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Tuesday, 11 March 2014 00:00

Whistle While You Work - or How a Positive Culture Means a Positive Bottom Line

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We've all been there:  You work really hard on a project, sometimes over a period of months, and finally it's completed.  You've done it on time, on budget, and it's delivered results in excess of what everyone had hoped.  You think you're in line for public recognition, if not a nomination for Employee of the Year.  But instead, your boss just says "That's done?  Good.  It's been sucking up too much of your time and I have this other thing I need you to work on."

positive culture in the workplace

Image from Marc Johns.

People who favor this management style will tell you that it's not a good idea to let employees think too highly of their accomplishments or rest on their laurels because it will result in a low-performing culture where everyone feels like they should be rewarded just for showing up in the morning.  However, the truth is that organizations which never stop to savour success and acknowledge accomplishments are creating a culture of 'never-good-enough' negativity that eventually stymies the ability to innovate and change.

Look under the hood of any successful innovative or creative organization and you'll find a positive culture that takes the time to acknowledge - and celebrate - success.  It doesn't have to be complicated or even cost a lot of money - creating a positive culture is really just about injecting some gratitude into day-to-day activities:  "Thanks for doing such a great job - I appreciate it."

Why is this important for change management?  Because when you create a negative culture of neglecting to acknowledge or celebrate success, it becomes harder and harder for employees to drag themselves to the next project.  When they know that no amount of extra effort is going to win them recognition or appreciation, their motivation to become engaged in a project diminishes.  Change cycles become longer, resistance becomes more entrenched, and eventually the organization becomes bogged down in its own negativity, unwilling and unable to move forward.

What's more, a negative culture becomes precarious:  In a positive environment, delivering bad news doesn't derail existing progress, and resilient employees are more easily motivated to action.  In a negative environment, bad news or additional business challenges become just another depressing headache that further demoralizes employees and gives them another reason not to make an effort.

What can you do as a leader?  Positive cultures don't just happen - they're created.  Here's how:

1.  Remember that taking time to acknowledge and celebrate success will energize employees for the next project - not make them rest on their laurels.

2.  Successful leaders cultivate a sense of gratitude for the people around them, and express that gratitude on a daily basis

3.  You can set an example by having a positive attitude around the office.  That doesn't mean pretending there aren't challenges to be met and work to be done - it just means taking a positive, resilient approach to those challenges.

4.  Employees just finished a big (successful) project and want to have a Friday lunch celebration?  Don't rain on their parade by making a fuss about a 2-hour lunch - join them!

 

BONUS TIP:  Positive workplaces have less turnover, which is another way they create healthier bottom lines!

 

Read 4911 times Last modified on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 16:39

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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