If you want a positive work environment for yourself and your staff, then create it. That’s right. You, as the manager, can control to a large part your work environment. If your workers are griping and seem to work with clouds over their heads, change it. Find out why this is happening. Lead them out of the doldrums. It can happen!
As manager, you can (and should) set some basic standards for your team. Talk about them often. Enforce them always (by using power follow-ups). Make heroes of those living up to the standards. It takes some work and time, but it will worth it for everyone.
Think through the types of standards you could establish that would make your office a more positive place to work. Here are some ideas to prime your brain pump:
- Set the tone as the manager. Be positive yourself. Smile and laugh. Others will notice.
- Put the kibosh on gossip. State this clearly in a staff meeting. Make this a standard that everyone has to abide by. Nothing kills team spirit more than when members are allowed to talk disparagingly about others. If you hear gossip, walk up to the gossiper and say (this is a power follow-up), “Ok, we’ve talked about this. That kind of talk is not helpful. It’s hurtful. It needs to stop. While I can’t stop you from talking like this outside of work, while you’re here, that kind of talk is hurting our team. It stops now.”
- If the gossiper begins to say, “Well, look, you don’t know how bad they are at their job. Why, just the other day…”
- Interrupt them and say (power follow-up), “It’s not appropriate for us to be discussing the performance of someone else. Our team’s performance is my responsibility. If you want to talk about how you are doing at your job, I’m all ears.”
- If the gossiper persists, continue to be a broken record and repeat the above point. They will either clam up or they will want to talk about their performance.
Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s Chairman, has said, “Our mission statement about treating people with respect and dignity is not just words but a creed we live by every day. You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your members if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management.”
Your employees expect you to stand up for them. They expect you to make the office a safe place to be. They expect you to respect them and to insist that others mutually respect each other. You will gain much credibility by ending gossip. You will, however, lose your “stock value” as a manager if you allow others to bully their co-workers in word or deed.
Coming next: Model