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Mar 3, 201409:53 AMOpen Mic

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How to create a positive workplace culture

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Creating a positive workplace culture is extremely important to cultivating a productive and profitable company. When the environment we work in is positive, we become more engaged and committed employees. By definition, workplace culture is a pattern of behaviors that are supported by a management system over time. Harnessing the power of positive reinforcement is the quickest and most efficient way to a better workplace culture.

The first step in creating a more positive workplace culture is recognizing that your current culture is not where you want it to be. It can be difficult to define your culture —almost like nailing Jell-O to a wall — because it is made up of many small behaviors. But it starts at the top with company leaders. The way they act and behave will be mirrored by employees. So if you want to change the behavior of your employees, start by changing the behavior of your leaders.

Leaders can start doing this by listening to their employees and understanding what motivates them. Get to know them, ask them their opinions, and share yours in return. I think the most powerful things that bosses can do are communicate, be transparent, and tell people where the ship is headed. Bosses should be asking questions like, “What are we doing that we could be doing better? What’s broken, and how can we fix it?” Ask those questions, listen to the employees and, most importantly, empower the employees to go fix the problems.

Research tells us that more than money, employees want to feel like they are making a difference at work and getting recognized by their boss for making that difference.

As employees, we want the ability to do things, to change things. So often employees’ ideas are not listened to or acted upon. It is the boss’s responsibility to provide the money, the time, and the resources for employees to complete tasks and make improvements, and to then celebrate and recognize those people for their contributions.

Now, this goes against many traditional management styles — the command-and-control, my-way-or-the-highway mindsets of old. The majority of bosses do what I call “Leave Alone/Zap” management. Simply put, it means that we leave employees alone and say nothing when they do something right, but we are quick to “zap” them when they make a mistake.

This kind of aggressive management style might get the job done temporarily, but it doesn’t create an environment where employees will take the initiative to do things when their supervisor isn’t watching. And it will not produce the highest-performing culture possible.

Rosabeth Moss-Kanter, a professor at the Harvard Business School and an author of numerous books on business management techniques, said, “Compensation is a right. Recognition is a gift.” In other words, paychecks get people to show up for work. But to get more from people than just average performance requires you as a leader to provide additional coaching and feedback when people demonstrate the behaviors that drive results in your company. Bosses who think they don’t need to tell their employees they are doing a good job are not fully engaging them. It doesn’t cost you any money to tell somebody they did a great job. Believe it or not, saying thank you for doing a good job is a much more powerful motivator than a paycheck.

(Continued)

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