How to create a positive work culture

Do you know how to create a positive work culture?

 Photo by:  Ian Sane

Photo by: Ian Sane

In my last post I showed you why it’s important to create a positive culture. Today I’m sharing what you can do to encourage and sustain a positive culture. For years the subject of corporate culture was ignored, or at least downplayed, by management and experts alike. However, in recent years most observers acknowledge that corporate culture (or organizational behavior) plays an important role in the workplace.

Setting the standard for a positive culture should be a major focus for leaders in any organization. Here are a few strategies for creating and maintaining a positive work culture. They are based on common threads running throughout published research, scholarly articles, and my own experience in organizations.

Communication

Encourage a culture of open communication. While leaders today are more aware of the importance of communication, knowing what and how to communicate tends to be less clear. Both the style and content of communication has a strong impact on a company’s culture. When timely and clear it can help nip problems before they grow. It also keeps important aspects of the organizational culture at the forefront of employees’ minds.

Establish an environment that supports and nurtures two-way and up-and-down communication and you will be a winner. It’s important that employees can see and understand “the big picture.”

Positive reinforcement should also be a part of your daily communication. Let your employees know they are appreciated. Too often this is overlooked. Establish reward systems for excellent performance and never forget to thank an employee for a job well done.

Proactive communication strategies are being more highly correlated with a positive corporate culture than any other practice. It also has impact on market performance.

A culture of open communication also includes the opportunity to address issues and concerns, as well as promote open dialogue to work through difficult issues. This will also help promote creative solutions.

Better communication seem to be one clear strategy for creating a more unified and positive corporate culture.

Empowerment

When employees have a voice in creating a shared vision, the freedom to create, and are not micromanaged, they will feel a sense of pride and ownership in their work. This will result in higher levels of morale, self-motivation, and a positive culture.

Furthermore employees will be able to assume more responsibility and/or authority for decision making and free leaders from having to worry about detailed day-to-day operations.

Strategic Initiatives

Although setting the strategic direction of the organization is mostly reserved for top management, employees appreciate when management makes an effort to enlist their thoughts regarding specific strategic changes and plans. This breads support.

Your strategic direction has to include the hiring process. Look for positive attitudes while hiring. Negative people can quickly sour an entire workplace. Look for a friendly smile and an upbeat disposition.

If you already have negative employees on staff, take them aside to discuss their attitudes and make it clear that you are creating a positive work culture and negativity will not be tolerated.

A positive culture is just talk unless it’s tied to best practices. It has to tie strategic plans to employee behavior, rewards, and recognition. A flexible work schedule, and engaging people in what they do best, should be part of the strategic plan. When performance planning and evaluations have a positive focus, it also helps the overall environment.

Leadership

Your role as a leader in making a positive culture is vital. A positive culture spreads from the top down. It is important for senior management to communicate well and be invested in supporting and encouraging a positive culture. Yet, leadership skills and responsibilities must also permeate down throughout the organization.

Establish an open-door policy and encourage interaction. Be honest and open. Ask people's opinions, listen to what they have to say.

Values

The importance of ethics and codes of conduct which are clearly identified and communicated, as well as exemplified by the leaders’ behaviors, is one of the biggest elements in a positive culture. It can’t be overemphasized that leaders need to “walk their talk.” This includes zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.

A strong positive culture is a result of clarity in terms of what an organization values as well as clarity in terms of how those values are communicated. Having a detailed code of conduct and ethics reporting system that holds people accountable for all their actions can encourage people to strive for success. Positively reinforcing the company values throughout the organization will send a strong positive message.

Remember. . .

A positive workplace culture leads to increased productivity, better employee morale and the ability to keep skilled workers. Negative attitudes in the workplace, particularly when they are displayed by the leadership, can have a dramatic impact on the entire organization. Taking the steps to ensure that a positive culture is alive in the workplace will go a long way towards keeping your organization running smoothly and keeping an engaged positive workforce.

Want to learn more about how to create a positive culture in yourself and your business? An individually tailored Executive Coaching program could be very helpful. To find out more,  click here.