What contributes most to a positive workplace culture?

Deborah Wilson

Positive workplace

At OnTalent, we are always interested in better understanding people’s thoughts on the role of leadership in shaping and maintaining a positive workplace culture. Recently, we ran a poll on LinkedIn that looked like this:

What contributes most to a positive workplace culture?

  1. Leadership style and behaviour
  2. Transparent communication
  3. Employee engagement
  4. Team dynamics

Here’s what the respondents said: 

What 6 | OnTalent

In my view, it doesn’t matter what the poll results look like because in practice, all the above options contribute to a positive workplace culture. If I could only choose one option in answering the poll, I’d choose:

Leadership style and behaviour.

And to leadership behaviour, I’d add our leadership shadow (as in the leadership behaviours we don’t like to admit having). As leaders, we set the tone and our style and behaviours directly impact on people’s morale. It’s our responsibility to drive performance by making people care and by fostering trust within our team.

I can also easily make the case that transparent communication and employee engagement are elements of leadership style and behaviour. People should know where you stand with them at all times. If their performance is lacking, it’s best to have a direct conversation as soon as possible rather than wait for an annual performance review. Surprises don’t help you as an organisation/business or your people achieve goals.

A note about feedback

How we perceive feedback is important. While I understand some things may be difficult to receive, feedback is ultimately a gift. When we can give and receive constructive feedback, we start to appreciate workplace culture more. Consider this:

When a new leader enters an organisation/business, why is there typically a rise in turnover?

There are likely many contributing factors; however, leadership style directly impacts workplace culture.

Employee engagement

Leaders must give people a reason to care about what they do beyond simply being paid. Of course, money is important, but time after time we hear that it isn’t everything when it comes to employee satisfaction. Quality leadership is about having a vision and taking people with you. When people are engaged, they are more motivated to contribute, innovate and positively contribute to workplace culture. We must also remember that different generations require different approaches and desire different things from work. Typically, younger generations want a more inclusive culture. We must acknowledge that the workplace has changed and will continue changing.

Team dynamics

As for team dynamics, it takes all kinds of people to build a thriving environment. Some people in a team will get along better than others; that’s only natural. Conflict regarding work isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided it doesn’t become toxic. How we manage team dynamics as leaders is incredibly important. Having people who agree and think the same in a room rarely leads to the best possible results. In my experience, a diverse range of views where people can be appropriately challenged leads to the best outcomes.

Questions for reflection

I’ll leave you with some questions to reflect on:

  1. How would you describe your workplace culture?

  2. How would you describe your leadership style?

  3. How do you ensure your leadership style and behaviour are hitting the mark?

  4. Do you feel your leadership style will serve you and your business over the next five years?

Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose. Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746. 

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