Leadership: Strategies for creating positive organizational culture

Thank you to guest blogger Rae Steinbach

Great success of the company

Many of us display a tendency to focus on what went wrong and what tasks are left incomplete in a given situation. Even when we make considerable progress toward our objectives, the elements that could have been performed better tend to be highlighted. While this is a condition of human nature, those seemingly lost opportunities have the potential to negatively impact workplace culture.

Company leaders must recognize this tendency to focus on the negative and the ways it can damage morale and erode company culture. When leaders fail to recognize this fact and take action to reinforce positivity in the workplace, they end up with a negative culture by default.

Typically, the root cause is a lack of communication in the workplace. Although management may participate and maintain annual performance evaluations or encourage an open door policy, these activities do not guarantee effective internal communication nor a positive company culture. The following outlines why organizational culture matters and provides a few key strategies for how to create and foster improved communication to establish a positive workplace.

Why positivity needs to be reinforced

We, as humans, have evolved to display a bias toward negativity. In the environment of our ancestors, this bias was beneficial as it provided a focus on elements that represented a threat to survival. In the modern context, we are not as directly exposed to the same threats. However, the negativity bias remains which is why negative news stories get more attention and why political attack ads tend to be more successful than positive campaigning.

Where no deliberate effort to promote a positive company culture exists and given our tendency to focus on the negative, company culture tends to shift towards the negative. If a negative company culture is allowed to flourish, the affect on employee engagement may impact productivity.

Avoiding negativity is good. However, the benefits of establishing a positive company culture must be examined. Companies that posses a positive culture tend to be more profitable and retain employees that are more frequently engaged and more productive. Collateral benefits include employees spending less on average on healthcare and employees logging fewer sick days.

A positive culture depends on communication

Communication makes a big difference when creating a positive company culture. Leaders must develop systems for regular feedback and schedule time for staff communication.

A positive initial mission for managers is to schedule regular staff communication meetings. Weekly employee check-ins and one-on-one meetings allow employees to provide regular feedback which can be addressed in a timely manner. A weekly meeting gives your employees the time they need to voice any concerns and provides managers with an opportunity to give constructive feedback.

Additionally, management must ensure that employees receive recognition for their work. When people receive feedback only on what went wrong, a negative culture is reinforced. Managers need to be supportive, provide recognition for a job well done, and demonstrate appreciation for both the regular and outstanding effort delivered by employees. 

Effective communication is a key to building a positive company culture. With modern HR technologies, leaders can automate and streamline many of the necessary communication functions in the workplace. Systems for regular feedback and recognition make it much easier to maintain a positive workplace culture where employees are more engaged and more productive.

Original article by Rae Steinbach.  Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course. @araesininthesun

Edited for Maestro's audience by Richard A. Wale, Maestro Quality Inc.