Employees want what you want: to be treated kindly, to be given opportunities to flourish, to feel appreciated, to be connected to something that matters, to be happy and have some fun, and to be part of a culture that enables rather than limits their excellence. Like all of us on personal and community levels, workers want to know that their hearts are safe.
Gone are the days when fear- and ego-driven work cultures were the most productive. Fear perpetuates and intensifies decay. Trust encourages and enables growth. Knowing this, why not strive to build the brightest business culture possible? Here are five easy ways to do this:
- Use your ears, then your mind, then your voice. I serve as a consultant to some of the most successful entrepreneurs on earth, including Fortune 500 billionaires. While there are several common traits these folks have, one stands out: they listen. Intently. The want to know what is working and what is not. They then synthesize this information, sometimes on the spot and sometimes later. After this, they share their thoughts, hoping to hear more feedback before crafting a final solution or change. In other words, once they absorb the information that their employees, advisors, friends—whomever—have shared, they process it and then give themselves opportunities to listen some more, as they ask for feedback on what they have come up with by processing the first round of information. Bottom line: Using your ears never hurt anyone.
- Pay compliments when thoughts of gratitude cross your mind. Every time. The idea that a positive thought is not expressed to the person or people you have it about is almost preposterous to me. When was the last time someone you praised felt crappy because you did that?!? With today’s instantaneous communication options, it is easy to say the positive things you are thinking. And, if you are “too busy” to do it on the spot, then send a pre-fabricated text or email that says to the recipient: “Remind me to share the great thought I just had about you.” Think about how even that message will positively impact whoever gets it. Then, when you have more time, express why you are grateful. And, here is the kicker: it is impossible to be negative and grateful at the same time. So, as you express your appreciation, your mood is elevated too. Bottom line: Saying nice things helps everyone feel and do better.
- Provide good news sources to your employees. You know what harms the heart and dents morale? Listening to or reading the news from traditional media. Why do we support information sources that validate the credo “No news is good news.”? There are so many great, positive news sources that reflect the good in humans, which buoys people rather than crush them. Check out websites like goodnewsnetwork.org. Buy subscriptions for your employees. It is possible to change how we view the world, to shift from fear to trust, simply by changing what we choose to see or hear. If we feel more positive about the world around us, we want to support others rather than shirk from them. Bottom line: Good news lifts spirits.
- Schedule regular employee events that have nothing to do with work. Want to create camaraderie among your staff? Want to build a team dedicated to a common cause? Want everyone at your workplace to focus on doing right by their employer? Then give folks a chance to escape, together, from work at work. This does not have to be a company picnic or softball team. It can be much simpler and effective than that:
Gather everyone to watch a funny or touching video on YouTube;
Sit down in a group room and listen to 20 minutes of great new music while drinking smoothies;
Round folks up for a quick game of domino falling. Split up into teams to see which group can create the best fall trick;
Invite everyone to close their eyes with their feet up on their desks for a few minutes, either playing their favorite music on headphones or just enjoying peace and quiet, while you silently pass out different gift cards. After the feet-up session they need to give away a card twice to different people before getting one that they get to keep;
Put very obtuse caricature drawings you had done of each person in a funny outfit around the place and then you ask people to move around to guess who is who.
The intent here is to create events that bring people together without focusing on business or bringing people together. Bottom line: Unintentional gatherings create synergy when it is needed.
- Always put your heart into business decisions and relationships. In other words, in all things entrepreneurial never put your heart on the shelf. For that matter, when would this ever be acceptable? The phrase “just business” should only mean “fair, equitable, and ethical” and never “discount what you know is right in order to gain financially”. By keeping your heart engaged you engender trust among those around you. When your employees see that others’ best interests are incorporated into your behavior, they will consciously and subconsciously grow in trust and away from any concerns they may have stored up from previous employers who did not understand the consequences of ego- or fear-based work environments.