What’s in your culture?“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Anonymous
Culture is the most critical aspect of creating a healthy and enjoyable workplace for your employees and is one of the most strategic ways to bring recognition and success in your organization. When a company does not cultivate a positive culture, it becomes harder for employees to be productive or satisfied. Unfortunately, poor culture leads to low retention and high turnover rates. An employee would rather run away from a company that has a negative culture rather than be a part of it. This is why it’s extremely important to create a culture of kindness at your workplace.
Developing a kindness culture is not difficult. If you’re looking to turn your company culture around, I have five tips to share plus a bonus tip. I did a webinar with BQE back in March before the pandemic took over to discuss how to create a kind culture within the organization. Despite the changes in our work environment due to the coronavirus, you can still work on instilling kindness in the workplace remotely. Read on to see which tips you can start implementing today.
Culture Tips To Eat For Breakfast
1. Model yourself
Have you ever had a role model in your life that you looked up to and learned from? Your role model could be someone in your family, a friend, or a character from a movie. Whoever it is, you’re observing how they lead, communicate and, hopefully, empower others. You should think about how you represent yourself to someone who looks at you as their role model and choose to be a radical role model. You may not be aware of this, but your own co-workers are paying attention and considering if you’re someone they should follow or not.
You can be a positive role model and show other managers within your organization how to be the same. To do this, follow the CLEAR method I came up with:
Confidence – be confident in yourself; create good work ethic, and instill confidence in others. It’s contagious and confidence is a good thing if you want your organization to become well known as having a positive and kind culture.
Lead – leading others is important, and here’s a tip within a tip! Don’t think managers and supervisors are the only leaders in the company. The truth is that everyone is a leader in their own right within the organization. Yes, you’re also a leader. If you’re doing your job, following up and working smart on your tasks while being of service to your other colleagues, you’ll be looked at as a leader. Model yourself as an effective, and energetic leader.
Empower – part of being a leader is to empower others to have confidence in who they are and how they are servicing the organization. You’re constantly cheering them on and making sure your employees and fellow colleagues have the power to make positive changes.
Appreciate – Being a role model means to appreciate others. Let your employees know why you appreciate the work they do, and what they mean to the organization’s success.
Respect – Giving regards to others and respecting the different ethnicities, backgrounds, experiences and cultures lets others watching you know to do the same. Respecting people is an important aspect of creating a kind culture. Without it, your employees and colleagues will lose respect for you.
2. Communicate with others consistently
Speaking to others with kindness and respect is important, but what’s even more imperative is to speak to others consistently. As we wade through the pandemic, we have to consider different ways of communicating since we’re not meeting each other face to face. Of course, effective interpersonal communication builds trust between the executives and their employees; however, it also provides a way to give others a voice to speak up and talk.
As a manager, or an executive leader, you should consider allowing open door policies at work (even remotely by being available to talk to your employees). The open door policy is meant to create trust because you’re giving the time to your employee to talk to you about important things that may need more attention. For example, perhaps one of your colleagues is seeing a need for more training, or to discuss a certain situation. Rather than keeping the door shut and stating what you think should happen, you should allow your employee to openly talk and let their voice be heard. We all want to be heard, right? When your employees feel that they can open up to you and discuss ideas, situations, and needs it helps bridge the gap of communication, and you gain trust while developing positive relationships.
Finally, communication helps to bring clarity about things. Misunderstandings happen when people speak vaguely and without communicating their needs either due to the fear of losing their jobs, demotion, retaliation or for other reasons. The open door policy allows for both the employees and managers to speak to one another and provide clarity so each person knows what to expect from the other. Keep the doors open, and make sure that everyone knows what’s going on within the company so there are no secrets, or vagueness, and no way to create a negative work environment due to these things.
3. Acknowledge others constantly
One of your employees just got a major client on board with your product or service. It’s exciting news for both the company and for your employee. How do you acknowledge them? When working toward creating a kind culture, you should acknowledge the wins of your employees whether they are big or small. If your employee just won a major sale for the company that boosts profitability and productivity, then they should be recognized – bonuses, promotions and commission are all fine and dandy; however, employees are looking at their managers for acknowledgment in the form of encouraging words. Sending a card celebrating their win, maybe providing lunch for all co-workers in that employee’s honor (or sending them lunch as they work remotely from home) would be a great way to show you’re celebrating them. Giving gift cards from Amazon works too. Above all, a congratulatory note and a celebration for both small and big wins creates incentives for other employees to follow suit, and increases productivity as well. Think about it – it feels good to be recognized for your accomplishments, even if it’s for something as small as entering time correctly on your time card.
4. Collaboration is KEY
Let’s face it. As humans we thrive when we work together. Collaboration is important in the workplace whether you’re working with your team, or with the company as a whole for a few reasons. First, everyone has the chance to brainstorm together on ideas and solutions to solve issues, or to get a project going based on a question – the “why.” The why is what creates the goal and the tasks the team will take on in order to fulfill the purpose they’ve set for themselves. Joining forces with other members ignites creative juices and everyone has the opportunity to gain knowledge from each other. Next, collaboration brings out individual strengths that can be pooled together and empowers creativity to occur. If one person has an idea, usually, they share it with others who can help them make their concept a reality. Ultimately, collaboration opens doors to others and creates stronger relationships because people who work together in partnership often find a sense of belonging within the team, and each individual’s tasks are completed seamlessly as they inch closer toward their main goal. A culture of kindness can occur when there is collaboration both through the departments as well as throughout the entire organization. Without this important key, the organization will have culture, but there may or may not be kindness.
5. Create meaning in the workplace
If you’ve heard people tell you they want to be able to do something that’s bigger then themselves, it’s usually because they want to create meaning. Whether this means being a philanthropist, or taking on social responsibility at work, most people want to do something meaningful within the workplace. A great way to implement meaning in the workplace is to give back to the community as much as possible. Your organization can start a food drive and make it a fun competition. Whichever department brings in the most cans and other non-perishable items will win a prize (Amazon gift cards for the department employees, cake and ice cream day, etc.).
Another way to create meaning is to work on developing employees into leaders who will grow in the company. Leadership development programs are wonderful ways to bring everyone together in the company, and this could be done as a weekend getaway retreat for everyone, or as a weekly or bimonthly lunch and learn where you invite guest speakers to come into the company and speak on a topic that helps everyone learn a new idea, or leadership skill they can implement to increase their performance. In fact, having a succession plan is a good idea so you have a good idea of who is growing and will be next in line to take over for a higher role should the current individual in said role decides to retire or something happens. For those employees who want to do more than just their job in the company, development programs are extremely conducive to creating a kind culture in the workplace.
Finally, have integrity – be reliable toward those you work with and encourage others to be the same. Integrity in a kind work culture builds trust, and allows leaders, managers and employees to have more autonomy over their work within the organization.
6. Create connections with others
Connections are important for us for a number of reasons. If you’re needing a confidant to speak to, you connect with a trusted friend or colleague who you can talk to. Without connecting with your colleagues, co-workers, leaders and managers, you can’t create a kind culture, and you certainly will not be able to connect with those who can help you move up within the company or help you when you need it the most. It’s easy to make connections, especially if you have new employees who have just been hired to work for your company.
As an employer, a great way to make connections between current and new employees is to have a monthly Meet n’ Greet event. Simply book an hour of time on a Friday either during the lunch hour, or after work hours, and have everyone use the time to eat, and network with one another. This helps employees to get to know one another, and the quiet ones who don’t talk will also have the chance to mingle and meet their colleagues one on one (more on Introverts and Extroverts in another future blog). Happy hours are another way to make connections. Before COVID happened, we had our happy hours in person after work once per month. Now, we have happy hours online via Zoom and so far, it’s been working out great!
There are other simple ways to create connections – firstly, smile. It’s contagious and a great way to exhibit as well as be part of a kind work culture. Secondly, slow down. Don’t just rush into work at 8am, stay cooped up in the office, run out for lunch, and then leave quickly at 5pm! Come in to work, greet people. Maybe buy coffee and donuts to share with your department. Go out to eat lunch with your colleagues or do something with them after work hours. Leaders and managers need to encourage connections, and should actually meet with their employees regularly for lunch, or to connect once a week and catch up. This helps build a solid foundation for future mentorship/sponsorship opportunities and growth.
Creating a culture of kindness at the workplace is important if you want productive, confident employees who are satisfied at their job and who want to grow with the company. It brings a sense of belonging, fulfillment and positivity that would otherwise be missing in a workplace culture that does not embrace kindness.