There’s so much information and advice surrounding the development of healthy workplace culture and environment… and even more conversation pointing out the consequences of not doing so. Before I proceed, I think it only fair to define my position; especially since there may be some among us who consider the golden arches version of the potato to be “a healthy vegetable” and carbonated water from a can, “a hydration miracle”. As you’ve probably guessed, I am a fan of single ingredient foods and I find it difficult to tolerate substitutes. What does this have to do with workplace culture and environment? Everything. The additives we introduce into our professional cultures (insecurities, selfishness, greed, intolerance, disrespect, etc.) contaminate the free flow of ideas, subvert authenticity and stifle creativity. This clutter will overshadow and ultimately destroy the transparency that a healthy environment requires to nurture and ensure the health of teams; causing them to thrive and produce.
Health in the workplace is indicative of the culture – which makes up the environment and a fundamental ingredient in creating a healthy environment is TRUST.
Without a basic level of trust, there is no hope of creating a culture that sustains a healthy environment.
Trust is vital to a healthy environment/culture, but establishing it is anything but easy. In general, trust is developed over time and is accompanied by consistency in transparency, integrity and fairness. Conversely, trust can also be destroyed by one event or circumstance. To be trustworthy is not an indication of perfection, nor does it mean that others will always agree. In fact, trustworthiness is measured most accurately in our response to our own mistakes, as they affect those around us. In my opinion, the most accurate display of trustworthiness is to be consistent in character and action. This shows that even when mistakes are made, proven character exemplifies true intent.
Leading Edge: The first step to building trust within your organization is to step out onto your bubble (your platform – your sphere of influence) and experience the worlds of the bubble creators. This action may create vulnerability – but it can also be considered a sign of security and stability. Each team has a bubble of its own.
[Ideally, your strategic planning team members will represent each sphere, but it will be important that they are also able to step outside of their bubbles to help create new ones or to enhance the organizational ecosystem.]
As a leader, step outside of your world and into theirs. See what they see. Hear what they hear; listening to what they say and why they’re saying it. Take note of their successes, their failures and fears; their concerns and ideas… for a better product, a higher quality service, a more collaborative working environment and relevant work culture. Getting to know them in this way will increase your understanding of why they have chosen your organization and why they have chosen to support you. Giving your teams substantive reasons to support your leadership (supporting what you do) rather than expecting them to fall in line simply because of the role you occupy (supporting who you are) shows respect, which will go a long way in revealing your trustworthiness.
If you are new to your leadership role, this is a perfect time to begin to build trust. If you are a seasoned leader – start where you are. Commit to the process of growth and personal development by allowing your team access.
Be present and genuinely interested – not just for the sake of the bottom line, but for organizational health and well-being. Show them, not only that they matter; but that they matter to you. Make it happen.
Here’s to… healthy cultures, thriving environments, continued success… and more bubbles on which to stand!