There is nothing worse than your workplace being like a War Zone where people are constantly sniping, attacking and strategising the downfall of colleagues.
It is draining on everyone, because there is "Collateral Damage" in any conflict.
Even more, it is costing your business $$$$'s every day in wasted time, resources, ill-feelings, disconnection, miscommunication, lost employees, lost customers, sick days, HR interventions, Fairwork hearings and the list goes on and on.
There are many different elements that create tension, frustration and poor workplace culture. Such as:
The generational gap and a lack of understanding and tolerance of each other.
The lack of training, did you know that 78% of people in the work place have not had any formal training?
One of the common things I hear is from Supervisors and Managers who say they have been promoted and have had no training, so they are just expected to manage people and yet have zero training in Leadership skills.
So here are 11 things that can be addressed to enhance, develop and create a great work place culture.
1. Us vs Them - One of the most toxic things in a work place is an "Us vs Them" culture. This can be between departments or teams, it can be between management and the work force. Perhaps even a generational gap....Whatever it is, it needs to stop.
One of the methods I have used very successfully in many businesses that I have been asked to assist, is to break this pattern of behaviour by introducing a "no blame culture". In a nutshell this comes down to not jumping to conclusions and taking the easy route of assigning blame, but bringing acceptance and curiosity to the situation. This in turn will empower those involved to explore the current situation and come up with solutions.
There are many other solutions to address this issue, but this one works well and creates a sustainable, growth based solution.
2. Lack of Vision - Let's face it, when we do not have a clue what is going on, why we are doing it, or even what we are doing it for....Our motivation is zero.
What happens when we have an unmotivated team? Chaos, they find their own amusement, because who wants to do something that they have no idea about.
Now here is the kicker, don't assume they know.....ASK. Seek clarification of understanding, not only will this create engagement, it will also build the relationship and trust, because you actually give a sh*t and you are not seen as being too busy to care. Communicate the big picture as much as the little picture.
3. Poor Communication - This ties in with #2, when there is poor or no communication things go down hill very very quickly.
In 1982 during the Falklands War communication was hampered by the poor weather conditions at the time. Morse Code was the only form of communication that would get through the weather on the equipment they had. The problem was that there were very few Morse Code Operators available and chaos took over. The outcome was that following that conflict Morse Code training was re-established.
Do your staff know how to communicate effectively? I mean we have all been trained to talk and the words to use, but have you ever been trained to listen?
Communication is a 2 way strategy....if people don't listen, you can communicate as effectively as you like, but it will not be received and that will equal chaos.
4. Gossip & Tittle Tattle - We all do it, but how aware are we that we are doing it? Even more, how do we stop? Education is the best way, first to raise awareness, then to recognise the impact and toxicity of it and then to have a zero tolerance towards it.
Gossip creates the Us vs Them culture I have already mentioned, gossip stops when it hits people who will not listen. Create a culture of Acceptance and Tolerance and you will remove the gossip.
5. Crap Recruiting - Generally when a person leaves a place of employment for whatever reason, there is a feeling of urgency that they must be replaced as soon as possible. This is a fear based feeling and is generally acted upon subconsciously.
Therefore recruitment is based on qualifications and effectiveness. There is very little consideration made to see if they will fit in with the team. You may have had a "star" shaped person leave, and you have found a "square" shaped person who is very qualified and gets great results to fit in that "star" shaped gap. You will have to either reshape that team to accept the "square" or bash the "square" until they become "star" shaped....or you could take your time and find a great "star" who will slot perfectly into the "star" hole.
There are many tools out there to make this process easy and effective, but because most people are acting from a fear based subconscious behaviour, they react, rather than respond.
6. Vulnerability & Empowerment - Vulnerability is something that many people are afraid of. I run a 2 day workshop on Vulnerability and at the start of the workshop the general consensus of opinion is that Vulnerability is scary, weak and something to be avoided, especially in a professional environment. However by the end of the workshop those opinions have done a complete 180 degree flip. Because, they have discovered that Vulnerability is the key to connection, acceptance and through Vulnerability comes inclusions, ideas, and growth.
Vulnerability needs to be displayed from the top down and this is where it generally gets stuck.
Exec's do not want to be seen as Vulnerable and getting things wrong. They have a very antiquated way of thinking and this drives a work place culture of fear and hiding. It is a very closed mindset and impacts everyone. Embrace the uncertainty of Vulnerability and watch your work place culture change almost overnight.
7. Leadership - How many leaders do you want in your business? What do you think the role of a leader is? Are your leaders emotionally intelligent?
Are your leaders emotionally intimate......oooooh there is a word.....intimate, should we be even using such a word in the professional world of work place culture. Sure, anyone can be emotionally intelligent, which is being present to the emotions of others, but emotionally intimate is a whole level deeper.
To be emotionally intimate is to understand emotions deeply, to recognise, understand and know what another person is experiencing and this is where the gold is......how to connect with that person, be with them, validate them, and be present with them. Then to be able to assist that person, without becoming emotionally involved and dragged down the rabbit hole with them. Now that is a Leadership skill.
How many leaders should you have? I believe all of your workforce should be leaders, it will help grow and develop the business and create a workplace culture that is second to none. A place where everyone has value and is valued. Many say it is impossible, but I have business clients where it is happening right now and I am happy to introduce you to them to prove it is possible.
8. Rituals - Get rid of them, meetings for the sake of meetings. Reports for the sake of reports, unless what is happening has a quantifiable positive impact on a process, get rid of it. Embrace the Vulnerability of asking your workforce what their thoughts are. Empower them to become leaders and share with you their insights, thoughts, ideas and experience. Listen to them, with all of your being. Don't listen to answer, listen to understand. Whenever you hear "that's just how it's done" or "that's how we always do it" these should be massive warning signs.
9. Ego - Ego is a fear based behaviour. Did you know that there are 6 things that the ego needs? The need to be right, to look good, to judge, to know, to justify and the need to get even. If you recognise any of these playing out in conversations, processes and interactions, then the Ego is driving the moment.
Once again, not many people are aware of these needs and that lack of awareness is costing your business $$$$'s
10. Communication - I have touched on communication throughout this article and the importance of good clear, honest, simple and effective communication has to be a matter of priority. The base line is that if things are not happening the way they should be, it will be down to a break down in communication somewhere.
11. Standards - The standard you are willing to walk past is the standard you are willing to accept.
These 11 elements, if addressed and focused upon will create a culture of acceptance, tolerance, understanding.....which in turn will drive your business forward.
Most of these things can be easily addressed with good quality training and I am not talking about the "online" training that most business use these days. If you have this type of training in your business you are merely saving money and blowing sunshine up your arse.
Because you are not serving your workforce, you are just getting a tick in the box. Have you ever sat down and done one of those online trainings and engaged in it, or as 92% of employees do, just complete it to get the certificate that they need, so they can hand it into their Supervisor and get on with what they do. So that the Supervisor can get their tick in the box to say that all their team have done the training. So that the HR exec can report to you that the workforce are all fully trained and you can have that feel good factor. Does that ring true?
If you are going to invest in training, get a decent, reputable trainer in, who has real life results and knows what they are talking about. Otherwise, you people will see through you and know that you are only paying lip service to their training and in return, they will do the bear minimum for you. Dr Cialdini in his book "Influence - The psychology of persuasion" discuss the law or reciprocity. If you give someone something they value, they feel compelled to return the gift in any way. Provide valuable training, that will benefit the recipient both professionally and personally and they will repay you through loyalty, hard work and outstanding results. It is a fact based proven law. Let me ask you....is online training really that valuable? I think you have your answer.
As you can probably see, I am very passionate about this, as I have worked all over the world in many different countries and have experienced all sorts of work place cultures as well as different global cultures. I now use all of my experiences and my training in Human Behaviour to assist other people create fantastic work place cultures so that everyone enjoys going to work. Because after all, we spend more time working than we do anything else, so doesn't it make sense to have a work place that is fun, respectful, engaging, inspiring and constantly achieving great things?
I turst this article has served you, identified 11 areas where you can focus and if you wish to discuss any of this further with me, I would love to hear from you either in the comments below or email me firstname.lastname@example.org and let's have a chat.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article.
Have a great day
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