In management circles, it’s generally believed and accepted that a positive environment in the workplace leads to higher productivity, minimal employee turnovers and over-all better healthy outcomes. On the other side of the coin, a workplace that is hostile and insensitive, reeking with anxiety and negativity usually produces poor job performance, low creativity and little innovation. A fairly recent Harvard research study has shown that when leaders and top honchos are humble, inclusive and frequently encourage their staff to voice out their feelings or seek help, employees are generally happier and become more engaged. An oppressive corporate culture over time, simply goes against achieving positive results.
What You Can Do
If you’re one of the team leaders or senior managers of your company, here are three tried and tested rules that will help bring out honest and constructive feedback, important to managing your people, and ultimately, your company better.
- When you want to correct your employees, do so in a positive context. You may even want to criticize or confront your subordinates. That’s okay, but give out as many as three or four positive statements for every negative one you make. This makes a lot of sense. Our brains tend to focus more on negative feedbacks than on the positive feedbacks. So, when you say a lot more that is encouraging, supportive and appreciative, these will sort of neutralize the brain’s partiality to negativity and will ergo, lead to a higher degree of employee engagement. Research studies say that where there is positive communication, you’re likely to see the best results; good engagement and high morale.
- Center your communication on the strengths of your colleagues and employees and their unique contributions. It has almost become a habit for us to harp on what’s wrong with our employees. However, by focusing on their weaknesses alone we may just inadvertently be creating competence. By centering on their strengths, we are creating excellence. Be as specific and detailed about your positive feedbacks as you are about the negative ones. Sometimes, we’re guilty of simply glossing on their strengths much like a ship that passes in the night and yet we delve on their weaknesses like the 4th of July fireworks.
- Put a lot of emphasis on teamwork and commonalities. When talking about the negative incident, be objective. Try to describe the problem in detail rather than evaluating it, and identify the specific consequences that resulted and your personal feelings that came with it without placing blame. Try to stay away from arguing who’s right or who’s at fault. Instead suggest acceptable, reasonable and fair alternatives in correcting the situation.
Given an understanding of the foregoing, it won’t hurt to do an honest and candid self-critique to objectively find out where your corporate culture stands. If you feel it could do with some improvements, the guidelines above could pretty well serve as starting points for your top managers and team leaders.