One of the primary indicators of success within your workplace is the culture. It can affect your employee engagement, productivity, profit levels, and more. How can you be sure that your culture is positive? What happens when the leaders at the top become disillusioned about the workplace environment and think it is better than it actually is?
What is a healthy work culture?
Work culture is the attitudes, expectations, beliefs, and priorities that permeate through everything the company does. There is evidence in the type of people who are hired, the standards of behavior within the office, the way employees interact with the public are all evidence of the culture the company possesses. A healthy workplace culture is almost immediately apparent. There is a different feeling in the air that is almost palpable, and everyone in the workplace seems to be focused and motivated.
An unhealthy workplace, in contrast, feels strained. Employees are disengaged and it can sour the entire atmosphere. How can managers be blind to the reality of their workplace? Is it possible to think that things are great when nothing could be farther from the truth? Absolutely.
How do leaders become delusional?
Lack of interaction. One of the primary ways leaders become delusional about the reality of their workplace is by being out of touch. Instead of seeking out opportunities to engage with employees, leaders and managers who keep to themselves are more likely to be uninformed about what is happening within the confines of their business.
Failure to listen. Some leaders inadvertently set themselves up for failure by dismissing concerns employees may have as ‘unimportant’. Others create a nebulous list of things to be dealt with that never make it on the priority list. By failing to listen to what is happening, it is easy to create the mindset that there aren’t any problems in the organization. Employers who practice an ‘open door’ policy and who listen to what employees are saying will be more in tune with what is going on in the culture of the workplace.
Lack of follow-up. When problems arise within an organization, leaders may take corrective steps. However, if they fail to do the follow-up, they have no way of knowing if the solution was effective or not. They may convince themselves that they ‘fixed the problem’ and think everything is fine, when in fact it could be worse.
Culture is about the people within the organization. It’s the way they engage with their coworkers and customers, the drive they have for the corporate mission, and how they see themselves within the organization. It can make or break a business and is one of the critical components that a business leader must concern themselves. Unfortunately, it is also one of the easiest things to ignore and can get out of control quickly. To ensure that you are getting a clear picture of what the authentic culture of your organization may be, spend time in the employee break room. Take employees to lunch, hold town hall meetings, create a specialized email for employee suggestions. Don’t assume that your culture is great - take steps to make sure it is.
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea®. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.