Seven Ways to Create a More Positive Work Climate
Leaders are chief engineers of climate in an organisation. And climate affects morale, engagement, emotions and of course, work performance. Here are some tips to create a positive work climate.
And remember, you don’t need a formal title to be a leader. You are a leader when you are an example for positive behaviours that serve the greater good.
What went well? (WWW)
You can start with a check-in that allows people to quickly share a highlight from their work/personal life. In bigger group, this could be done in pairs. This helps people enjoy connecting in a meaningful way, and learn something new about their colleagues. Alternatively, a periodic meeting could be convened to discuss what’s gone well for the team in that week/fortnight/month.
One client said to me after trying this out: “We started using a space at start of our weekly brief to just appreciate the “human” side of us eg: appreciation of our strength and who we are. This has shown change over the two weeks…more laughter, less tense…” Caution: If people are overloaded with unnecessary meetings, this may not be appreciated. Being mindful of running meetings that are necessary, efficient and productive is important.
Debrief for strengths and learnings
Instead only debriefing about mistakes or room for improvement in a project, celebrate all the efforts, what worked well, strengths people used, lessons people learned and growth attained. And avoid calling them “post-mortems!”
Heard the saying, “The family that eats together stays together”? That’s true for teams too. While not necessary to eat with your team every day, team lunches allow people to connect in a more relaxed setting – provided you’re not discussing work! Enable colleagues to get to know each other at a human level by talking about things that nourish people. If you do talk about work, share positive gossip about people who did great things at work. Be curious but not intrusive. Be interested in people’s lives, hobbies, passions, and what you sense they feel comfortable to share. Learn from what you find inspiring.
It's natural to ventilate about challenges you face but stay mindful that the lunch doesn't become a complaint-fiesta. Help people leave the lunch emotionally nourished and uplifted rather than drained. Perhaps you can have fun with conversation cards like "smol tok" which provide questions. (Available from starknicked.com) Choose cards that are appropriate for your setting.
One study showed that going out to eat helps more than eating at the work canteen so aim for this periodically with your team.
Give people more positive than constructive feedback
How do you feel when someone constantly tells you what you need to fix? And how do you feel when someone points out what you’ve done well? If someone asks for feedback, take time to point out what works well in the piece of work, instead of only pointing out all the areas of improvement. Then people can continue building on what they do well and feel more uplifted.
Enjoy “Micro-Moments” of Uplifting Connection
A “micro-moment” of connection may be a short and seemingly inconsequential interaction. Dr Barbara Fredrickson, who runs a laboratory on positive emotions at the University of North Carolina, encourages us to pay attention the power of these.
Have eye contact and smile, even when you pass by someone in the corridor. Dr Fredrickson says “eye contact may be the most potent trigger for connection and oneness” and that a smile “more so than any other emotional expression, pops out and draws our eye”. So if you want to see a real improvement in the emotional climate in the office, emphasise the importance of physical presence. It beats electronic communication big time when it comes to building positive relationships. And encourage kindness and appreciation in the office.
Role-model putting away the phone (without you feeling it buzzing) when you are talking with someone and encourage this throughout the office. Walk over to someone’s cubicle and have a conversation instead of sending ten emails to work something out. Or pick up the phone if that’s not possible.
Leave a Positive Imprint with e-Communications
When you do need to use electronic means to communicate, always remember that you leave a positive, negative or neutral imprint emotionally. Because you’re in front of a screen instead of a face, you may forget this.
If you want to build up positive emotions, be intentional about that in your communication. For example, one genuinely-felt smile emoticon or remark of kindness or appreciation in an email/text message can instantly transform it from neutral to positive.
Just as you do a “spell-check”, do an “emotions-check” before you press “send”! ☺
Stop Behaviours that Create Negative Work Climate
While all the above can do wonders, it is also important to be clear and firm about about stopping behaviours that lead to negative work climate. Putting down people, verbal abuse, constant criticism, integrity breaches and the like can seriously affect people adversely. People can become demoralized and disengaged and you can forget about synergy, collaboration and excellence. Correct unwanted behaviours. Then people will know how committed you are to creating a climate that is positive and life-giving, and conducive to great work being done.
Share this with your team. What would you all like to start practising?