There are problems with our workplace culture. People aren’t getting along, and various factions are complaining about others. It’s young versus old; accounting versus sales. As people talk about personality issues, less work is getting done. It’s a huge waste of time, and we’re being less productive.
You’re at a loss of what to do.
That was the scenario described in a recent New York Times Work Friend column, and the response baffled me. The columnist just said, basically, tell everyone to grow up, be more mature and try harder to get along and improve workplace culture.
You Need Action to Make Change
While that may feel good saying, they’re offering no specific action. People can’t act if they don’t know how to change. In fact, I’d argue that if you told people to just grow up, they’d ignore you or just laugh.
Telling people they’re acting like babies, however truthful, has zero impact. When the organizational workplace culture is poor, the real way to turn it around is to help everyone change their behavior. People need to know the actions to take to be different, so everyone can get positive results.
And when they know specifically what to do, step by step, better workplace culture will follow.
3 Steps to Changing Workplace Culture for the Better
Here are three steps to stop warring factions and turn that around for a great workplace culture:
Help people understand their purpose. What does our organization do for society? What do we do to help accomplish that?
We ALL have a greater purpose. Realtors help people find houses to live comfortably. A UPS store keeps the wheels of commerce going and delivers both vital needs and wishes.
A restaurant worker helps feed people so they can enjoy life. A news reporter—or blogger—keeps people informed so they can make wise decisions.
People in every organization need to know their purpose and be reminded regularly, as it’s vital for our motivation. When you say something like “just grow up,” you’re really saying, “do your damn job!” Knowing your purpose improves workplace culture by putting everyone in the frame of mind of understanding their reason for coming to work and connecting them to the bigger picture of helping others.
Supervisors have a responsibility to know their team members. They should have short meetings or check-ins, at least once a week and even better if it’s more often.
Supervisors need to check in with their employees to find out how they’re doing and share what’s happening in each other’s lives. It doesn’t need to be long; just 2-10 minutes per week.
Checking in and asking, “How’s it going?” shows employees that the boss cares about them. It also allows for problems to surface in a safe, one-on-one environment.
If something isn’t going well, they can use the check-in as an opportunity to address any issues specifically and course correct.
For great workplace culture, employees must get to know and connect with each other. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to set the stage for employees to learn about each other. We work for organizations, but we’re motivated to do a good job—for each other.
One easy way to get to know our teammates quickly is doing ice breakers before staff or project meetings.
Going around the room and sharing things like what everyone is streaming, interesting podcasts, and what fun thing they did over the weekend helps everyone understand each other just a bit more. Then, when we need to do a project together, we are working with people we know and like, and it gets the team functioning well. And that leads to higher productivity.
Step by step, a better culture will evolve and grow. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a little time, but I guarantee it works. As a longtime CEO, I’ve done this successfully multiple times, and with commitment, you can too.
Barry Moline is a keynote speaker, 26-year CEO and author of Connect! How to Quickly Collaborate for Success in Business and Life. He offers effective, connective ways to communicate, which help your success in both the workplace and beyond. Download his free 30+ Workplace Icebreakers to Use Right Now and start opening up and branching out!
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