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Don’t settle for a less-than-engaging work environment

4 min read


Is your workplace dull and frustrating, or is it engaging and inspiring?

This is a question I pose to leaders frequently. Most leaders pay more attention to the way their team is performing than to the way their team is operating.

A reader asked me recently about the nature of the “yes or no” answer I was forcing to this question. “What if your company culture is somewhere in the middle?”

My experience and research leads me to believe that most teams, departments, divisions, companies, etc., are somewhere in the middle of this continuum. Your experiences probably mirror mine — you probably see your team somewhere between those “extremes.”

What my experience and research also leads me to believe is that if your team (or department, etc.) culture is at any stage on that continuum that is less than engaging and inspiring, it’s costing you money, eroding team-member engagement and creating lousy customer experiences.

The only good place to be is to have a team culture that is 1) based on mutual trust, respect, and dignity AND 2) demonstrates trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction with peers, customers and even suppliers.

That’s a high standard to strive for! Is it worth the time and energy? Let’s look at some of the “logical consequences” that occur regularly in a less-than-engaging and -inspiring work environment. Note that “logical consequences” are things that naturally occur  in work and life. There are good and bad logical consequences. Here we’re looking at the impact that consistently occurs in work environments with less than full engagement and inspiration.

  • A lack of trust means people can’t depend on promises made. Commitments are not kept. Deadlines are missed. Quality suffers. People resort to over-managing activities and tasks to try to keep things on track. Time is wasted. Frustration mounts.
  • A lack of respect means that people are discounted. They are not included in plans, decisions, and actions that affect their livelihoods. People feel invisible, sometimes powerless, a cog in a machine.
  • A lack of dignity means that people’s efforts and accomplishments are not valued. Cruel remarks leave lasting pain.

Is there anything good you have seen that comes from the absence — or inconsistency — of trust, respect, and dignity? I have not heard of any, nor did I see any when I lived in such environments.

The reality is that these negative effects occur anytime there is a less than fully engaging and inspiring work environment.

What are the logical consequences of consistent, authentic engagement and inspiration in a workplace? The proof is apparent in three areas:

  • Increased team member engagement. Team members cooperate to contribute. They enjoy coming to work. They feel valued at work. They align their skills, talents, and enthusiasm to move the organization forward.
  • Increased customer service. Customers are consistently WOW’ed. Team members treat customers — internal ones and external ones — as valued partners. Team members proactively solve customer issues. They like their customers.
    • Increased profits. Engaged team members exceed goal expectations while living the team’s values. They proactively solve problems. They WOW customers. That translates into hard dollar benefits. Expenses are proactively reduced. Projects are done under budget and on time.

Where does your team’s work environment fall on this continuum? How well are peers and customers treated with trust, respect, and dignity? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

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My latest book, The Culture Engine, helps leaders craft workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get a free sample chapter here.

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