Culture is like a garden, tend to it diligently with care and you will grow fine produce. Mistreat, ignore or poorly plan it and weeds will consume it. If you are a leader or an employee part of a team, it is important to play your part to develop a wonderfully positive culture.
It is your responsibility to set boundaries, define rules and influence a positive culture. Leaders direct actions have a profound impact on culture. For example, if a leader is always late to a meeting or is distracted during it, others will assume that behavior is ok, either subconsciously or consciously.
Setting boundaries for your teams help to focus a positive culture. You also want to create separation between work and life. Poor work/life balance can cause stress for work culture and sow the seeds for negativity. Setting boundaries between teams, circles of influence and work/life helps to guide your culture to a positive path.
Creating separations between work and life does not mean to ban non-work related discussions. You want to protect employee’s life activities from work activities. For example, setting a rule that only critical emails are to be sent after 6pm local office times. Actively discourage employees from answering emails after work. If they are too busy and must, reevaluate workloads and make adjustments as needed.
Define the rules clearly, bake them into your vision and value statements. They should be reinforced as part of everyday work and activities. You want to the rules to be more then a plague on the wall or inauthentic mottos. Teams will see right through that. Make them authentic and valuable.
Creating vision and value that authentically inspires employees is extremely difficult. Many times they are ignored or joked about, such as “drinking the Kool-Aide”. The key is to create vision and value that directly speaks to employees, purpose, and passions. You want them to truly feel like leadership cares about them, authentically.
Influence positive culture through your actions. The most important thing you can do as a leader is influence positive culture. Employees are always watching and take your actions as rules, even if they break the rules. It is critical that you are authentic and reinforce positive actions.
You have a significant role with a positive culture, you are a positive culture. A leader can influence and support a positive culture, but the employees make it regardless of the leader. You need to be the culture that you want to be part of. Taking part in negative gossip or taking other negative actions can create a negative culture.
Be authentic in the actions that you take. Make sure those actions support the kind of culture that you want to be part of. Even if the culture is negative, be a positive beacon as your actions can help craft a positive one. Work with your leadership to help influence, craft and nurture a positive culture.