Business gurus have trumpeted the importance of workplace culture for years. Hundreds of books, if not thousands, have been written on the topic. This means that the answer to the question – “What is a workplace culture and how do you get it?” is a hard question to summarize. Below I offer thoughts from Lion Leadership on an action-oriented conceptualization of culture that seems to work best for our highest performing organizations.
Culture is defined by the collective emotional energy of the people that work for you.
Does it feel awesome to work for your brand? Well, then you have an awesome culture. Does it feel energizing? Exciting? Well, then you have an energizing and exciting culture. Or does it feel stressful? Uncertain? And demoralizing? If so, you might run an organization that has a culture of toxicity, poor leadership, and unregulated emotional energy.
What can we do to collectively improve the emotional energy of people who work for you?
As a senior people leader, first, you must exude it yourself. So, perhaps, this is a personal question. What do YOU need to improve your emotional energy? What do YOU need to show up as your best self at work? The wrong answer depends on the actions of others. For example, “I need my boss to XYZ” or “I need the sales pipeline to be stronger.” The right answer depends on the actions that you can achieve. For example, “I need to stop blaming others” or “I need to stop procrastinating” or “I need to delegate this stressful task that I cannot handle.” Do these things and these things first, because your emotion – as a teambuilder – is contagious.
You must choose to design an environment whereby positive emotion can be experienced.
Ever wonder why companies take trips to baseball games or escape rooms or comedy clubs or, perhaps, why organizations host volunteer-based events outside of work? Truly it is not to get an eye roll from you. The purpose of these activities is to create an environment whereby a group of people can experience positive emotional energy together. Yet these activities need planning. If no one is tasked with planning experiences and instances whereby a group can gather and have a good time, or create a positive collective memory, then it is very unlikely to happen. As a people leader, you want people to remember the time they went bowling and XYZ happened and it was so funny, or remember the time they surprised XYZ with a gift basket when so-and-sos son was born, or remember the time they celebrated with a bell-ringing bonus and confetti cannons. If you are not an event-planning person, I encourage you to find someone or a group of people who are, and task them with this.
You must air out negative emotional energy.
Do you have an employee who is a gossip? Or one who always plays the victim card? Or a narcissistic emotional vampire? If so, you need to manage this behavior out of them or exit them from your organization. Do you have a tension point that is obviously upsetting people? If so, you need to create a pathway for people to vent, release, and to solve that tension. Emotional burden turns into stress. Stress turns into burnout. Burnout turns into retention issues. I think you can see where I am going here.
Emotional burden leads to stress, then burnout, then retention issues
Fourth you should constantly assess the condition of your company culture. At Lion Leadership we often host ‘employ engagement surveys’ to get our thumb on the pulse of company culture. If you do this regularly, you can spot downward trends and quickly enact a plan to self-correct before it is too late. By this point, you know that there are great brands out there. Brands whereby people are drawn to work because their culture is so strongly positive. No one wants to be on the other side of this.
Fifth you should get help. Building a culture that aligns with your values is not a skill any human is born with. It isn’t even a skill that is often taught in leadership development programs. Yet there are people, coaches, mentors, advisors, and human resources professionals, who can help you. Heck! Even if you just ask your employees to help find resources you are on the right track.
Ask for help and involve others. Then you are already building a culture of inclusivity and excitement! It is precisely that easy, yet precisely that challenging.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Attend this month’s webinar on “Building a Workplace Culture that People Love”
Join us May 25th @ 12:00-12:30 EST via Zoom
This webinar will be a 20min presentation by Dr. G, where you will learn:
1) What is workplace culture and how do you get a good one?
2) 4 easy ways to make a workplace culture great
3) The 3 immediate actions to take if your company culture is tanking
Lion Leadership is a company of coaches, consultants, speakers, and facilitators dedicated to Lion Leadership, an executive education company. We coach and train leadership teams and mid-level managers so that people don’t quit because of bad bosses. Whether you need 1-on-1 coaching for yourself, a custom leadership academy for your company, off-site retreats for your teams, or just a few hours of morale-building, we are here to get your organization ready for what’s next.
Natasha Ganem, Ph.D., is the founder and principal consultant.
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