How purposeful, positive, and productive is your work culture?
Research indicates that traditional workplaces aren’t very fun places to hang out in. Gallup’s daily engagement dashboard shows only 35% of US workers are highly engaged. TinyPulse’s 2014 Engagement and Culture report found only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work!
If leaders want to retain and attract top talent, to serve customers beautifully, to create and deliver desirable products and services, and to generate revenues that more than offset expenses, a bloodthirsty work environment isn’t the way to go!
In fact, across all industries, people who feel loved at work are more engaged, satisfied, and productive. In addition, they work more effectively in teams, are absent less often, and are more committed to their organizations.
Yet, love and compassion for one’s colleagues is rarely expressed in most workplaces. Why?
Strong emotions get a bad rap in the business world. Yet people demonstrate strong emotions at work every day — cheering at a project well done, bubbling with anger over mistreatment by a boss or colleague, thrilled at their sports teams, or so frustrated with their teenagers that they could spit nails.
Leaders must certainly set a tone that’s professional. But openly expressing love and appreciation for their people doesn’t undermine professional interactions. In fact, it increases the frequency of people treating each other with trust, respect, and dignity.
And, in a positive, validating work environment—where team members feel loved and appreciated—people are much less likely to behave in ways that are unprofessional toward one another; in ways that are dismissive, discounting, or demeaning.
Love is a foundational element of a purposeful, positive, and productive work culture.
How can leaders show love, validation, and compassion to their teams every day? Start by following these four best practices, which—of course—spell LOVE:
- Language: Make a habit of talking openly about positive emotions like love, compassion, and appreciation. Set a new tone in which authentic human emotions are embraced in your workplace. Demonstrate positive, validating language like “Here’s what I love about how you handled that situation…”
- Optimism: Be optimistic about how your people make clients’ lives better every day. Tell stories about your organization’s servant purpose in action, using words like “love” to describe the effect a team’s efforts have on the customer experience. Say things like “Our customers love us when we go above and beyond to deliver a great experience.”
- Validation: Look for the good. Recognize and praise ideas and efforts, not just accomplishments. It takes nine times the praise to offset one zinger! Instead of demeaning, discounting, or dismissing, be a source of grace and gratitude. Say things like “I love the initiative you took. You made it clear how much you contribute to this team.”
- Excellence: Leaders must not leave the quality of their work culture to chance. Formalize your desired culture with an organizational constitution. Make values—how people treat one another on a daily basis— as important as the work itself. Define values in observable, tangible, measurable terms, so everyone knows that your “integrity” value (for example) means, “I do what I say I will do.” Live those behaviors, coach those behaviors, and redirect misaligned behaviors.
Through investing time and energy to embed love into their work culture, leaders can help their people feel genuinely appreciated and valued. Those feelings will last far longer—and have far greater impact—than a team victory or a project’s successful completion.
Don’t leave your work culture to chance. Be intentional by showing the LOVE and appreciation to team members, every day.
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year executive career leading high performing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. He has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. Chris is one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers and was a featured presenter at SXSW 2015.