What makes a workplace great? All great work cultures aren't alike. Some feature free-wheeling innovation and creativity, while others require a higher degree of routine. Some are loud and noisy, others more quite and subdued. But, great workplaces have many identifiable - and achievable - commonalities. Following are some of those commonalities and suggestions to achieve them:
Talent: People get to use their greatest strengths and Highest Talents. Their highest talents are the most important contribution they make to their workplace. What can you do? Identify people's highest talents and get them in positions where their highest talents are needed, used and valued.
Career and Professional Development: Leaders care about the development of others and show it. Formal and/or informal systems are in place to support learning and career advancement. People are provided opportunities and encouragement to continuously grow. What can you do? Encourage mentoring and teach people how to delegate and supervise in ways that match individual's learning and career growth with the needs of the firm.
Self-Direction: People have some degree of control over the work they do, the projects they work on, the people they work with. Complete control isn't necessary (or likely), but people respond positively to choice. What can you do? Identify what must be done, what must be done in specified ways and where flexibility can be accommodated. Allow or accommodate flexibility where feasible.
Purpose: People believe their work contributes to a purpose bigger than themselves. Purpose doesn't require not-for-profit status, but can include examples like: "serving the integrity of the legal system;" "helping families create, protect and distribute wealth;" "building a stable, enduring law or accounting firm." Each example is bigger than self and can provide motivation and satisfaction for work well-done. What can you do? Think, talk and act in big terms about the purpose(s) your firm serves.
Shared Values: People share the same core values. It's possible to live and work by an unspoken set of values, but ideally core values are identified, communicated and embodied throughout the firm. When behavior inconsistent with the values of the group is tolerated or worse - engaged in by firm leaders - morale suffers, the workplace is no longer great and performance and profitability soon slide. What can you do? Identify and agree upon shared firm values, communicate them throughout the firm and hold yourself and others accountable to live those agreed-upon values.
Expectations: People know what is required of them and they have the necessary tools and support to accomplish what is expected of them. They're sufficiently challenged, yet not overwhelmed by their work expectations. What can you do? Identify what's expected of everyone (example: adhering to firm values), of groups of individuals (example: the path to partnership) and of individuals in specific roles (example: roles and responsibilities of your bookkeeper) and communicate those expectations clearly. Learn and provide the tools necessary to fulfill expectations. Teach supervisors to delegate and communicate expectations effectively.
Communications throughout the firm are clear, direct and consistent. What can you do?
Learn, train and hire for effective communication skills. For additional information, go to Talk to (Really) Be Heard
The above list is not exhaustive, but provides you with both the reason and the means to improve your workplace environment. For enjoyment and profitability, you can make your firm, "A Great Place to Work."