The Most Common Pitfalls Managers Make With Work Culture
According to The New York Times, the one question you aren't asking about every new job prospect is How is the work culture? It’s easy to identify the responsibilities of a new gig and assess the salary, but getting a feel for a company's work culture—or an organization’s values, norms, and practices—is far more elusive. Yet the environment in which you work is what ultimately has a huge impact on employees’ happiness, loyalty, and success. Every company, no matter how big or small, can cultivate a strong, enjoyable culture by following a certain set of guidelines. Read on to learn how to implement the golden rules of work culture and boost the morale of your team.
Lunchtime, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, should be spent away from the computer screen. Sure, sometimes you need to power through to finish a task in time for a deadline. But a sad desk lunch should not be the norm if you want to boost company morale and show you value the human needs of your staff. Lead by example and take a little break outdoors for your midday meal, or encourage your team to congregate in the kitchen. If you ask your team members to stay extra late to finish a project, provide dinner or at least a dinner stipend. You should acknowledge the sacrifice of staying late. If one of your team members has an important personal commitment they can’t get out of and you can cover their workload, offer your help. This act of kindness will come around to serve you in the future.
Far more people can plan effectively than can execute effectively. You want to build a team of doers. Praise those who think outside of the box. Perhaps they don’t just mention a weekly trend forecast, they bring a fully executed trend report to the weekly meeting and suggest employing the technique going forward. You want curious minds producing quality work all of the time. Acknowledge strong execution, even if the idea or project pivots during the execution phase.
Workflow should never be mandated from the top down. Assignments certainly can be, but a strong team understands the best way to keep employees happy is to let the team figure out the best operational structure for workflow. Sometimes leaders don’t fully understand the process of executing each task. In order to create the most efficient workflow possible, encourage ongoing critique from your team members, and promote brainstorming sessions for how to improve your method. Your team members are more important than your customers or users. If they aren’t happy and don’t feel like their voices are being heard, your company won’t perform at its optimal level. Don’t just mandate a workflow; think of it as an ongoing process that you and your team are constantly trying to tweak to optimize results.
We love email and Gchat, but a great company culture cultivates face-to-face communication as well. Our rule of thumb is as follows: If your email thread extends beyond five exchanges, call a meeting. You can figure out the situation much more easily via verbal communication. Also, if you have a question for someone sitting two feet away from you, just ask them. You don’t need to type it into a chat box. Silence can mean deep work is in progress, but if your office is always 100% quiet and everyone communicates via their screens, your company becomes a less enticing place to work.
Practice what you preach. If you value open communication, make yourself available for office hours, and make sure every single person at your company knows your door is truly open. In meetings, encourage feedback from everyone, not just the managers. In order to prevent one team from feeling less important to the overall mission than another, maintain open lines of communication, and reach out if one group or one employee is noticeably quiet.
While you may give different departments in your company the autonomy to make informed decisions, they are not one-off teams whose actions have isolated repercussions. A company works best when each team owns their specialty but is also hyper-aware of the function of every other position in the company. If the sales team doesn’t understand the game plan of the technology team, promises can be made to clients that are impossible to uphold. If management doesn’t understand the time it takes for the editorial team to produce content or the analytics team to draw conclusions from a bank of data, then workflow gets unbalanced and expectations are not met. Always learn the demands, bottlenecks, and responsibilities of each team or team member in your company and encourage your employees to do the same. This will generate a culture of understanding and even a cross-pollination of ideas across departments.
If one person or the same few people are always making all of the decisions for a company, the outlook of that company is likely to become stale. Invigorate your company’s outlook and your team members’ autonomy by making teamwork one of your core company values. Empower individuals to make their own decisions. Giving people the authority to execute on their own terms is a powerful management tool. Preface this power, however, by ensuring that each of your employees understands that they are responsible for the results of their actions.
Kick your office vibes up a notch with a few of our favorite must-haves below.
Have you been a part of a company with an incredible culture? What made it great? Share with us in the comments.