How an employee feels about coming to work each day matters. Their relationships with colleagues and bosses, how appreciated they feel, how challenged, secure, respected, involved—all have an effect on the quality of the work those employees do. And the best managers know how to create a work environment where employees give their best and thrive.
Do the employees on your team want to be there each day?
Many of us have been in stifling work environments at some point. Maybe we don’t feel appreciated. Or the job is mind-numbingly monotonous. A volatile boss or a backstabbing co-worker has us keeping our heads down or constantly watching over our shoulders. Maybe we don’t feel like we’re part of the big picture … or maybe we don’t even know if there is a big picture.
When an organization’s environment is right, smart people want to do really great things and both employee and organization benefit.
What can you, as a manager, do to help ensure your work environment helps employees do their best? What factors are present in a truly positive work environment?
- Hire well. First, focus your hiring on tangible, verifiable accomplishments—competence. Ask challenging, creative questions in interviews to help you uncover the real person behind all that charm.
- Create opportunities for social connections. When employees are able to form solid, positive relationships with co-workers organizations win.
- Model the behavior you want to see in your team. Keep commitments, admit mistakes, keep a positive attitude, help when you can, accept feedback gracefully, be appreciative, kind, etc.
- Build trust and solid relationships through consistent one-on-one communication and empathy. Get to know your employees. Encourage them to talk to you. Feedback and coaching works best when coming from a trusted person. Also remember that employees like to know what’s going on within their organization. Be honest and positive.
- Show appreciation for results and behavior. Saying “thank you” and acknowledging effort helps employees feel valued.
- Make sure employees understand goals and expectations and that their workload is manageable. When employees know what’s expected, they can set priorities and focus on what’s important. Knowing what’s on each worker’s plate makes you more aware of potential time conflicts.
- Discipline for the wrong behavior. When an employee knows what’s expected and isn’t hitting the mark, respond privately in a timely way. You’re not doing anyone any favors by waiting. And the rest of the team will get frustrated if subpar behavior seems to go unnoticed.
- Use constructive feedback and coaching. Show your interest in your team by noticing both what they’re doing right and wrong, helping them to grow and be successful.
- Don’t ignore feedback from others of unprofessional conduct. If a team member comes to you with information about a colleague’s questionable work, investigate and follow up.
- Listen to all ideas and respond. Trying new approaches helps workers become more invested in their work—more innovative.
- Trust employees and give them flexibility and autonomy where possible. When people feel powerful, they are happier and more satisfied, suggests psychological research published in Psychological Science. Giving employees the freedom to make decisions, plan meetings or communicate with the team helps them feel empowered. Micromanaging kills engagement and creativity.
- Remove fear and blame. Mistakes happen when people move outside comfort zones and try new things. If they are concerned about being judged harshly for trying something new, they’ll become afraid to innovate, suggests forbes.com.
- Stand up for your employees. Employees want to know that you’ve got their back. You’re responsible for each individual’s work performance and development. Make sure it’s high caliber and something you can stand up for.
- Have a little fun. Take a break from being serious. This is a natural outcome when teams are already working well together.
Managers have the ability to create a work environment that employees are happy to be part of. And when employees enjoy coming to work, it shows in their productivity and results.