The culture and ecology of business environments are extremely powerful in impacting the quality of work that people deliver and it falls to leaders (at whatever level) and the ways they behave to create that culture. If their behaviours are healthy, balanced and humane, so similarly will the environment be.
As human beings, we all want to feel energised, supported and recognised for the contribution that we make to the relationships we are engaged with, as well as the organisation of which we are a part. So, the heavy burden of responsibility for role-modelling the ideal behaviours fall to leaders to show others how to be, as well as what to do. The historical patterns of business have focused too much on doing and accomplishing the tasks that need completion, rather than the states of being that people can have in themselves to do with supporting, recognising and supporting others, whilst doing what needs to be done. If Millenials have a strong message to give to older generations of workers, and leaders, it is this – the person and their state of authenticity, genuineness and humanity are far more important in empowering and energising their talents than anything else.
Building sustainable, healthy environments requires the establishment of trust as a currency of relationship interactions, and this has to start at the top and trickle down! Creating a healthy environment is the responsibility of a leader. So here are:
Seven Ways to Create a Healthy Environment in Your Business
- Invite truthful communications
Demonstrate that honesty really IS the best policy and invite truthful communications from your people. Be prepared to listen and hear contrary views to your own. You will benefit from this; don’t let your ego prevent you listening to differing perceptions. Be truthful in your communications. Don’t leave out bad news, or be political in order to create temporary positive feelings in your audience. People will get to know what is true and they will lose respect for you if you haven’t represented things accurately.
- Offer Respect to people you work with
Respect means listening and purposefully, valuing each person’s contribution. A sign of good leadership is knowing that you don’t know everything. Listen and get feedback from your team regularly. Each person should know their own role and responsibilities – let them get on and accomplish them. If you’ve shared the mission, vision, values, and goals, step back and let the team innovate and achieve. If recruitment and training is functioning well, you should have a whole team of experts to turn to for advice.
- Delegate completely
Once you have delegated responsibility to someone, don’t interfere. One of the fastest ways to cause structural deterioration, foster confusion, and damage morale is to go around your direct reports. Team members need to respect the leadership at every level. If the senior leaders don’t respect the authority they have created, why would anyone else? Be available for questions and check-ins should they want to seek for your help, but don’t micro-manage.
- Be always positive
Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more. If mistakes have been made, accept them and move on to fixing them. Blaming others or even yourself is a waste of time, attention and energy. Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming excellent. Focus on learning from them, correcting them, and don’t allow team members to go on the defensive. A blame culture creates toxicity in environments, sabotages growth and individual careers so don’t allow it. This is a hard but important attitude to have as a leader.
- Be fair and just
Don’t take sides in arguments or for or against one person or group. Be the valued neutral point of fairness and justice and listen to all sides of an issue if your judgement is called for. Unbiased assessments of the pros and cons of an issue, where all sides are considered will lead to the best decision and the best outcomes. Be mindful of what you say, to whom, and who is listening. Do not be critical about people not present and certainly not about people present, with others in the room. Always show support for all team members. If someone needs extra guidance, provide it behind closed doors.
- Demonstrate integrity and technical competence
Do the work and know your trade. You don’t have to be the most advanced technician on the team, but you must have an in-depth understanding of your industry and your business. Leaders have many responsibilities, but it is important to work alongside your team. This is a great way to build trust and continue to develop your own knowledge and skills. Don’t be a person who says ‘Do what I say, not what I do’. Behave in ways that are coherent with what you advocate for others.
- Take care of yourself
Wellness and fitness are essential for good leadership. The more you take care of yourself, the more energy you will have and the better work you will do. Ensure you have a valuable life outside work. Demonstrate work-life balance. The only way to build a healthy environment is to have healthy people work there, so lead by example and demonstrate a healthy balance between life and work.
Healthy, sustainable environments in business are created by people for people. It means less mental ill-health and better emotional stability, as well as high retention for the organisation.
© Corporate Alchemy 2017