A positive work culture is built on what we do every day.
A happy and healthy work environment contributes directly to the success of our business. Building and embedding a culture takes time and effort, it is not built in a day. Becoming the co-authors of our culture is essential as work often impacts and influences all or relationships. As work is where we tend to spend most of our waking life it makes sense to ensure it has a positive impact on us rather than a negative one.
Here are 4 ways to develop and maintain a more positive work culture:
1. Take ownership of your contributions
Culture is not based on a document or a strategy, but is created by the actions we take every day. When we take ownership of what we contribute we can become co-authors of our culture and build a more positive environment to work in. In a dispute, as a example, it is easy to believe we are 100% right and the other is 100% wrong, but in life this is hardly ever the case – it is seldom that anyone is 100% wrong (or right). This attitude can negatively impact the way we operate professionally. When we are only partially at fault we often think the other person should shoulder most of the responsibility. Not wanting to admit we are imperfect is partially to blame. The research shows that when we own and admit our contribution it can help the other(s) be less defensive and begin to work towards a mutual solution. Rather than pointing fingers and assigning blame acknowledge your part and then communicate your message in a clear, nonjudgmental way. What we do each day matters.
2. Trust and respect matter in a positive work culture
Trust and respect are vital to all personal and professional relationships. The best way to build these is through listening, asking questions to understand and clear open communication. A little vulnerability can be a powerful relationship building tool. We are more likely to respect someone who shows their human side than someone who pretends to be perfect, or invulnerable. We can often see through the bravado anyway and it can make us feel like they are being dishonest or don’t respect us when they pretend to be perfect. It is also harder to relate to them as we are often very aware of our own vulnerabilities. Trust and respect are built on honesty and common reliability. A key to establishing positive workplace relationships with our coworkers is to first get to know them as individuals, none of us want to be see as a role or a number. We want our humanity acknowledged. Learning about who they are as people can help build mutual understanding and a basis for a professional understanding. It is important that we respect our colleagues’ input and ideas and that they respect ours. When we lose respect for our managers or colleagues, we are less likely to go to them for help (even when it’s an area in which they are an expert). When we feel respected and supported, and that our efforts won’t be undermined by others’ fragile egos, our interactions tend to be more positive and our teams are more productive.
3. Have an attitude of gratitude
Something we have in common with our CEO, direct manager, colleagues, and the office cleaner is we all want to feel appreciated. Get into the habit of offering a genuine compliment to show your gratitude for their support and contribution when they do something well. It is not only up to the CEO and management. Every one of us can build an attitude of gratitude in the workplace by offering a heartfelt “Thank you” to people in our team (managers, colleagues and subordinates). This leads to stronger relationships, encourages everyone to continue working productively and embeds the “right” productive behaviours. What we acknowledge (or pay attention to) gets repeated. The reward centres of our brains light up when we receive praise just like when we receive tangible or monetary rewards. The research shows that financial rewards often have a limited impact, and can diminish in effectiveness over time. Appreciation is, however, an often ignored or forgotten incentive (Which has a significant impact on performance and productivity). Few of us feel we are acknowledged enough. Try sharing a heartfelt “Thank you” today for a job well-done; it’s contagious.
4. Have a zero tolerance for bullying
Though employees leave bad managers, they are also leaving your organisation if you don’t manage your bad managers and employees. Bullying by managers or team members is expensive, negatively impacts your bottom line and damages your culture. Bullying reduces retention of talented staff and contributes to a toxic workplace. When you add up all the hiring and training costs the organisation has to pay to replace talented people it is easy to see how bullying costs real money. According to the latest research the real cost of replacing a talented employee now sits at over 1 1/2 years salary. Bullying also decreases innovation (as the one being bullied is often afraid to be vocal in the organisation) and can make it much harder to hire qualified professionals (as the word spreads quickly about toxic work cultures). Say no to bullying.
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