Creating a Better Workplace

When you are trying to make a positive influence in your workplace do you find that:

You spend most of your time trying to convince those not on board that they should change their behavior?

You spend most of your time embracing those that are already positive employees and fully on board?

If you picked the first answer, welcome to the club.

Most of us focus on what’s wrong with our work place culture first.  It’s human nature. Brain science has termed this negative bias.  Basically, it means that negative information has a larger impact on behavior and perception than positive information. In other words, we tend to focus on the one thing that is not going well instead of all the things that are going right.

This week I gave a presentation on culture shift at the Governor’s Lean Transformation Conference.  It was a packed room full of people wanting to learn how to better improve their workplace cultures.

One of the points I focused on is how to know who, in your workplace, you should spend your energy on.

In any work group, there are three types of people:

1. Culture Contributors

These are the people that are all in. They are positive influencers to the culture. They are the ones that are generally positive and will engage in new ideas, and support improving the work environment in any way they can.

2. Culture Consumers

These are the people that are on board. Not necessarily out in front, but they are happy to partake in new, positive gestures. For example, they’ll be first in line for the Donuts on Friday program. Not necessarily bringing any donuts, but they will definitely be first in line to get one.

3. Culture Critics

These are the people that have nothing good to say about any new change.  They will look for the problems, focusing on the negative and the “what about me” aspect to anything new that you try to do.  These folks often try to drag others down.

Sound familiar? Most of us spend our time trying to convince the critics that they should change their behavior.

But, that’s not where you should spend your energy.

Spend your energy, ideas and enthusiasm on those that are already on board – your culture contributors!  These are the people that can help you model the behavior you want, and will respond well to positive changes.

When we spend our time on the critics, we rarely get significant movement. They need to sit back and find fault with changing the way things are.

And, whether you spend your energy on the critics or not, they will eventually decide either to join the group, or self select out.

When we spend our time on the contributors, we can build a contagious atmosphere of introducing small positive changes that will make huge differences over time to your workplace culture.

Start there.

Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She coaches small business managers on HR issues and provides training on workplace communication to organizational groups.

In addition, she hosts a twice-annual Women’s Summit that brings women together to learn how to become more confident communicators.

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