How Do You Build Positive Culture in your Business?
This question comes in many forms. Challenges to a positive, collaborative team seem to arise every day. Whether it’s a co-worker not carrying their weight, the boss taking sides or another difficult customer, the struggle is real. It can be very difficult for business owners to get the positive work culture they would truly like to have.
The subject of one of our recent posts was “Marketplace Christianity,” which is a great segue to the subject of building positive culture in your business. The notion that our workplace should be a full reflection of our faith also lays the foundation for building and maintaining positive culture.
There are many principles of Christian living that directly address some of the most common causes of negative workplace culture. From both my own management experience and that of my clients, I believe a few items really stand out.
Make these three tenants of Christian Faith a priority in your business management, and you will see culture strengthen in a positive way.
- Care for your employees deeply
- Be forthright and communicate sincerely
- Discipline appropriately
Care for your employees deeply
“Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10
I don’t know many business owners or managers that would argue with the principle of caring for their employees. The problems I see come from a lack of evidence from the employee perspective. Left to their own imaginations, people will assume the worst of a given situation.
Be empathetic toward what individual employees may be feeling about how the business, including yourself and co-workers, care for them. Do not grumble to yourself or allow anyone else to grumble about how they should be grateful for the paycheck or the declining quality of work.
Do seek to understand how you can best treat them with respect and help them grow. Actively encourage everyone to do the same. Set the tone from the top. Let individuals know how grateful you are to have them around by your actions. Talk to them, recognize them, listen to them.
Be forthright and communicate sincerely
“Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen… Put away every form of hatred. Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.” Eph. 4:29-32
This is the most difficult practice; therefore, calls for the most prayer and focus. Note that you can’t communicate care sincerely if you skipped the first step and are full of bitterness, distrust or animosity toward another. It’s about your heart first, then what you communicate.
“Speak and act like people who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom. Those who have not shown mercy will not receive mercy when they are judged. To show mercy is better than to judge.” James 2:12-13
Communicate to everyone in your business with your full attention, giving them respect as a peer deserving of your time such as they are and speak openly without hidden agenda. Be as forthright as possible.
Where correction is required, give your employees and business partners the benefit of doubt. Don’t assume they are out to get you or are malicious in trying to hurt you with undesirable behaviors. Do assume there are basic misunderstandings and a need for good positive communication for clarification of what behavior is necessary.
“Hold on to what is good” and celebrate victories. Be generous with your praise of good behavior and performance.
Pro Tip: I’m not good at this so marking the calendar with a reminder has helped me greatly.
I believe it’s a bit tragic how the meaning of ‘discipline’ has drifted to such a negative connotation in modern western culture. It’s counterproductive. The following definition from Tyndale is a helpful way to view discipline.
Discipline: Learning that molds character and enforces correct behavior – from the Latin root meaning ‘instruction’ or ‘training’. To discipline a person or a group means to put them in a state of good order so that they function in the way intended. Bible translators chose “disciple” as an appropriate term for one who learns by following.
A critical element of Building Positive Culture in Your Business is having the environment in order. Chaos or disarray are destructive to positive culture. It’s helpful to view discipline by the Tyndale definition above where the perspective is from that of training and development.
Most people long for development and truly want to improve as they mature in business or personal endeavors. Viewed and executed properly, discipline can be received as a positive.
Positive and affective discipline should be a natural product of caring for your employees deeply and communicating sincerely on things that matter to you both. It’s how God calls us to Himself. Then, it is how we raise our children, so why not how we develop our business team on biblical foundation?
The rising priorities of GenX, GenY and Millenials for finding a sense of value in their work, just screams for us to connect on a more personal level than it seemed with Boomers of which I am one. Following these basic scriptural principles requires work but promises engagement between you and your team on a level of higher value than work tasks.
Come along side your team with caring and love. Be forthright and clear in your communication that is born of your caring. Train your team to rightly work through disputes and teach the team how to be in good order and work as intended.