Imagine dedicating 40+ hours every week providing a (specialist) service in an organisation that treats you like a cog in their commercial machine. Would you trudge resolutely onwards for several years unaffected by your working environment or would you begin to feel the effect that disconnect and being unvalued brings?
According to Occupational Care South Africa, an average of 15 – 30% of staff are absent on any day of the week, and two out of three employees who fail to show up for work, are not physically ill. Absenteeism costs the South African economy approximately R12 to R16 billion every year. With two out of three team members choosing absenteeism for non-related physical illnesses, one gets a sobering insight into how vital workplace fulfilment truly is. The good news is that with information comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes the power to transform any dilemma into a success story.
The recipe for great company culture requires generous helpings of two components: team members who trust their leaders and who have a deep sense of pride in their work.
Lead with Great Workplace Philosophy
Essentially, a business is an organisation where goods or services are exchanged for financial gain. Alternatively, an organisation is also a concept realised by the daily contributions made by its people. Marrying the two definitions is a balancing act achieved through an effective culture of pride and trust that permeates every aspect and division of the organisation.
No matter what service or product you provide, and regardless of the scale, your company represents the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people. It has its own belief system (i.e. its values statement) and its way of being in the world on a micro and macro level (i.e. its mission statement), which together forms the organisation’s philosophy.
In an organisation, having a sense of pride in what you do, a feeling of deep satisfaction garnered from your own efforts and that of your colleagues, often leads to that elusive sweet spot: workplace fulfilment. What firmly entrenches the sentiment, “I love what I do”, is the trust you have in your organisation’s leadership. This intrinsic knowing does not require physical justification or examination because historically, your leaders and your co-workers have honoured their word through persistent action. You buy into the brand promise of the organisation and make an emotional connection, meaning that you come to work with not just your hands and your head, but that your heart is invested too. That is how we define a Brand Ambassador: An individual who has an intimate knowledge of the organisational purpose, products and services and fulfils his/her role in the organisation with passion and pride. Brand Ambassadors are active participants and smarter decision makers who live the behaviours that organisations require for long-term success.
How leaders choose to respond to issues arising within their organisation is indicative of their company culture. Is it an environment that encourages transparency through all-hand meetings, sharing both triumphant and challenging news? Or is it an environment that withholds important information from its people, leaving them blindsided in particularly difficult times?
These five tools will help to build a culture of pride and trust in any organisation:
1. Listen to Your People
Communication is the cornerstone to human interaction and relationships. Establish an atmosphere that allows team members to feel comfortable voicing their opinions, concerns and ideas. Encourage and collect feedback, whether through in-house surveys, one-on-one meetings or an anonymous suggestion box that team members can populate.
2. Be Transparent
Gaining someone’s trust requires a level of vulnerability that few will achieve. Yet it is vital for a leader to be open and honest about the nature of their organisation. Sharing its wins and losses will do one of two things: reveal those individuals who are committed to the vision of the organisation and weed out those who lack faith in its ability to overcome any setback. If a leader embodies integrity, it is more likely that their team members will as well, and they in turn could become leaders themselves.
3. Show that You Care
A team member who feels respected and heard will nine times out of ten reciprocate those values. Following through on feedback and suggestions, even if it’s to relay why their suggestion will not be suitable for the organisation, can nonetheless result in a positive outcome. Taking the time to engage with a team member or colleague demonstrates that you value their input.
4. Champion Empowerment
The 18th century German poet, novelist, playwright and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being”. An organisation with great company culture allows its team members, regardless of their positions, opportunities to gain insight into diverse aspects of the business and the platform to participate in important decisions.
5. Social Accountability
Meeting targets and achieving your yearly goals is a vital part of ensuring your company is successful. However, an organisation that embodies a truly remarkable culture of pride and trust recognises that it does not live in a vacuum and sets about creating solutions for social issues or pays it forward by offering their services free of charge to non-profit organisations or worthy start-ups.
Time is the most valuable currency we have, and considering that we spend most of our time at work, it would be preferable to have that time be enjoyable and fulfilling. Using time optimally to develop an effective culture of pride and trust will pay back proverbial dividends. Your team members and the organisation as a whole will be more likely to achieve bottom-line goals. Furthermore, the space created will be a happy and gratifying workplace that experiences a lower rate of absenteeism and has people vested in delivering a quality product or service.
This article is republished with permission from Premier Magazine.