On Tuesday, we talked about six core symptoms of destructive management that crush workplace optimism. Today we’re following up with more advice from Shawn Murphy, leadership consultant and author of The Optimistic Workplace: Creating an Environment that Energizes Everyone, on how to keep employee enthusiasm high.
He says, “You can position employees to believe that work is a bright spot in their life” and offers this critical advice:
The team is more important than any individual
It’s a fact of neuroscience: Our brains are wired to think about the thoughts, feelings and goals of other people. Working as a team to achieve desired outcomes makes people feel good about work. For optimism to be strong, a cohesive team is vital. Managers and leaders need to avoid relying on the usual suspects, the same few superstars, to handle high-profile projects.
There’s value to experiencing joy at work
Joy can open brains to better see connections and various options to solve work problems. In a joyful workplace, people are more likely to contribute their best. Expressing joy is simple. Give a proud smile when a team member does great work. Celebrate reaching key project milestones or momentous occasions in an employee’s life—buying a new house or having a baby, for example.
Doing good is good for business
It’s not just about philanthropy. When leaders adopt business practices that contribute to improving employees’ lives, business prospers. Do something crazy, for example, have an anti-workaholic policy. When team members have time to pursue personal interests, they are more productive and satisfied at work. Implement a policy banning team members from emailing one another about business on weekends.
Relationships with employees need to be richer
Relationships are central to cooperation, collaboration and successful outcomes. Take, for instance, the remarkable 2014 events at Market Basket, a 73-store grocery chain based in Massachusetts. When the board of directors ousted the company’s CEO and steward, Arthur T. Demoulas, in favor of his bottom-line driven cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, employees responded by orchestrating a massive boycott. Strong relationships between employees, suppliers and customers resulted in a collaborative effort that restored a beloved CEO and saved a company.
Work should align with purpose and meaning
Why does work matter to your team members? For workplace optimism to thrive, organizational leaders must strive to find the answer to that question and then continually invest in making sure that work remains meaningful. A focus on financial motivators blinds leaders from helping employees do work that matters.
Leaders need to actualize human potential
Luck Companies, an aggregate business headquartered just outside of Richmond, Virginia, believes, to quote CEO Charlie Luck, that “all human beings have extraordinary potential to make a positive difference in the world.” For Luck, this belief shapes how its leaders treat one another, develop their associates and spread the message globally. Actualizing human potential puts the spirit into workplace optimism inspiring business leaders to put this belief into action.
Shawn Murphy is CEO and founder of Switch & Shift, an organization dedicated to the advancement of human-centered organizational practices and leadership. Shawn has 20 years’ of experience working to cultivate optimism in workplace climates, as both a Fortune 100 company insider and an advisor to forward-thinking government agencies. When not consulting, he can often be found in the classroom teaching, speaking to audiences, or interviewing top thought leaders on his Work That Matters podcast.