My lovely bride (of 33 years), Diane, is a native Texan. We’ve visited her family there on many occasions and lived in Dripping Springs, TX for a few years before we found our way to Colorado.
While automobiling around the state, you’ll see “Drive Friendly” signs along most highways. The Texas Dept. Of Transportation defines this approach as yielding to other drivers and being courteous.
When driving on two-lane Texas highways in daylight and a car approaches you, 95% of the time the driver will give a small wave. It’s part of the Texas culture.
Let’s bring this idea into our organizations. Wouldn’t it be great to have an authentically “friendly” work place? Does your organizational culture provide a courteous, safe, inspiring environment where people thrive, where work gets done, customers are wow’ed daily, and stakeholders are equally thrilled?
Creation of a truly friendly work environment for ALL staff, from senior leaders to front line employees, does not happen casually. It happens only when senior leaders are intentional about their corporate culture, when they place equal emphasis on performance AND values demonstration.
There are three levels of workplace cultural health:
- The most basic level is CIVILITY. This level is an absolute minimum; an un-civil workplace creates stress, frustration, and distrust. None of those create consistently high performance, values-aligned work environments. Civility means that all staff are treated with respect: their roles are respected, they (as persons) are respected, their knowledge & skills are respected, their goal commitment is respected. Civility is typically a passive experience; active conversations shift the workplace up into the next level of health. Note that if ONE un-civil interaction occurs at ANY TIME, it means your culture doesn’t meet this minimum level of cultural health.
- The second level is ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. To reach this level, civility must be firmly embedded in the organization’s work environment. Acknowledgement is the active recognition and expression of thanks and gratitude for staff effort, commitment, skills, productivity, citizenship, service, etc. This acknowledgement happens in various and frequent forms in the work environment; certificates, stories on the company intranet, verbal thanks, applause for people and/or team efforts, etc. The words, “Thank you” are heard a lot.
- The most advanced – and desirable – level is VALIDATION. To reach this level, acknowledgement must be firmly embedded in the organization’s work environment. Validation is the active valuing of team members’ ideas, skills, enthusiasm, and talent. Validation is often seen in the form of delegation of authority and responsibility. Talented, committed team members thrive when their leaders – and the organization’s members – show trust and respect for their skills, commitment, and potential.
How do you know the level of your team or organization’s cultural health? ASK EMPLOYEES. Regularly (twice a year, at least). Act on the data you gather by validating elements (and players) that support your desired culture and redirecting/removing elements (yes, and players) that don’t.
Join in the conversation! How “friendly” is your team or organization’s culture? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
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