Many organizations emphasize the business side over the people side and as a result have an out-of-balance workplace. This is understandable; “If I didn’t pay attention to the finances I’d be out of business”.
While this is true, ignoring the people or human side usually leads to poor employee attitudes, low morale, and resulting low productivity and poor financial performance. An unbalanced workplace does not fully tap the largest resource in every company, its people.
In contrast, a balanced work culture allows people to satisfy their desire to be engaged and productive around the job. For example, most people want to be recognized by their team for their contributions, they want to be appreciated and know they are a valued member, they want to go home feeling they had a worthwhile productive day, and want to feel enthusiastic about returning the next day.
When people can satisfy these and other basic human needs on the job, they naturally bring more of themselves to their task, i.e., they will engage — taking responsibility not just for their own work but for the success of the company. When people feel this strong connection and the certainty that others across the company feel the same, the workplace culture rises to a level of performance otherwise impossible to achieve.
At the human level a good company culture has; high morale, motivation, responsibility, trust, creativity, responsiveness, flexibility and productivity.
To Learn People’s Desires, Ask!
When you ask people in any company, “What would you like more of in the workplace?” they usually say something like:
- More involvement in decisions that affect me.
- A feeling of safety — more openness and trust.
- Better communication and more information.
- Better teamwork and more cooperation.
- More focus on getting work done and less on politics.
- Clearer tasks, responsibilities, and boundaries, so I can be personally responsible for my work.
- Looking forward to coming to work.
To Build a Good Culture, Move in That Direction
By definition, developing a good work culture means moving in the direction people want. While this sounds simple, it is hard to do.
To start developing the work culture, leaders can make small changes in how they do what they do every day, changes that show that they understand and encourage the values people want. For example leaders and managers might involve people in decisions that affect them, communicate more, make team decisions, and give people more information and responsibility.
What is a “Bad” Culture?
By definition, a “bad” work culture is the opposite of a balanced workplace. It is one where people cannot fulfill their desires around the task. These poorly developed work cultures are usually led by managers who keep tight control over information and decisions, perhaps because they’re unsure of what will happen if they open up the workplace. Fortunately when managers learn to pass control to others they find that by sharing control, they actually have much more of it and greater profits.
In a good work culture, everybody wins.
cc 112 — © Barry Phegan, Ph.D.