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Building an Awesome Workplace Culture

Apr 15, 2022

This week, I met with someone I worked with many years ago. They were an entirely different person from who they were, and it reminded me that:

  •  The environment (or workplace) is an external condition in which behaviour takes place and in which we operate.
  • People are not their behaviours - behaviour is actions and reactions by an individual within the environment


This got me thinking about workplace cultures and the importance of having an awesome environment – particularly as it impacts individuals' behaviour and happiness in the workplace.



Symptoms of a toxic workplace

Low morale at work - the workplace seems lacking in energy and joyfulness, and where people don't appear to be genuinely happy - not just from the Monday blues.

A lack of communication - where communication only flows downwards. Staff are reluctant to ask questions or for guidance or advice.

Employees are afraid of the boss - everyone appears to be "yes men", meaning they don't want to challenge or rock the boat. People rarely say no or ask why.

Putting process ahead of people – the focus is placed on Process and Technology, and People are excluded.

Low retention of staff - there's a high volume of people leaving.

High absenteeism - there's a high number of people absent from work. The cost of sick days is expensive.

Cliques and the Drama Triangle - there are several cliques where the drama triangle plays out where people are seen as the persecutor, victim and rescuer.

Lack of empowerment for middle management - middle management cannot do anything about the problems their teams face and can only sympathise.


These symptoms lead to: 

Absence of Trust - teams who lack trust display hesitation when asking for help, cover up mistakes and weaknesses and assume hidden agendas are at play

Fear of Conflict - the absence of trust leads to the fear of conflict. People won't say no as they are fearful of the repercussions. People worry about office politics and how they can keep themselves safe.

Lack of Commitment - when teams are nervous in the workplace, fear of failure rises, and they struggle to make decisions. You will find that cascaded objectives are not in place, and people don't know where they should be focussing.

Avoidance of Accountability - not having the objectives in place leads to an inability to mature the team performance. The quality of work delivered is sub-par, and timelines are frequently extended and deadlines missed.

Inattention to results - without the focus and clear objectives, team members lack purpose, become distracted and focus on themselves rather than on achieving the company's goals.



The benefits of having an awesome workplace culture:

 Less stress - an awesome work environment that is safe and supportive results in a less-stressed Tech Team member.  

Less absenteeism - a great workplace results in fewer people calling in sick. 

Greater productivity - a happy Tech Team gets more work done. The more work your Tech Team members do, the greater the productivity, resulting in lower costs and greater profit margins.

Employee satisfaction - employee satisfaction increases when employees enjoy their work and workplace.

Employee retention - companies with an awesome workplace culture have significantly fewer employees leaving.  This saves the cost of recruiting and time to induct and train.

Collaboration - people are more willing to work to overcome challenges together, as they feel comfortable being able to speak their opinions and give feedback.

Better customer service - an engaged employee provides better customer service, particularly if the company values the importance of customer relationships.


How you can improve your workplace culture

Steps for you to take as a Tech Leader:

Keep developing yourself - invest in your training and development.  Developing your skills and knowledge will extend your opportunities, now and in the future.  

Think long term - keep your goals in mind. Consider how your actions will impact you, your Tech Team, and the company's future.

Take risks, speak up - even if your idea is not selected for taking forward, you could inspire a wave of thoughts in others to lead to an even better idea. 

Ask questions - there may be a more effective or efficient way of doing things, but no thought was put into how it could be improved because it hasn't been challenged before. Being able to ask for guidance and advice is also a sign of confidence.  


Steps to Take with Your Tech Teams

Obtain buy-in - request input and feedback from your Tech Team, and involve them when making decisions. Your Tech Team is more likely to buy in to something when they have had a hand in developing it.

Develop a Tech Team Improvement Plan - together with your Tech Team, get their input on how you can all improve the service you deliver. Then work together to prioritise and give your Tech Team members responsibility for areas that require development - either as individuals or as small groups.

Build relationships - build more profound and meaningful relationships with your Tech Team. Get to know them as individuals- who they are, what they like, family, activities and interests outside of work.

Welcome new Tech Team Members - spend time with your new Tech Team members. Get to know them first and then talk about the vision and mission, the workplace culture, purpose of their role.

Recognise the talents and achievements of your Tech Team - people love to know when they have done something well.

Give credit when it is due.  

Communicate openly - follow through with what you say. Make sure you communicate openly and allow for questions.

Resolve conflicts - conflict and disagreements will happen, and sometimes these can be good. Take ownership of your actions and behaviour and apologise where you need to.

Give back - giving back to says a lot about the workplace culture. Encourage your Tech Team to find ways that they can give back to a broader community.

Values alignment - understanding the values and what's important to your Tech Team members and aligning with the company values will positively impact the workplace.

Remember: People are not their behaviours - accept the person; their behaviour is something they do and can be changed (if the person is willing).  



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