How to build a better workplace culture 101
Updated: Sep 22
When is the last time you enjoyed a good laugh with your colleagues. I mean one of those deep rooted belly laughs that brings you watery eyes and sore cheeks along with some irresistible nourishing fun. Maybe you can remember a time where playing harmless pranks on each other provided impactful team building exercises. Compassion with a light hearted attitude and a recognition for much needed human interaction, it was at that time where there was no line between work life and personal life. It was simply living.
I was at a speaking engagement recently when an individual, who had just been promoted to a new section within her department, was told that employees are encouraged to NOT speak to one and other. I’m sure the look on my face would have stopped a train.
Here I was speaking on the benefits of relationship building and conflict resolution, and I became speechless upon hearing this reality in some workplaces. I will admit that that one kept me up at night. I had to journal the questions down as fast as they were piling up in my mind with the hopes of finding answers in today’s research:
What happened to being curious?
Where does employee engagement fit in to an area where conversation is frowned upon?
How can anything be built together when nobody is listening, much less asking questions?
When employees are afforded opportunities to socialize with one another, higher quality relationships are more likely to develop, which can open the door for the exchange of ideas.
What I found in the research included the results of Google's quest to build the perfect team. It emphasizes that psychological safety is what is needed before anything else along with the need for employees to interact both inside and outside of work.
The foundation of building a community starts with one conversation. To help make that happen, employees need to feel supported to welcome each other into the team and engage in fun practices at work. This along with planned celebrations outside of work can both promote collaboration and enhance a sense of belonging.
See the article, ‘Does fun promote learning?’, which goes into detail on how the relationship between fun in the workplace and informal learning can be tied together.
Psychological safety is a concept that incorporates the value of human connection needed for a thriving innovative workplace culture. It allows for feedback and recognition between employees to build on self-efficacy and with that productivity will take care of itself.
Having a safe environment where you can speak up, offer new ideas, and ask questions? With conversations being a must for employee engagement, where there is no conversation, there is no culture. Additionally, speaking up and asking questions is only one part of the conversation. Listening with compassion and curiosity is the other. It is a necessity to keep those conversations alive by making the person speaking feel comfortable, safe, and valued.
Being an effective listener is crucial for continuing engagement and building healthy relationships within teams.
...when your team feels psychologically safe you can take risks and be vulnerable with each other, so you’re not afraid to speak up and offer new ideas or ask questions.
Benefits of listening with genuine intent to hear what another person wishes to share with you builds on gaining perspective, remaining curious, and gives you an understanding of what is happening around you. With this trait, it gives you the best start at leading your team toward a common goal while enhancing performance and learning from each other.
A foundation of psychological safety starts with open honest dialogue where curiosity is mentored and explored. Listening effectively is part of providing that psychological safe environment needed to build productive teams that are sought after in today’s companies.To me, that makes perfect sense.
For more on the benefits of effective listening check out this great write up on what great listeners actually do.