Corporate Culture

November 6, 2015

A Vision of the Perfect Workplace

Have you ever thought about what your perfect workplace would be? Imagine it. You walk in the front door every morning and are greeted by smiles that make you feel like you matter. What a great way to start the day!

image from

image from

As you settle into your work space, you realize how fortunate you are that you are encouraged to make that space feel like your own. That’s why you have some plants and pictures of your goofy dog or smiling kids on display.

You think back to last week’s monthly check-in with your manager, where you discussed status on your projects and annual goals. Together, you made a few adjustments that are really going to move a couple of projects forward. You also talked about needing some flexibility because of family issues … and your manager instantly agreed, underscoring the value the company places on family and on work/life balance. You also talked briefly about the seminar you attended last week (thank goodness, this company understands the need for professional development).

Looking forward to the day, you go over the agendas that were sent out for two meetings you have to attend today. Seeing an issue that could become problematic, you reach out to a colleague and talk about how the two of you together could smooth the waters on that topic. You also make a quick call to your mentor to be sure that you aren’t missing anything in your approach.

Once you are in that meeting, you participate in open, honest conversations about each item. Everyone shares thoughts and suggestions. What you realize is how remarkable it is that everyone is looking for the best team solution, not something to move their own agendas forward. So very different from your last workplace.

Here, you have that feeling of being trusted. You know that all up and down the line, everyone is held accountable, and that makes a huge difference. You know exactly where you fit into the company’s mission and how what you do helps make the company successful. Yep, it’s a great place to work.

As you read this account, how many of the points in this person’s account made you say, “Yep, that’s how we do it”? Were there ones that made you say, “I wish my company did that.? Or even, “That’s not like the real world”?

This is an ideal. Within this vision are tenets for engaging your workforce. And of course, the closer your company is to the ideal, the stronger their business base will be. Happy, engaged workers are exceptionally productive, create highly satisfied customers, and come to work with a sense of purpose. Maybe here, you saw some changes that you can make today to create a more ideal workplace for the employees at your company.

August 8, 2015

When leaders play the Grapevine game

“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.” ~

Edward R. Murrow

If you’ve ever played the Grapevine game, you know exactly what Murrow was talking about. Here’s how it goes.

You sit in a circle. The first person whispers something to the person on his or her right, who then whispers what they heard to the next person. This continues around the circle, each person whispering after only hearing the statement once, with no clarifications. Finally, the last person announces aloud what they heard, which invariably is very different from the initial statement, and often quite humorous.

Now, let’s think about that in terms of communication in an organization. Ideally, we want the executive to be talking directly to employees about big stuff, right?

To build trust and engagement, the CEO should communicate directly the company’s vision and mission, big changes in strategy, things that affect everybody. AND they should be eyeball-to-eyeball with employees as much as possible.

Too many executives rely on the grapevine method. They meet with the “executive team” and make decisions. Those executives communicate changes and new objectives to the subordinate managers, who then communicate down the line. And what they are communicating is their interpretation, coupled with their feelings about the changes (even though that may be subtle).

If that was a difficult one, or one the executive or manager didn’t really agree with, what is the chance that individual is offering a rallying cry, like the executive might have?

AND, if the manager who is doing the communicating is already a manager who is causing employees to disengage (because people leave managers … they don’t leave companies), you get the worst possible result from relying on the grapevine.

You want to build trust and engagement? Stop playing the grapevine game. Get eyeball-to-eyeball with your employees and dialogue.

How’s the grapevine in your office?

July 24, 2015

Colonel Mustard in the break room with a doughnut

Three ways to make your break room generate ROI

What’s your break room like?

Is it the place where doughnuts or other treats occasionally show up when someone is feeling generous?

Does it have that standard, sterile kitchen feel with a few tables and chairs and the obligatory

Photo of generic break room

Traditional break room (Photo from CoffeeAmp)

bulletin board for legal notices?

OR have you realized that your break room is a space that could bring you a tremendous return on investment if you use it as an employee engagement laboratory?

Absolutely! What better place in your company than the informal space of the break room to encourage cooperation (and smashed silos), impromptu problem solving, and provide creative downtime.

By creating a space that attracts and welcomes employees, your ROI grows through:

  • Higher productivity
  • Stronger customer satisfaction
  • Increased innovation

Of course, this won’t just magically happen if you slap some pretty paint on the walls.  For this to work, there has to be an overall mindset about what a break room is about AND what being productive means.

This doesn’t work if there is an expectation that employees are only productive when “chained” to their workstations.

This ONLY works when employees are encouraged, even urged, to refresh their minds and bodies throughout the day so that when they are “working,” they are at peak performance.  And when they are “on break,” they have opportunities to collaborate, to stimulate their minds, and to truly refresh their brains.

What changes would you make in your break room to increase your ROI?

If you have a great break room, send me a photo or post it here so I can share it with others!

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