While employee perks – such as catered lunches, happy hours, and gym memberships are great – they don’t make or break an organization’s culture. Your office’s values, how employees embody them, and how they impact success makes more of an impact on creating a culture that makes people want to stay.
When asked how a leader can help create a healthy work environment, here’s what our mentors had to say:
Motivate through empowerment
Joe da Silva emphasizes the importance of delegation in leading a high-performing team. “First and foremost, if you have multiple teams, delegate a team leader to each team. By doing that, you have reduced the people you deal with and have greatly empowered some individuals. You made them part of the leadership group.”
By instilling a greater sense of responsibility, such as that of leading a team, you’ll leave employees feeling like they’re making large contributions to your organization’s success. Great leaders understand that when employees feels autonomy and ownership over their work, it motivates them to put in their best effort.
Work with your team to create a positive impact
Building a strong cultural foundation isn’t an isolated effort. Jack Haynes recommends asking your team for their input on how to improve it. “Too often, I have felt like management dances around the topic or indirectly subtly tries to influence culture without talking about the topic frankly and then engaging everyone to make needed adjustments.” This also relates to feeling a sense of ownership – when team members feel like their voices were heard and thoughts considered, they’re more likely to respect and implement upcoming changes.
Focus your team’s efforts on individuals’ strengths
Another community member suggests you “Focus on developing and enhancing each team member’s strength, instead of asking them to improve on their shortcoming. Build a team with team members complimentary to one another.” By allowing your team members to shine in their strong suits and providing them with positive feedback, they’ll feel more inspired to continue the behavior.
Demonstrate you trust your team and value their opinions
It seems the solution to many workplace challenges can be solved with “communication and transparency.” That just goes to show how powerful those two behaviors truly are, and Jon Freeman explains why they’re fitting in this particular case, “Listening shows you respect your team’s abilities. Overcommunication (repeating yourself) ensures everyone understands what needs to be done and avoids the problem of miscommunications. And finally, transparency shows you trust your people and provides them with what they need to achieve their objectives most efficiently.”
Joseph Cipriano suggests putting these behaviors into practice by conducting a team survey. “360 degree evaluations where employees evaluate themselves, their bosses and their peers can provide useful insights for individuals and management that help improve workplace productivity and fun.” He also recommends having off-site meetings if possible, in which your teams can better connect with one another on problems they’re currently facing and collaborate on trying to find solutions.
Drive action by “walking the talk”
Sheila Miller shares, “One of the best pieces of advice I have received on this topic is to be the voice of the culture, and defend it at all times. When you ‘walk the talk,’ you set an example for your teams. This will encourage them to do the same. Remind your team that everyone can be a leader, whether they manage people or not. When they lead by example and represent the company’s culture, they will in turn influence others to do the same.”
Jennifer Ceran agrees that setting the example is one of the most powerful moves you can make here. “It is all about behaviors that the most senior leaders display. Culture is what people at the company actually do, not what is written in a company credo.” As they say, actions speak louder than words.
Celebrate not only the big wins, but small victories too
John Turley recommends influencing employee motivation and engagement by maintaining a positive attitude. “Demonstrate your leadership by staying positive all of the time. Congratulate individual employees for small victories. Walk the halls and talk with your people as much as possible.”
Often times, we focus on delivering constructive criticism and while that feedback does contribute to growth and improvement, not sharing enough positive feedback can take a toll on employees’ morale. By recognizing more of your team’s successes, your team will feel appreciated, understand their contributions are impactful, and make for a more pleasant work environment overall.
In summary, to positively impact your team’s culture:
- Shine a spotlight on individuals’ strengths
- Instill a sense of ownership within each team member
- Listen to and incorporate your team’s input
- Lead by example
- Recognize both large and small achievements