Adjusting Your Work Culture

Do you ever feel that your work environment could use an attitude adjustment? The work culture feels negative, heavy, and leaves you feeling drained.

No matter what kind of work you do, odds are you are part of a team in some way, shape, or form at this very moment. You might be part of an organization on a local or national level; maybe you are an entrepreneur with a brick-and-mortar business, or you predominantly work online. And, regardless of whether you’re the CEO, manager, sales rep, or assistant – you’re a key member of that business’s operations.

We’ve all been members of many different types of teams, run by many different types of people. But, it seems that no matter how many teams I’ve worked with, one fundamental truth remains;

The success of an overall team depends upon its leader, and what’s most important is that person’s attitude while leading.

“Heart-centered leaders understand it’s not about how they feel, it’s about how their team feels.”

Work Cultures Start At The Top

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find myself particularly motivated by negativity.

After a while, anyone confronted with daily negativity can start to feel beat down. They’ll start to feel like no matter how much time and effort they put into their work, there will always going to be something wrong with it – and that is exactly what will be remembered.

Unfortunately, I speak from experience – I once worked on a team where the only interaction I had with my team leader happened when I was doing something wrong. It was never balanced out by anything positive I achieved or positive reinforcement. Over time, these interactions left me feeling apathetic about the work I was doing, and the bare minimum started to look appealing – which is never a good thing.

That’s not to say that my mistakes shouldn’t have been pointed out. But, you don’t need a degree in psychology to know that only focusing on what is wrong is not the most effective way to get your team member motivated to do better work.

I began to realize that this kind of negativity not only took away the passion of wanting to do things right, but it also took away the passion of wanting to see the overall project succeed and finding the motivation to do the project at all.

Let’s face facts. As team leaders, we want our team members to feel passionate about the work they do for us. We want them to take ownership of a project and feel proud of the work they do. After all, a team’s success is good for business!

However, you can’t expect your team to be motivated if your leadership attitude during the project is solely from the viewpoint of pointing out mistakes and failures. Furthermore, you will have a hard time inspiring your team in the future if all they hear during your work together is what is wrong, and never what is right.

Consider this…

Think about the last ten interactions you had with your team members. Out of the ten, how many were positive?

If a person on your team is not someone whom you feel 100% proud of, or whom you’d never recommend to anyone, then they shouldn’t be on your team. Period.

When a project goes well, we say ‘Thanks!’ or ‘Great job!’… and while that’s certainly positive, the feeling of accomplishment left with the team member seems quickly abandoned when something goes wrong in a project.

In those cases, there are inquiries, and reprimands, and all future work feels tainted by the last wrong thing that happened. The feeling of ‘what have you done for me lately?’ creeps in.

That’s not to say that we should never take mistakes seriously, or not reprimand a person if warranted.

But, don’t allow the mistake to define the person. It’s important to remember their collective work; to remember what they bring to your team, your company, and yes, you!

So, what do you do if one of your team members keeps messing up?

Instead of turning a blind eye to the situation, try these tips:
  • If you get into a situation where mistakes are starting to show up where they haven’t before, train yourself to stop, take a deep breath, and look inward.
  • Ask yourself: has there been a shift in how you have dealt with this person? Did you properly explain the task and convey the expectations? Is the issue occurring around a task or project that is outside of their scope of work?
  • Talk it out! Yep… talk about it with your team member in the exact way you would want someone to talk to you about your mistakes or missteps.
  • Once you’ve flushed out the reasons for why the mistake occurred and have outlined a path to success: let it go. Focus on the bigger picture. Don’t define your team member, or your relationship with them, by their mistake.
  • Move on. Monitor and see if the behavior changes. Be positive, encourage them, and always take the time to express your sincere appreciation when tasks are done right. Be sure your positive reinforcement is balanced with any negative correspondence and watch the changes occur!

The feeling of ‘what have you done for me lately’ doesn’t feel good to anyone. It’s as though no hard work was ever remembered, but instead, all that matters is how many times, or how badly you screwed up.

Know that mistakes are going to happen – we are only human. Take that cue and acknowledge the mistakes as part of a ‘balanced diet’ of constructive criticism and positive reinforcement with the goal of building team morale and growing together.

What balance do you have in your team management? Do your team members feel appreciated or abused? Supported or beaten down? 
What can you do differently in managing your team to boost morale instead of bust it? Share your experiences by commenting below.


team building, team motivation, the valued workforce, valued workforce, work culture

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