Jeremy Goldman is the founder and CEO of Firebrand Group, which counts Consumer Reports, L’Oréal, and Unilever among its clientele. He is the author of Going Social: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand With the Power of Social Media, the 2013 award winner that teaches brands large and small how to use social media for business success.
Goldman has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Mashable, The Next Web, SmartMoney, Workforce.com, ReadWriteWeb, The Star-Ledger, ClickZ, and InformationWeek.
A lifelong entrepreneur shares his secrets to building a more productive work environment.
Cultivating a happy and healthy work environment is vital to the success of any business–and even more important is developing a sense of community. With the dawn of a new year, it’s a terrific opportunity to look at your corporate culture and see where you might be able to improve it.
Here are six ways to develop and maintain a more positive corporate culture.
1. Establish Trust
A sense of trust is vital to all personal and professional relationships. The best way to build trust is through active listening and open communication. If you are willing to let your guard down and demonstrate that you can truly listen, chances are that others will reciprocate.
“When it comes to establishing positive relationships with your coworkers, the most important thing is to get to know them first as individuals,” says Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You. “No one likes to be treated ‘instrumentally’–as someone whose only value is in what they can do for you. Instead, ask and learn about their hobbies, families, and backgrounds.” Take the New Year as an opportunity to create deeper, more productive relationships with your work team.
2. Foster Mutual Respect
It’s important that you respect your colleagues’ input and ideas and that they respect yours. When you lose respect for your marketing director, you’ll be less likely to go to her for help, even when it’s an area in which she excels. Furthermore, she’ll be less likely to come to you when she would benefit from your expertise. As a result, less collaboration occurs, and departments become siloed.
When employees feel like you’re respectful and supportive, and that their efforts won’t be undermined by others’ jealousy or fragile egos, their interactions tend to be positive and to create a virtuous, more productive cycle.
3. Take Responsibility for Your Actions
In a work dispute, do you often feel that you’re 100 percent correct, and that the other party is 100 percent wrong? If so, it might be time to take a closer look at how you operate professionally. After all, it’s pretty difficult for one party to be entirely at fault. Even if you’re only mildly at fault and think the other person should shoulder most of the responsibility, admitting that you’re imperfect and could be partially to blame can help the other individual(s) be less defensive.
Rather than pointing a finger at a co-worker, acknowledge your part and then communicate your message in a clear, nonjudgmental way.
4. Show Appreciation
What do your boss, colleagues, and office janitor have in common? All of them want to feel appreciated. So, when someone does something well, offer a genuine compliment to show your gratitude. This not only leads to stronger relationships, but also encourages everyone to continue working productively. People are wired to respond to incentives. While financial rewards are a well-known incentive, appreciation is a rather underrated one.
5. Stomp Out Bullying
Speaking personally: I left one job because of an awful bully. Since then, I’ve had pretty consistent success in my career, which has included working for my former employer’s direct competitors. Meanwhile, my former employer went through multiple hires trying to replace me. Add up all those hiring and training costs, and you can quickly see how bullying costs companies real money. It leads to high turnover, decreased innovation–with the bully focused on bullying and the one being bullied afraid to be vocal in the organisation–and a harder time hiring highly-qualified professionals, as word gets out about your firm’s toxic culture.
Make it a point to not only avoid bullying at all costs, but call out bullying by others as unacceptable.
6. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Nobody wants to be around a Debbie Downer. Regardless of what’s going on in your personal life, it’s important to at least to try to leave it behind when you step into the office. You don’t want people to misinterpret any bad vibes you bring in from the outside, or have your co-workers think your scowl is directed at them. If you walk into the office with a happy greeting in the morning, that upbeat energy will naturally spread to those around you and create a more enjoyable work atmosphere. Try to high five someone today for a job well done; it’s contagious.