HIGHER THINKING BLOG
Improve Your Work Culture By Dr. Paul White
Three Ways to Improve Your Work Culture
Workplace culture has become an increasing focus in the past year (especially its negative aspects) – and rightfully so. The “culture” of our workplace has a huge impact on our daily experiences and how much we enjoy (or don’t) our work. This issue is an important one to understand in career development – what you do (accounting, customer service, dental assistant) is only a portion of the factors that affect job satisfaction. The setting in which you work is equally influential.
What makes up one’s workplace culture? A variety of characteristics including: communication style, degree of formality in relating to others, how decisions are made and communicated, how (or whether) conflict is handled. Are the staff interactions more negative and critical, or supportive and encouraging? What is celebrated? Is the organization rigidly hierarchical or loose with little formal structure? Do people work primarily by themselves or is a lot of work done collaboratively? How do people lead others or tasks? What does the physical environment look like? What sayings are used to summarize how tasks are to be done?
When confronted with all the different aspects of culture and thinking of how you might help change your culture, feeling overwhelmed and relatively powerless is common. Culture, however, is created by individuals and individual behaviors. So each of us does have the ability to begin to influence the culture in which we work. Here are three easy steps to start with:
Avoid the Negative
Avoid contributing to the negative. There is plenty of negativity to go around in most workplaces, with lots of opportunities to join in. Don’t. Stay quiet versus adding your caustic comment. Don’t join in the gossip. Restrain the urge to be critical of others. Negativity requires fuel to keep going (and grow). Don’t do anything that can add fuel to its destructive fire.
Point to Positive
Point others to the positive. Given the propensity to slide into negative thinking and communication, filling interactions with positive comments is critical.
You don’t have to be Pollyannaish (“This is the best day ever!”) and you want to be reality-based (not trying to convince others your workplace is wonderful when it isn’t). An easy way to start is to focus on non-work-related aspects of your day (“I’m sure thankful I don’t have to work outside in this cold.”) If possible, call attention to positive work done by a colleague.
Use Visual Reminders
Incorporate visual reminders. What we see influences us. I love nature, so I have photos of different aspects of the beauty of nature in our office, and I’ve been given lovely artwork by friends I also display. And any colorful, visual tools that can remind you and your co-workers about communicating appreciation to each other contributes to creating positivity.
Will these steps turn your workplace culture into a positive, happy place? Probably not. But as I often say: Start somewhere with someone. Do something. Otherwise, you are going nowhere.
Questions for Considerations
- What characteristics define your workplace’s culture?
- In what ways do you contribute to the positive or negative aspects of that culture?
- What is something you can do this week to make your workplace more positive?
Dr. Paul White is a Christian psychologist, speaker, consultant and coauthor of The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman (author of the #1 NY Times’ bestseller, The Five Love Languages), released in 2011.
Integrating Organizational Values & Culture
- Discuss and discern the relationship between values and culture
- Explore methods for embedding values in culture and encouraging “values in action”
- Recognize leadership’s role in nourishing values and stimulating corporate culture.
Strategies for a Winning Culture
- Accept that culture is king
- Utilize strategies that will convert your executive team to a culture-focused and outcome-based powerhouse that influences the entire organization
- Implement practical objectives that will bring the organization into alignment
What is Christian Leadership Alliance?
Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.