Health Trumps Smarts! How to Cultivate Workplace Culture
Cultivating workplace culture is more than having a team building event off-site twice per year. Whether we realize it or not, all our actions are having a positive or negative effect on workplace culture. We are on display and people watch. If you want to have a positive effect on workplace culture begin with you but there are actions you can take.
8 Things That Positively Influence Workplace Culture
So, I have a free workbook on my website that was written years ago. The book could stand to be updated but the principles discussed in the book are as true today as they were then. Here are the principles:
- Collaboration over command and control
- Align your team around a common vision
- Ensure every team member understands their role
- Build trust through transparent communication
- Be intentionally focused on the task at hand
- Have an appropriate sense of urgency
- Understand and utilize the capacity of every team member
- Ensure accountability at all levels, especially yourself
Collaboration Over Command And Control
Management theory has come a long way in the last 50 years. Cultivating workplace culture wasn’t even on the radar 50 years ago. I’m old enough to have experienced the last 25 years of this change. Fifty years ago, command and control was typical in the workplace. So was drinking a quart of liquor during the day. We now know both these things don’t contribute to high levels of organizational effectiveness. Japan and Deming introduced Theory Z management. Next came participative management. Now we have collaborative leadership.
We Start With Collaboration
The concept is easy to understand but hard to implement especially if you are really smart and think you have all the answers. If you want to engage your team, their thoughts and ideas should be as or more important than your own. Below are a few suggestions:
1. Be Humble
Be humble enough to understand your solution may not be the response to the problem. This doesn’t mean you don’t contribute. And, it doesn’t mean you don’t offer your solution. But, don’t assume you have all the answers!
2. Ask Good Questions
Ask questions. Listening to your team is critical in today’s workplace. If you hire good people they want influence. Start by simply by asking, “what do think is the biggest problem to be solved in our company?” Then, don’t criticize their response. Explore and ask more questions to understand their point of view
3. Encourage Participation
Encourage participation from as many people as possible but limit the size of your meetings (8-10 team members is a good number for brain storming to solve a problem)
4. Identify The Real Problem
Take action on what your team sees as the problem to be solved. And, ensure it is not a distraction from the overarching vision/mission of the company
5. Act Like A Flat Organization
Think of yourself as an equal with your teammates and you are simply in a different role. This gets to the heart of behaving like a flat organization over a hierarchical one. And stop referring to your team as “My Team.” Change your language to “Our Team.” People notice this language whether you realize it or not, especially your teammates
6. Know Your Team Mates
Internalize the idea that your success depends on the morale of your direct reports, peers and your supervisors. Understand their needs and work to fulfill them
7. Gather Your Team Close
Begin with your team. You are their supervisor. They want to work on a high performing team whether they consciously realize it or not. Gather them close and invite them to greater levels of collaboration. Yes, do an off-site meeting but don’t let it end there
8. Develop A Common Language
Develop an internal language within your team. Why? Common language leads to alignment. This language should be directly related to your team’s strategic vision of your desired outcome
Whose Job Is It?
Cultivating workplace culture is the leader’s job. Turnover is a costly. Managing morale is cheaper. As a leader, your actions will affect how potential employees see your company! Vendors, customers and employees talk. This can either be a positive or negative experience. But the good news is you can do something about it!
I’ll discuss, “Align your team around a common vision” in the next blog. In the meantime start asking your team questions.