7 Ways to Enhance the Human Side of Your Business Culture



We all want to know that we make a difference, that we have something to offer.

I’ve been struck recently by someone near and dear to me who has entered work in the corporate world. He’s a highly motivated, bright and engaging individual with significant business experience and an MBA from a well respected university. This is how his first few weeks have gone in his new job:

A couple of weeks before starting this new job, he wrote to the administrator in the department to ask about logistics for his first day of work – where should he go, who should he report to, what time should he arrive. Since the email reply he received didn’t answer his questions, he wrote back the day before he was to start. He was told to refer to the first email, which had no response to any of his questions.

The day he arrived, no one greeted him. While he knew who his supervisor was, he knew that person would not be available to him. He didn’t know where to sit or who to contact to figure out what he should work on. No one offered to explain anything, answer questions, or teach him anything. No one has time for him.

The group sits in one area, but there wasn’t room for another desk there. There was one desk behind a pillar all by itself. That’s where he was asked to go.

We all want to know that we make a difference, that we have something to offer.

In response to his request to be productive, engage, and learn, one person on the team has given him “work”. The work consists of making cosmetic changes to documents (font sizes, incorporating hand written edits from others into documents).

The edits in these documents are extensive and have required him to be at work until 2:30 AM, midnight and weekends regularly.

He enlisted the perspective of a high level executive who told him he needs to understand his role and accept the organizational hierarchy adding, “You are going to get crap dumped on you.”

He can sometimes hear people talking and engaging with each other, but he’s too far away to participate or hear what anyone is saying.

He gets no thanks or recognition for the work he is doing.

Many people might react to this situation by disengaging or even leaving their jobs. The lack of camaraderie, human interaction, compassion, and meaningful work all take a toll.

It wouldn’t take much to make a difference and change the culture. A change in culture would likely lead to more engaged and productive employees who are enthusiastic about the mission, committed to the work, and who are likely to stay in the long term. Here are 7 steps for creating a human-centered culture where employees thrive.

A change in culture would likely lead to more engaged and productive employees who are enthusiastic about the mission, committed to the work, and who are likely to stay in the long term.

1. Engage and take interest

It takes very little time to give eye contact, smile, engage, or ask how someone is doing. Any one of those actions could make a huge difference to feeling a part of something and to becoming a team member.

2. Clarify

Set employees up for success. Give an overview of the organization or team and explain how the work the employee will be doing fits into that vision. Include an explanation of the organization’s values and principles – and model those values. Share information about the projects that the team is working on and explain how each part fits together. Provide an explanation for how the team is structured. Give details of the specific job roles and responsibilities. Gaining clarity of organizational and personal goals helps employees know how to meet or exceed expectations.

3. Mentor, supervise, teach

Make sure someone on the team has the job of offering supervision and support. It can be empowering to figure things out on our own, but it’s reassuring to know there is someone there to answer questions, offer support, give feedback and support growth.

4. Meaningful work

We all want to do work that has meaning. Even though there may be aspects of any job that might not be appealing, there are many ways to encourage empowerment, creativity, and ownership that make any job more worthwhile and meaningful. Even completing menial tasks can become more fulfilling when employees understand why those tasks are important to the mission of the organization.

We all want to do work that has meaning.

5. Encourage openness

It’s important to have a voice and to be heard. If you want employees to take ownership and feel a part of the team, it’s important to hear from them and demonstrate that you take their ideas seriously.

6. Strengths alignment

Confirm that the tasks of the job are aligned with the skill sets and strengths of the employee. Each of us has our own unique gifts, talents and strengths. Mismatching those skills can cause frustration and lack of productivity. Seeking to understand what’s working and what isn’t can be beneficial to assuring that employees are productive and using their strengths to benefit the organization. Note: This does not mean that the organization not request work to be done that is outside the employee’s comfort zone, skill set, or expertise if that’s the work that needs to be done. It also doesn’t mean that the employee might benefit from stretching and growing. An organization that works to find alignment between employee and the organization is demonstrating a commitment to the employee’s success and growth.

7. Appreciate and acknowledge

It takes so little to say “thank you for all your work” or “I appreciate your commitment and the long hours you have been putting in.” Those words can make a huge difference.

Consider the people who work for and with you. Are they being set up for success? If you don’t know, you might stop by to ask them.

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Image credit- jameschipper / 123RF Stock Photo

Margy Bresslour is the Founder of Moving Messages, a company dedicated to encouraging the expression of appreciation. Moving Messages works with organizations to create a positive and productive culture where employees feel valued and are fully engaged, and where customers and clients love doing business. Margy offers consultation, coaching, and mentoring that develop individuals who thrive, cohesive teams that enjoy working together, and organizations that get rave reviews and improved outcomes.

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