Working with clients this past year, I have noticed a big upswing with people feeling less secure in their work environments. Many times this feeling has less to do with job cuts but rather reflects the culture and climate that leadership conveys. Are you leading your team with confidence and clarity? Are you self-aware and willing to develop others? Are you willing to expose your own vulnerabilities in order to establish deeper and more productive work relationships? When we lead from both a strategic and relationship-building vantage point, we can create a safe place for our work world. So how do we go about developing such a trusting and transparent culture?
- Learn more about each other’s differences: Each person on our team brings their unique talents and gifts to the workplace. The challenge for leaders is to help empower each team member to share their skills and knowledge while appreciating others’ different strengths. One way to do this is to set aside an “Appreciation of Talent” day. Ahead of that day, each person would complete a personality inventory, such as Myers-Briggs. Using a facilitator, an open discussion could take place where the team is debriefed on the different personality types- strengths and blind spots. Then, take the time to understand what makes each person “tick” and what really motivates them. Understanding the best ways to connect with different people can foster acceptance and high achievement. There is nothing better than feeling valued and nothing worse than feeling misunderstood.
- Improve communication: Great leaders know that communication is the “oil” that makes a team run well. One of elements of clear communication involves listening with the intent of true understanding. Often when teams face conflict, it is because expectations are not clearly communicated. Leaders can have each team member share their expectations with each other. Give everyone an opportunity to share and ask:
- These are the things I need from you.
- What are the things you need from me?
- How can I make your job better for you?
- Free up positive energy: How much time do you waste dwelling on negative feelings? Sometimes we let our negativity rule our day and we leave work feeling so unproductive. Negative energy can be debilitating. Try reframing your mindset and focus your energies on more positive actions. If we can identify the gifts that each of our team members brings to our projects instead of targeting their weaknesses, we will feel better and help cultivate a “safe” work environment. No one is perfect and we all have areas we just are not particularly strong. Positive leadership is contagious and can turn a volatile team into a high performing one.
How safe is your work world? What do you do to make your team feel secure and valued?