Saturday 18 November 2023

Positive Work Environment


I have written about efficiency (here and here) because I think it is very important to clarify the ways employees can deliver their tasks, obtaining not only the delivery of them but also not feeling a lot of professional frustration while performing them.

Well, all of my recommendations gather under only one umbrella – a positive work environment.

 

What is a positive work environment?

Firstly, a positive work environment is an environment where one is respected and respects. It may sound outdated, but I do believe that without respect nothing can be built. Absolutely nothing. For it is the base for understanding, empathy, and willing to help colleagues/ managers deliver a project.

Elements of a positive work environment

To my mind, these are the most important elements of a positive work environment:

 1. Clarity of tasks

When one knows who does what there is no room for interpretations or misunderstandings. And, if I may, no room for playing the to and fro game with the tasks.

 2. The flow of information

Miscommunication. When it comes to failure of delivery of projects or misunderstandings within the company/ within the team, everybody points to miscommunication as the main reason. Thus, the flow of information from executant to manager and the other way around is paramount.

 3. Established and clear procedures

Whether one is new or not in a company, one must deliver tasks according to procedures. If they are not documented somewhere at everybody’s reach, chaos descends. I recommend also documenting internal procedures for delivery of tasks within a department. We are human and we can forget or make mistakes, and this is why it’s golden to have a document that one can consult to make sure one follows the correct procedure. I have created a Communication Handbook that my team and I use and we make sure to update it any time a change in a procedure appears or new procedures appear.

 4. Feedback flow

Any work relationship has at least two parties – manager and executant. Like any normal relationship, both parties contribute with recommendations or they raise concerns to make the relation work on the long term. Is the same case with professional relationships, if feedback does not flow both ways, we fail to recognize what we should improve. I know it’s hard for an executant to provide feedback to a manager, but if a manager understands the importance of bringing efficiency into the relationship this should be encouraged. No one needs a yes-man if one wants a working relationship.

 5. Accountability and trust

I think there’s none without the other. When an employee engages to deliver a task and for various reasons that are under her/ his influence this task cannot be delivered, the employee has several possibilities to manage the situation (inform in due time about the delay so a solution can be agreed upon by the parties, use other resources, skip some steps to finish in due time, etc.) – and this is accountability. When someone is accountable, they show trust and will to find solutions, and this is a long-term assurance for the management (and a definite con to continue to micromanage).

 6. Flexibility

This is not about remote or hybrid work. Even though employers have realized in the past few years that they have more to gain if they show more flexibility regarding this aspect. This is in regards to flexibility when finding solutions, delivering tasks and making compromises so that the parties can deliver.

 7. Safe environment

At the start of my career, I thought that I, as an executant, was not to ask questions because I might disturb the manager. But with failures coming after not clarifying some aspects, I understood that it is far better to bother/ enoy the managers with questions so that I can clarify everything I needed, instead of delivering something that can hurt us both or the company. A safe environment is where one is not afraid to ask questions (because one knows that the manager understands that this shows respect and the will to accurately deliver the tasks) or to address concerns regarding aspects one considers that should be changed because they have proven their inefficiency.

 8. Growth mindset

Every day we learn something. Even the ones that do not go to trainings. Nowadays society is built this way, given all the technical developments. But aside from this, one must keep oneself up to date with what happens new in one’s domain, and also learn about changes in the related fields. When we learn something new, dopamine is released in our brain, and this makes us more optimistic and have more trust in ourselves and the future.

According to a video I recently saw about the reasons why young talents tend to leave faster than experienced talents, the conclusion is this – remember: if they don’t grow, they go!

 

I do believe in my very core that people are always searching to improve things (see what happens in technology, and in the other sectors). All of the above are the result of the conclusions I have drawn during my professional experience, corroborated with ideas, conclusions, questions received from like-minded people that also feel the need for change and want to support the perpetuation of the positive work environment. Only together we can become strong enough to make this change come true.

 

If you have read this far, I want to thank you. And make you a gift consisting of a couple of questions. I invite you to answer them below or to simply ponder on them. Either way, talk about this with your friends, family, colleagues and find out what does a positive work environment mean to you. And they, in their own turn, can speak to others. And this is how change happens, because it is not enough to only talk about it, we must also act.


Later addition

The other day, I spoke to a lady that used to work for an agency that I used to collaborate with while I was working for a different employer and that used to create visuals for us. The manager would only give one indication – it must be wow! Apparently, one would be tempted into believing that there’s a lot of creative spirit into this interjection. I beg to differ for an interjection cannot clarify what a person wants. And because the manager did not know what the final result should look like, the agency used to remake a lot the visuals. Until one day when the people from the agency realized how many resources they used in vain and how much time and effort was into the remakes. So they added a new clause to the contract, stating that the first two remakes were free of charge, but the starting with the third one the employer had to pay.

I remembered this aspect because, unfortunately, an employee cannot protect herself/ himself as an external collaborator can when it comes to remakes. Or, how a dear friend calls it, the work-in-vain cooperative. As a general rule, managers display the attitude ‘all the remakes are contained within your salary’ because employees are captive and being part of the manager’s team they will remake something as many times as the manager wants, with no explanations whatsoever, most of the times. And so I turn again to the idea of a positive work environment and to the fact that a manager must see to their executants and keep at low levels their frustration. When one works in vain and everything is directed to a big black hole, one feels frustration and loses the sense that their job can bring. I can’t stress enough how essential it is for an employee not to feel like this. 


What elements would you add to the list above?

What elements would you add to your work environment (from the list above, but also others) to make it (more) positive?

Who/ what impedes your work environment to become (more) positive?

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