I recently transitioned to a new company within my industry. I have found my new role to be very rewarding. The pace of my work has slowed, which allows me to focus on honing my skills and improving the business. In previous roles I found that extra margin to be lacking. I am also very thankful for the better “work / life balance” I’ve been able to enjoy as well.
I have found my new work environment to be void of one very important characteristic, and it’s giving me grey hair by the day.
Trust is arguably the most precious commodity in business, as in almost every other part of life. Lack of it can poison the work environment and paralyze growth.
There a few measures of a healthy business environment that smacks in the face of what I’ve experienced.
- Seek First to Understand – Rather than a rush to judgement and an assumption of the worst, people choose to stop and better understand a fellow co-worker before acting. This takes a reinvention of our instincts. Most people are born with a mistrust of others, so it is natural to assume the worst. In order to achieve understand one has to resist the knee-jerk reaction and pause before responding. Seek to understand what makes the other person tick. Seek to understand why productivity may be suffering. Is it a lack of training, or is it deliberate? Seek to understand the strengths of a person, and how to lead using them. More importantly, seek to understand their weaknesses and engage them on a path towards personal growth.
- Cease Gossip – Negatives should travel up, not down, and if you’re not a part of the solution you have no business being a part of the conversation. Dave Ramsey’s team defines Gossip as discussing anything negative with someone who can’t help solve the problem. This is key. Gossip ruins culture quick. Until you squash it, nothing is going to change. Take problems directly to the source. As a leader, resist the temptation to lament the challenges of your role with those who report to you. Be mindful of confidentiality and respect the definition of gossip given above.
- Show Appreciation – Showing genuine appreciation can right many wrongs. Most people feel underpaid and under appreciated at work. I know I have felt that way at times. Why would I not expect my team to feel the same way. Now, when I am tempted to throw a pity party for myself I get up from my desk and look for ways to appreciate my team. They soak it up! They long for it. Appreciation should flow in all directions, up, down and sideways.
- Helping Hands – You don’t hear, “That’s not my job” in a healthy business environment. Nothing boils my blood quicker in the workplace than this phrase. It shows lack of teamwork, it shows disrespect, and it shows no passion on the part of the person saying it. That isn’t the kind of person I want working for me, or with me. Pull your head out of your rear end and acknowledge that none of us can do this alone, we have to work as a team.
No company is perfect, and no doubt you’ve experienced similar challenges as a leader.
The buck stops here, and I drive the culture of my team. I have to remind myself to stay focused on the important things and drive a shift in culture by practicing these simple steps.
What steps have you taken to improve the culture where you work? What has worked, and what hasn’t?