We create a culture at work made up of behavioral norms. One of the most important roles of a manager or director is setting values for that culture. Ideally, the corporate culture promotes a feeling of comfort and support that keeps employees motivated and productive. Here are eight key ideas to consider if you want a culture that gets the most out of your employees and co-workers and helps them feel like they are part of a team, all pulling the same direction.
- Pass It On – Treat employees as you want them to treat both internal and external customers. Most of us say we want our customers treated well, but that is very hard for staff to do if they are treated poorly. If your workers live in a culture of care, communication and support, they will pass it on. The Customer Comes Second by Rosenbluth and Peters is a great place to learn more about this concept.
- Train Continually – Some managers worry that well-trained workers will inevitably move on, nullifying the investment in training. But what happens if you do not train them well and they stay with you? You will have a poorly trained workforce representing you poorly for all time. Well-trained workers are more likely to stay because the work environment is supportive. They feel valued when you invest in their education.
- Reward Continually – Say thanks daily for work well done and find small ways to reward good work along with the bigger ones of promotions and bonuses. Birthday lunches, a social hour at the end of a workday occasionally and other signs of appreciation encourage people to know and help each other. Plan an occasional day offsite for an employee social event.
- Support Honesty – Tell employees what you know when you know it and encourage honesty and transparency. When you lie or conceal information about organizational change, you have to require others to lie or conceal information. You encourage deceit and that backfires for they know you do not value honesty. If you are truly proud of your products and services, being honest about them should not be a liability. If you need encouragement in this area, watch the movie, Miracle on 34th Street for the 67th time (1947 movie).
- Plan with Input – Involve everyone in planning. If we all understand the direction we want the organization to move, we pull together. When we don’t agree or don’t fully understand what the ultimate goals are, we pull in opposite directions and that costs the organization in money, goodwill and dysfunction.
- Meet Regularly – Weekly updates help everyone stay on track. It’s easy to remind everyone of objectives and thank them for progress if you get together frequently. Posting objectives with monthly updates is also a way to keep measurable results in front of everyone.
- Maintain Pay and Benefits at Industry Standards –Pay is definitely one of the measures of caring from the employer. If they see you being rewarded financially in your role, but they are held back, they will soon be looking for a better work environment. Giving bonuses based upon performance will reward achievement of objectives.
- Coach Workers Toward Desired Behavior and Review Often – Avoid “you’re doing it wrong,” and give suggestions for desired behavior, “I might suggest you . . .” or “You may find more success by . . .” Scolding and public embarrassment actually do not work with children or animals and certainly has no place in the professional workplace. Regular performance reviews help employees understand your expectations, how they are doing, and how they might improve. The review provides a chance to compliment and coach. Quarterly reviews are ideal, allowing you to update each employee on their role in meeting objectives four times a year and resolving any issues promptly before they can become major problems.
Workers stay with organizations a long time when they feel like they are working with people who care about them. Deceptive behavior or abrupt, unexplained decisions on the part of managers unsettle everyone. These tried and true suggestions can help you create a sustainable workplace based on thoughtful practices designed to build a culture of communication, caring and support. – Tim Merriman