According to recode, Jeff Jones, the president of Uber, is leaving. He cites the Uber culture as his reason:
I joined Uber because of its Mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long-term.
It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.
This brief statement illustrates the concept of culture fit. Jones was attracted to joining Uber because of its mission–its purpose. But a glorious mission–even one that is changing the fabric of our society– becomes flawed when there are severe deficiencies in how that mission is delivered. Purpose is an essential ingredient for culture fit because when the company’s purpose genuinely matters to the employee, then work feels meaningful. Purpose is the “why” of work. But although the purpose of work, in the case of Uber, is quite compelling, it is the “how” that is where the company shows its flaws.
The other element of culture fit is harmony. Work not only should feel purposeful, but it should also provide a sense of harmony for its employees. The workplace values must be a fit with its employees if one wants to thrive in the workplace. When the values of the company and the approach of leadership are in sync with an employee’s values, the employee is able to be his or her authentic best self at work which increases vitality and well-being, promotes engagement, and lowers stress. In contrast, working at a company with inconsistent values forces an employee to pretend to fit in, creating facades of conformity that can be damaging to one’s emotional well-being. If the employee has the option, it’s better to leave.
Much has been written about the Uber culture. This key departure is just one more statement to the public that a company with a wonderful mission can be damaged by the principles its leaders practice. The public will hear about it in the news, and the company’s employees will experience it.
So what is the remedy? The answer is at the top. The core values of a company are derived from the company’s founder/leader. Those prime values are not easy to change while that founder/leader remains. Creating a buffer with a COO who has different, preferred values is an attempt to improve the reputation of the company. But reputation is a reflection of the company’s identity and that is quite difficult to change.