Because we spend at least a third of our day working, the environment at work strongly reflects on our personal lives, and the two are constantly interconnected. It’s clear by now to everyone that a positive work environment sets off a chain reaction of desirable consequences: happier employees who are more energized, engaged, motivated and productive, working towards a common goal. A positive work environment is essentially a highly professional one that brings out the best in its employees and makes the workplace something for everyone to be proud of. Whether you’re part of a large company or a smaller business, the responsibility lies heavily on the manager, whose job is to nurture their team. Here’s how to maintain a positive work environment as a manager.
1. Lead by example
You might have expected this, and you were right because this really is the most important. You don’t want your office to feel like a circus or to constantly deal with complaints, so let that atmosphere of professionalism start with you. Dress appropriately, don’t be crude or vulgar in any way, be organized and never engage in gossip or negativity. That also means refraining from any kind of drama and whatever you do, don’t be that moody manager. You can’t expect your employees to be polite and professional if you’re not that way yourself.
2. Show gratitude and meaningful acknowledgment
Better known as positive reinforcement, this is an approach that gives employees a sense of purpose and belonging to the company. One of the most frequent employee complaints in companies is that they don’t feel appreciated. This results in employees doing an average job at best for any project since they feel like whatever they do doesn’t really matter and won’t be recognized anyway.
Remember to say “Thank you”, “I appreciate it” and show gratitude whenever you can, not just for the job done but also for the effort put in. Next, show your appreciation for each employee in a meaningful way, telling them exactly what they did well and giving more detail to hour praise, rather than throwing around empty phrases. This contributes enormously to employee motivation and productivity.
3. Make an effort to connect
Similar to showing acknowledgment in a more meaningful way, you should strive to establish more human relationships with your employees. Establishing a position of caring lets employees know they matter and encourages them in many ways. You don’t need to get personal, but just ensure that you’re not talking to your employees only about what needs to be done next. Also, remember that in-person communication makes a much stronger connection than emails.
4. Encourage open dialogue
Let your employees know their input is valuable and you can discuss ideas as well as issues, like a team does. People can’t agree on everything all the time, and this is normal, even desirable in developing the best strategies. Open professional communication is important, and each person’s voice needs to be heard. Don’t get defensive or passive-aggressive when someone disagrees with you but rather listen and discuss. Encourage your employees to do the same with each other.
5. Address disputes right away
However, disagreements may sometimes escalate into disputes among employees. If employees come to you with complaints about each other, it’s important to deal with this professionally and work together with them to find a compromise, rather than telling them to settle it on their own ASAP. Unfortunately, disputes can sometimes escalate beyond your power to settle them, and at times like these, don’t hesitate to seek out help from workplace and business mediation services. Don’t be afraid that this would make you look like a bad leader who can’t solve everything. It’s only normal that you can’t solve every single issue, and the characteristic of a good leader is being able to recognize this and admit it with no inferiority complex.
6. Celebrate company wins as well as personal ones
Good news lightens up the workspace with positivity. Start a meeting off by sharing something positive regarding the company and work results. Outside of meetings, share the good news whenever you get them – the employees will get a sense of purpose and appreciate your acknowledgment that you’re all working together towards a common goal. Make a little celebration for birthdays and personal milestones as well to keep the positivity flowing.
7. Don’t micromanage
People usually act how you treat them. If you treat your employees like mature, responsible, smart adults whom you can entrust various tasks, they will act that way. Micromanaging tends to lower overall morale, as people can easily find it insulting. That’s because it shows a lack of trust and trust is a very important factor when it comes to creating a positive work environment.
Lastly, don’t forget that positivity means kindness as well. Random acts of kindness go a long way and simply make everyone happier – offer to help when you can, ask people how they’re doing, share a snack, etc. A strong, positive leader is not afraid their authority will be diminished if they show kindness and spontaneity. So, remain professional but enjoy some fun and laughter with your team. The workplace can be very enjoyable – it’s all about creating that light, open atmosphere which everyone wants to contribute to. You’ll find that much more work of better quality is done this way.