Troy White’s Top 10 Tips for Great Office Culture

Written by: Troy White

We spend more time with the people we work with than we do our families, and the culture of our workplace can mean the difference between feelings of excitement or anxiety at the thought of going to work the next day. Our workplace is a unique social and psychological environment where we can utilize our strengths and unique experiences, and challenge ourselves to grow beyond what we thought possible. So here are the top ten ways to create a thriving company culture!

About The Author

Troy White is a Transformation Coach and the founder of Upstream™, where he guides individuals and organizations to grow beyond their barriers through emotional intelligence and cognitive behavioral training. Troy has over 5,000 hours of experience helping individuals, companies, and nonprofit organizations achieve success, including city and county entities such as Fargo Public Schools and the Cass County Jail.

1. Promote Personal Growth

In the age of social media, cell phones, and working remotely, our personal and professional lives are intertwined now more than ever. Promoting personal growth can have positive impacts on both.

When employees are encouraged to grow personally and professionally, it gives them better problem-solving skills, communications skills, and the ability to manage and overcome emotional challenges at home and at work. The ripple effect of personal growth starts a cycle of improvement in all areas of their lives which leads to increased productivity and a more a positive work environment. Promoting personal growth results in higher employee retention rates as employees feel valued and invested in the company’s success.

By fostering personal growth, you not only invest in your employees but also your own success. So, embrace personal growth and watch your workplace culture thrive.

2. Model A Growth Mindset

When it comes to developing a growth mindset within your organization, modeling is essential. It’s important to demonstrate a commitment to learning, collaboration, innovation adaptability, and continuous improvement. But don’t just talk the talk – make sure you’re walking the walk!

Encourage your team to take risks and embrace challenges and be willing to take on new challenges yourself. Remember, growth involves taking steps outside of your comfort zone, so don’t be afraid to stretch yourself or your team. This can help employees see setbacks and failures as opportunities for growth and learning. With a forward-thinking mindset, a willingness to learn and fail, and a commitment to growth, your organization will be able to adapt, capitalize on opportunities, and maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

3. Eliminate Fear

Fear in the workplace can have a crippling effect on employees, hindering their ability to perform to the best of their abilities. Fear can manifest in many forms, including fear of failure, fear of success, fear of speaking up, fear of conflict, or fear of retribution. It can stifle creativity, innovation, and collaboration, diminish trust and confidence, and create a toxic work environment. Fear starting at the top is often driven by insecurities, fear of powerlessness and loss of control or respect.

To reduce fear, it’s important to create a culture of psychological safety, where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and feedback without fear of judgment or negative consequences. Leaders can foster psychological safety by encouraging open communication, active listening, and responding with empathy and respect while still being assertive. Transparency and accountability can also reduce fear, as this ensures that everyone is held to the same standards and are aware of what is expected of them.

By eliminating fear and promoting psychological safety, you can build a culture of trust and respect, leading to greater creativity, innovation, and job satisfaction.

4. Build A Team On A Foundation of Trust

When I first begin working with an organization, employees are often afraid to speak or share and we sit in uncomfortable silence, waiting for someone to say something. There is little trust amongst these “team” members. There is a vast difference between calling yourself a team and actually being a team. The former is a feelgood phrase to throw around during company meetings. However, the latter requires much more effort, commitment, and most importantly, trust.

Being a team means not only working toward a common goal but also supporting one another, collaborating, valuing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and having a deeper level of investment into one another’s success. It means showing up for each other, even on days when motivation is low. The real magic happens when individuals learn to put aside their egos and work together seamlessly to achieve success.

Trust starts at the top. Share your goals, challenges, and even your failures. Encourage open communication and feedback. And most importantly, lead by example and hold yourself to the same standards you expect from employees. Show your team that trust is not just a buzzword, but a fundamental part of your organizational values. Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.

5. Unleash the Power of Vulnerability

I teach an emotional intelligence and cognitive behavior training class at the jail once a week to new and existing inmates. It can be a bit intimidating to stand in front of a sea of 50-60 orange jumpsuits and tattoos and talk about emotions, but the first thing I do is share my failures, fears, and the adversity I overcame. By doing so, men whose defenses have been up their entire lives, are now discussing their innermost struggles and emotions and even offering support to one another within an hour. That’s the power of vulnerability.

Being vulnerable as a leader may seem counterintuitive and uncomfortable. You might believe that you must project an image of strength and perfection. However, when it comes to leadership, vulnerability, when done appropriately, is actually a strength that can benefit workplace culture. By modeling vulnerability, you create a culture of trust that encourages others to do the same which fosters deeper relationships and a sense of mutual support and respect within the team.

To be vulnerable as a leader, start by acknowledging your own limitations and areas for improvement. Share stories of challenges you have faced and how you have overcome them. Admit when you don’t have all the answers and invite others to contribute their ideas and perspectives. When you make a mistake, take responsibility, and apologize if necessary. Showing your human side will gain respect.

Of course, when modeling vulnerability, be sure to maintain professional boundaries and avoid oversharing or emotional outbursts.

6. Model Assertiveness

We can lead with compassion and empathy and still be assertive. Assertiveness comes from a place of strength and confidence while aggression comes from a place fear and defensiveness. Assertiveness involves confidently expressing your needs, opinions, and boundaries while respecting those of others. It involves clear communication and active listening, seeking to understand the perspectives of others and finding mutually beneficial solutions.

Aggressiveness, on the other hand, involves imposing your will on others, using forceful language and behavior to get your way, and disregarding the needs and opinions of others. Aggressiveness can damage relationships and create a toxic work environment.

To be assertive at work, start by being clear about your goals and needs, communicating them directly and respectfully. Use “I” statements to express your thoughts and feelings without attacking or blaming others. Listen actively to the perspectives of others and seek to understand their concerns and needs. Use confident body language, such as maintaining eye contact and speaking clearly and calmly. Set clear boundaries and follow through on consequences if they are not respected. By being assertive, you will build respect and trust amongst colleagues and achieve your goals in a way that is productive, respectful, and professional.

7. Increase Emotional Intelligence

I once had an HR director tell me she got angry at home but not at work. “You don’t feel anger, or you don’t express it?” I asked. “Expressing it is a behavior. You can feel the emotion without expressing it.” She paused a moment then said, “I don’t express it because it isn’t appropriate.”

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in oneself and others, and to use this understanding to manage one’s own emotions and relationships effectively. Leaders with high emotional intelligence can inspire trust and respect in their team and create a positive and supportive work environment. They can communicate clearly and empathetically, and build strong relationships based on respect, and inclusivity.

Employees with high emotional intelligence are better equipped to manage their own stress and emotions and respond appropriately to the emotions of others. This can improve conflict resolution, customer service, sales, and teamwork. Emotional intelligence can also enhance creativity and innovation, as it encourages individuals to think outside the box and consider diverse perspectives.

By increasing the emotional intelligence of your organization, you will build a culture of empathy, collaboration, and innovation as well as increase employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and business success.

8. Feed their Need to be Valued and Important

Feeling valued and important in life is a fundamental human need that can greatly impact job satisfaction and motivation. When employees feel that their contributions are recognized and appreciated, they are more likely to be engaged, committed, and productive. Most conflicts between employee stem from personal inner conflicts fueled by faulty perceptions, beliefs, or interpretations that they are less valuable or important than others. These faulty perceptions can create power struggles between individuals or departments.

To create a culture of value and importance, leaders can start by providing regular feedback and recognition for employee achievements and contributions. This can include formal recognition programs, such as employee of the month awards, or informal gestures, such as verbal praise or thank-you notes. Leaders should also ensure that employees are involved in decision-making processes and have a voice in the direction of the organization. Providing opportunities for growth and development, such as training programs and mentoring can also help employees feel that their skills and potential are being recognized and nurtured.

By meeting employees’ need for value and importance, companies can build a positive and engaged workforce that is committed to achieving shared goals.

9. Serve a Greater Purpose

Not all employees are motivated by the same things, but few are motivated by simply producing parts, providing a service, getting a paycheck, or making the company more money. Feeling that one is serving a greater purpose is a crucial element of job satisfaction and employee engagement.

When individuals believe their work is contributing to a larger cause or mission, and they can understand the impact of their efforts, they are more likely to be motivated, committed, and fulfilled in their jobs.

Leaders can help employees connect their work to this larger purpose by regularly communicating the impact of their work on the organization, customers, or society. Ultimately, by creating a culture of purpose and meaning, you can attract and retain top talent, enhance productivity and innovation, and contribute to a better world.

10. Train Attitude… and Skill

I often hear leaders say they approach hiring with the mindset of “Hire for attitude because skills can be taught, attitude cannot.” And, time and again I hear countless stories of from leaders who struggle with having to let go of talented individuals with undesirable attitudes and behaviors, or worse yet, keep them because they can’t find a replacement with the skills needed.

The fact is, attitudes and behaviors CAN be shaped and changed significantly and often rather quickly. The problem is many companies and leaders are not equipped or feel it’s their responsibility to do so. The false belief that you can’t teach attitude and behavior results in little time or money invested into something most leaders value as much as, if not more, than skill.

While establishing acceptable attitudes and behaviors for your organization is critical, enforcing them without changing the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that drive them can result in frustrated employees who are simply compliant…for a while.

Training for attitude involves introducing new hires to the company culture and values, and helping them develop the skills and behaviors necessary to succeed in their role. This may involve providing training in communication, teamwork, and leadership, as well as introducing employees to the company’s mission and vision. By providing training, you can create a more cohesive and engaged team, and reduce turnover rates by ensuring that employees feel connected to the company and its goals. And, it can save you a time and emotional energy that are better spent elsewhere.

Getting people with diverse beliefs shaped by different experiences, adversity, family, and cultural norms to work together to achieve a common goal is not an easy undertaking. It’s ok to not instinctively know how get everyone to share your vision, passion and motivation and create a work environment that will contribute to your success. In truth, leaders who excel in this area were either taught by a mentor or were intentional in learning how to develop these skills. After all, we cannot have something we’ve never acquired, and we cannot pass on something we’ve never had. The best thing you can do for your organization is invest in the people who make it work, and this starts with you.

Troy White
Transformation Coach • Speaker Upstream Enterprises, LLC.

Phone: 701.446.8512
Facebook: /growupstream
Linkedin: /growupstream
Address: 417 Main Ave Ste 010 Fargo, ND 58103

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