Help your staff achieve positive attitude, work habits
It's certainly a strange sensation but believe me, it is real.
When we experience this sensation, we are essentially experiencing the personality or culture of an organization. Organizational culture is the sum of all of the attitudes, beliefs and norms held by people in the organization. This sense of personality and/or culture has far-reaching implications. It manifests itself in how work is done, how people meet and greet each other, whether they work as a team and/or whether they are smiling. Organization culture also affects the physical being of an organization right from how walls are decorated to the selection of furniture and who parks their car in the spots closest to the building.
Organization culture also affects the pace of work. For instance, small, entrepreneurial organizations are typically fast paced, often not well organized and the owner and employees are known to fly by the seat of their pants, so to speak. Other organizations, particularly larger ones, are more structured in everything they do. An organization with a large complement of technical professionals may be more concerned about detail, policy and procedure and hierarchy. But no matter what, each organization attracts people with personalities that are similar to their culture. Those individuals whose personalities don't match will feel uncomfortable and soon move on.
As a result, organization culture tends to play an important role in whether employees experience a sense of job satisfaction. In fact, a recent study showed that 66 per cent of survey respondents reported that organization culture was very important to their job satisfaction. As well, these survey participants also saw organization culture as being very important to the overall success of their organization. Culture was also seen as very important to morale and productivity.
But what does a positive organization culture look like?
A strong, positive organization culture consists of employees and management who exhibit a can-do attitude. You'd see trusting relationships as well as strong leaders throughout the organization who model the desired organization culture. You would find that communication is more open, ideas and innovation are encouraged and welcomed and employees will be treated with great respect. If you stood at the doorway or walked through the offices, you could actually feel a strong sense of positive energy throughout the whole organization. People feel valued and nurtured.
But the question is; how do you get there? How do you go about creating and maintaining a strong positive organizational culture? Keeping in mind that organizational change takes time, following some of the strategies identified below will help you to start building a vibrant organization culture.
Assess your organization -- Start by conducting an employee satisfaction survey. There are several online instruments available in the marketplace that will help you to identify where employees see areas of strengths and challenge in your organization. Set priorities for improvement, develop a strategy and be sure to communicate your goals and objectives.
Engage your employees -- Although it takes much more time, it is critical that your employees are involved in creating improvements in their workplace. Involvement creates a sense of ownership that will help to ensure that positive change becomes lasting. Involvement means building employee commitment toward your vision. At the same time, employee involvement will undoubtedly help you to identify potential leaders who can be coached and mentored into higher level leadership roles. In fact, these unique and talented employees can often become your culture champions.
Adapt an empowerment leadership style -- One of the key job satisfiers for employees is having a sense of control over their work. Look for opportunities to design or redesign your jobs so that an employee does a whole job from beginning to end. Employees want to see the results of their work and to feel accomplishment and achievement. Give people responsibility and hold them accountable.
Apply positive reinforcement -- Establishing reward and recognition programs works well in driving a positive work environment, but you also need to do the little things such as a simple thank you or a pat on the back. These easy reward gestures can go such a long way to making employees feel valued. Then, when an opportunity arises, celebrate success and reinforce the positive behaviours that help to create a more collaborative workplace.
Apply training and development -- Creating a continuous learning environment is important so that employees are encouraged to learn and grow, and try out different tasks or jobs. Employees also must learn how to manage change from a personal perspective so that continuous improvement becomes the name of the game.
Create flexibility -- Another positive workplace cultural attribute is the ability for employees to have some sort of flexibility. This is applied through such things as being able to choose a different start time or coffee break time. Most organizations, for instance, also offer the ability for employees to choose different benefits to more suit the personal needs.
Deal with issues -- No workplace is perfect, but a positive sense of energy will arise when employees see that issues brought to management's attention are dealt with in a forthright manner. At the same time, training employees on problem-solving strategies leads to more empowerment and more employee synergy. Finally, attack and destroy negativity in the workplace as quickly as you can; negativity can spread too easily and can disrupt any progress you've made.
Communicate, communicate -- Employees want to know what is going on in their organization. Help them understand the big picture. Hold regular staff meetings, hold special meetings, send out informational emails -- do everything you can to stay connected with your employees.
Align all HR services -- A positive organization culture won't happen in a vacuum. You need to ensure that all of your human resource practices are aligned and support the development and maintenance of your organization culture. This includes employee development, performance management, employee relations, compensation and rewards and recognition.
A positive culture is one of the most significant reasons why potential employees are attracted to your organization and a key reason why employees will stay. Yet creating and maintaining a positive corporate culture is not easy to achieve. It requires planning, employee involvement, and most of all, persistence.
About the author
Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly BowesKnows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.barbarabowes.com
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