because you are itching and squirming your way to make a change in your company culture! I’m sorry in advance if this blog post makes you feel uncomfortable, but here is what ants teach us about amazing company culture.

According to a recent report, 1 in 3 (28%) of executives report that they don’t understand their organization’s culture (Source: Deloitte). That’s a lot of confused leadership types trying to move people in alignment. No wonder people are disengaged, when those setting the tone are confused, it’s almost impossible to get people to follow along.

Your org chart is killing your company culture

Have you ever seen an ant wearing a white hat?

Nope!

Ants don’t have “boss-holes” hanging on a branch yelling over their head screaming to move a grain of sand from one place to another. Ants can do amazingly efficient work and don’t have supervisors slowing them down. They are free to use their intuition to make decisions on the fly, and that gives them the advantage over us. Ants work in complete alignment with the sole purpose of protecting the queen.

If too many ants make poor decisions, yes, the queen will suffer. But I’ll still take thousands of ants not making a wrong decision over all the decision power being left up to one c-level ant. Dispersing the power of responsibility makes for a more resilient workplace.

One significant component of great company culture is that everyone is free to think and act based on the greater good of the company. There is no need to wait for permission from above because there is no actual org chart to report to. Yes, there will always be high-level management roles to be filled. However, everyone from the bottom to the top is still empowered to make decisions on their own -provided it is in the best interest of the company as a whole.

Allow the freedom to decide and fail

I can see you dismissing that thought, and I get it, it goes against traditional management thinking. How can we count on someone with no experience to make the right decisions? You can’t unless you let them try -and maybe fail a few times.

Provided their heart is in the right place, failure is the best way for anyone to learn. Employee disengagement comes from not giving enthusiastic people the floor to actually engage.

I see you are still dismissing the concept of an org chartless company. I’m sure you’re wondering how a company can follow a direction if everyone is making different decisions.

PEOPLE! THE ANTS ARE ALIGNED!

There are thousands of ants in one anthill, and they are all aligned to protect the same queen. Alignment is crucial to functioning company culture. However, alignment within a team takes time and patience, but it will happen. Remember, everyone wants to do good and do great things.

So, let’s learn from the ants. They have survived for millions of years and will be here long after we ravaged our planet of its resources. Ants adapt, work harder and more aligned than any company in history. They have no CEO, CFO, COO, VP, advisors, supervisors or team leads. Ants have unwavering alignment in their purpose, and so should you and everyone in your company.

I really hope that I didn’t make you squirm too much!


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About the Author

Jeff Nagle is our wordsmith and blogger. When he’s not cooped up in his office with the door closed writing, he’s working out at the gym, reading, or training for a marathon. Sometimes he attempts to do all three at the same time!

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