Why should leaders care about office culture? As Entrepreneur's Drew McLellan explains, a strong office culture leads to happy employees, increased profits, and personal satisfaction. Those are all good things! Running a toxic workplace means you're bound to run into all sorts of not-good things such as low productivity, employee turnover, and a poor community reputation. One perk of being a leader is the power you have to steer your ship in ways others can't. Here are four tips recommended by McLellan to help you shape a positive office culture:
1. Set the Tone: Think of yourself as a theatre director. Your employees, despite being suitable actors in their own right, lack the necessary cohesion to be considered a troupe. It's your responsibility as their leader to get them all on the same page. It's also your responsibility to make sure the culture of your company (i.e. the tone of the play) reflects your vision.
2. Give Clear Direction: Your ideas may be genius when repeated in your mind but they're bupkis if you can't effectively communicate them. Once you decide what you want the company/production to look like, take just as much time to decide how you're going to convey that vision to your employees/actors.
3. Reward Good Work: Reinforce your organization's values by rewarding those who exemplify them. To digress from the theatre metaphor, we'll just use McLellan's example:
"If you have a value that says you serve your community, recognize employees who are serving on nonprofit boards or using their lunch hour to volunteer."
4. Don't Divert: If you tell your actors on the first day of rehearsal that they'll be doing straight Shakespeare, you'll face a revolt if three weeks in you suddenly decide to make it all steampunk. Likewise, if you exhibit behavior or run the organization in ways contrary to professed values, that hypocrisy is going to rub employees the wrong way. Don't purchase a gas guzzling SUV as company car if you promote environmentalism in your mission statement. Don't institute tight budget policies and then dig into company coffer's to fund your pumpkin spice latte addiction. It seems like common sense but even the slightest slips can tank organizational morale.
Just as the faults of a poor director become glaring when watching a lousy play, a poor workplace culture reeks of inadequate leadership. Make office culture a priority and you'll reap the benefits (and maybe even get an encore).
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