How to Build a Positive Work Culture
Your workplace was easy when it was just you. As you've added to your team, you've seen new insights and ideas. Your company has grown, but so have the problems. Those new insights and ideas don't always match yours. Building a strong and positive company culture is important if you want to incorporate your ideas and manage differences between your team members. Let's look at the ways that you can build a positive work culture in your company.
What Is Work Culture?
Work culture is much like our overall culture. It's a collection of beliefs, customs, ethics, and behaviors that your company adopts over time. Everyone, from the CEO to entry-level employees helps to create the practices of your work culture and reinforce them.
A positive work culture comes about when the priority of the culture is the well-being of employees. Note, I said culture. Your priority as a business is to stay in business - that is to make money. You have a mission and vision that guide how you meet that goal.
The most common mistake I have seen from companies large and small is to assume or enforce that the priority of the work culture is the same as the priority of the business. They make the goals of the company - to succeed and make money - the priority of the culture. In the process, they find their workers dissatisfied, stressed, and constantly on the edge of burnout.
What Makes for a Positive Work Culture
After over a decade, the work of Cameron et al still holds true. A positive work culture will contain at least these six elements:
1. A focus on the well-being of individuals in the company
Addendum: Part of ensuring well-being is helping individuals in the company find a good work/life balance
2. A support network for people within the company in times of need
3. A culture that forgives and moves forward from mistakes rather than assigning blame
Addendum: While it is important for companies to promote forgiveness and move forward within their company, the work culture overall is harmed when leaders are not held accountable for their mistakes
4. A culture that encourages individuals to inspire each other
5. An emphasis on the meaningful aspects of the work
6. A priority on trust, respect, gratitude, and integrity
I have added two addendums to these six elements. Work culture is influenced by what happens outside of work. If the people in your company are not able to achieve a good work/life balance, that will reflect on how they interact with their work culture.
Likewise, the lack of accountability we have seen in some industries has been disastrous for both the work culture in those industries and the employees who work in the affected companies. Lack of accountability means that those who make mistakes and do harm can continue doing so. It also undermines the work culture and shows employees that they don't matter as much as the company says they do.
How Do You Create a Positive Work Culture?
Now that you understand what makes a positive work culture and why it's important, let's look at how you build that environment
1. Identify your core values as an organization. These will be like your mission and vision as a company but will focus inward on how you treat your workers and how they treat each other.
2. Provide clear, consistent, and open communication. It's important that you communicate the vision, needs, and conditions of your company to everyone. Likewise, you need to maintain open lines of communication so that your workers can communicate their needs and problems without worrying about negative repercussions.
3. Set clear expectations. If your workers know what's expected of them, they'll be able to do their job.
4. Show appreciation for your employees and teams. Appreciation can come in many forms. Bonuses and office get-togethers are good for morale. However, don't overlook what really matters to your employees. Employees truly feel valued when,
They see their input matters
They receive compensation that meets their needs and goals
They see accountability at all levels
They receive recognition for their work
5. Lead by example. It's important that your leaders embody everything above in how they interact with their teams and the employees in their charge.
Creating a positive work culture is not easy. It takes time. Importantly, it isn’t something that can wait. Decide as you grow your business, from just you on, what you want your work culture to be. Test your vision, make changes, and as you bring on more team members, embody those ideas, listen to their ideas, and create together the work culture that you desire.