Creating a Healthy Work Culture That Gets Results
“A good work culture and work environment is very crucial in helping your employees to put their best foot forward.”
- Pooja Agnihotri, 17 Reasons Why Businesses Fail: Unscrew Yourself From Business Failure
I love walking into an office with a new client and feeling a healthy work culture.
I can really feel it, just like I can feel a toxic culture.
What does a healthy work culture look and feel like?
To me, a healthy work culture looks and feels lighter. It’s more fun. People enjoy their work and most of the time, they may even look forward to working.
Employees feel valued for their unique gifts. They're able to get stuff done and feel good about it because they receive praise regularly either from their peers or management. They have time to breathe instead of feeling like a workhorse.
When I step into a client office with a healthy culture, I may even hear laughter! When people are having a good chuckle at work, I feel like that's the best sign. Studies show that laughter is proven to lower stress and lighten the load, mentally.
A group of researchers even found that after watching a comedy clip, employees were 10% more productive than their counterparts.
I worked with a gentleman recently and while we were working hard preparing difficult-to-deliver client news, he made an analogy and then started laughing. He's got this great, wonderful laugh that it so infectious. I’ve known him for years and I know he likes to laugh. Working with him is always enjoyable, even when we’re furiously working toward an intense deadline. We are always able to get the work done in a more productive way when we work together. Lately, we've been thousands of miles away on Zoom and that level of fun and productivity hasn't changed.
There's a lesson in that: Don’t take yourself and the work too seriously. You can have fun and get work done too!
But how does this work in today’s challenging work environment? Leaders all over the world are struggling to figure out how to balance work-from-home versus work-in-office while facing the greatest resignation movement in history. With so many struggles, healthy work culture is even more important.**
When staff is working from home, it adds a unique layer to the work environment. They are physically disconnected from the office and as a result, they may start to feel disconnected from their work and colleagues. When we go into the office, we have the opportunity to interact with each other. Passing conversations while walking down the hall or at the coffee machine may help us feel part of a community. Today, it’s much different. Most of us are now working in a 2-dimensional world in our homes with 1 person talking at a time through a machine. We're juggling back-to-back virtual meetings plus our workload, all in the confines of our homes. Many employees are struggling to feel connected to the work and with our colleagues, especially in environments where people routinely do not have their cameras on.
We have become Zoom Warriors.
While some of us enjoy working from home, countless others are feeling disconnected.
If you have staff working in the office, there are added stressors that we didn’t have in the past: social distancing, wearing a mask (or not!), sanitizing our hands/surfaces, being stuck in an elevator with too many people and so on.
This can cause a lot of anxiety for some people.
Do you agree that, more than ever, it is important to have a culture where people feel valued for the work they do?
So how do we bridge the gap and create a healthy workplace culture in this new world?
One of my favorite keynote speeches to give (whether virtually or in person) includes a list of simple tips that project managers and leaders at every level can implement immediately.
Here are two that are deceptively simple:
Mind your face. Have you ever worked with someone who looks like they’re sucking on a lemon all the time? Yea, same concept. Even if you’re on the phone, people can sense if you’re smiling or not. Mind what your face is doing and you'll be more approachable.
Be kind. It costs nothing to be kind. We don’t know what people are going through. A little kindness and the benefit of the doubt can make all the difference.
Notice how these tips have nothing to do with work output?
It is SO important to remember that workplace culture is all about the people. I say often, “it’s about people, people” and today it’s so true. Leaders everywhere NEED to get one thing right… it’s about making their people feel like you care about them, even if it has to be through 2 dimensions most of the time. Hopefully, you actually do care about them! Assuming you do, the idea is to figure out ways to help them feel it.
This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes by Maya Angelou, which I posted recently.
As leaders, people will gravitate towards us, or away from us, depending on how we make them feel. The best healthy work cultures I’ve experienced have had leaders who cultivated positivity, togetherness, and open communication.
Culture change can start with ONE person. Why not you? Lead by example!
What can you do today to help your colleagues feel valued?
What can you do more of or less of on a regular basis to create a healthy culture that gets results? (e.g., mind your face)
Listen to get even more ideas for what you can do to make a difference here:
At PMOtraining.com, we offer many courses that can bridge the gap. We have extensive Soft Skills workshops that can be tailored for your specific organization's needs. If you’re looking for more personalized and in-depth training for project leaders, consider one-on-one coaching, Leadership VIP day, the Project Leadership Mini-Course Series for Executives, or our Project Manager Roundtable. Contact us today or schedule a call. We are here to support your needs.
*For more, see the Harvard Business Review article on the Benefits of laughing in the office
Check out the full interview with Dawn and Margaret McCraw, MBA, LCSW-C, BCC, founder and owner of Behavioral Health & Leadership Dynamics, LLC, on YouTube. It originally aired on HealthyLife.net, which reaches over 135 countries. HealthyLife.net Radio Network, established in 2002, is one of the World's oldest 24/7 Internet 'All Positive Talk' radio networks.
About the Author: Dawn Mahan, PMP is an award-winning consultant, international speaker and coined the term “Projectland”. Her work preparing young professionals to work inside major corporations through YearUp has been featured in MarketWatch, Morningstar, Yahoo! Finance, and more. To book Dawn to speak inside your organization, Contact Ricardo Brett at firstname.lastname@example.org