by Matt Brown
So much of our lives are spent at work. This means that the quality of our workplace relationships will deeply affect our well being.
Leaders (aka – bosses) play a key role in establishing a healthy workplace culture – one built on mutual trust and working together towards an exciting goal. But each of us affect our workplace culture to some degree – each of us can either add to or take away from the health of the organizational culture, which deeply affects all of our lives.
From my experiences in the workplace, and in the leadership of our organization, I crave healthy organizations. The health of the organization is the most powerful contributing factor to becoming an effective organization.
Here are 6 steps I believe will contribute to a healthier, more effective organization:
1. No drama rule.
Adding employees to the company without training them in the goals and culture of the organization is a recipe for disaster. It would be better to have fewer employees who “get it” than to muddle the momentum of the organization with new employees who don’t get it, who go in their own directions, and who make everyone’s jobs more difficult.
And I think it is the job of the leader to take care that this is clear and have crucial conversations if employees are causing problems. Don’t just sit by and hope it goes away. Step in and lead when employees are jumping into other people’s departments, or creating unnecessary drama, otherwise you will lose your most valuable players.
2. Deal with issues.
For leaders with a gift of empathy, this can be more difficult, but then again, leaders are leaders because they make the difficult but wise decisions on a daily basis.
When issues arise between employees, the leader should make the effort to bring resolution. Don’t let employees who cause the most drama win simply because you don’t want to step in. Don’t let your workplace culture just happen, create it and guard it, by dealing with issues appropriately and re-directing people back, over and over again to the core values of the organization.
3. Value long-term employees.
A friend just shared how their non-profit was recognizing employees who had served with the organization for 10, 20, 30 and 40 years. What a statement about the health of a workplace!
On the other end, if most of the employees in your organization are new, or if you are seeing tons of turnover, this is almost always a sign that something is seriously wrong – typically with the upper echelon’s of leadership. Most likely, the leaders are not listening, or not valuing people the way they should be.
Long-term employees are a huge sign of health, and a statement to the entire organization that people are valued there.
4. Award good workers.
You can’t treat all employees the same. You have to reward those who are getting the job done, or going above and beyond, otherwise your best workers will realize their work is not appreciated any more than others, and will stop giving so much.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe most organizations need to be more vocal about their gratefulness for every employee, not just the highest-producing workers. But give special benefits to those who are making the most difference.
5. Clarify wins for each worker.
Don’t assume your team knows their role, or how to make you happy. Leaders have to define roles and assignments for the team, and set goals and assignments that will stretch each worker without overwhelming them.
Clarify what they need to be doing on a weekly, monthly and annual basis to make you happy, and then give them space and room to run with their individual assignments as well.
6. Take people with you.
Don’t constantly change the vision of the organization. Don’t jump from one exciting project to another while your team is left wondering what is really important.
One of the best books I’ve read about this is Taking People With You by David Novak, the executive chairman of YUM! Brands.
As a leader, you have to go far enough ahead that people are inspired by the vision, but slow enough and clear enough that your team is still with you.