Establishing a cultural norm that connects employees to one another and inspires a drive for greater achievement must be viewed as a fundamental for long-term, sustained success.
Cultures that are rich in meaning manifestation generate feelings of significance, genuineness, belonging and expanding personal potential. Study any Great Workplaces list, and you’ll uncover the three elements that the most meaning-rich cultures have in common: caring, authenticity and teamwork.
Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, says, “Treat employees as if they make a difference, and they will.” Building a core of caring will most certainly unlock newfound levels of inner-connectedness among employees. It will also elevate morale as well as deliver returns for the company. The
creation of a caring culture requires the five components of caring:
1. Family unit — not a military unit: The military’s arm’s-length approach doesn’t really work in the business world if you want to create meaning-filled connections and maximize elevated performance over the long haul. Thinking and acting like a family unit, where relationships
and connections are a priority, is a better way.
2. Rewards and recognition done right: Only the imagination limits the number of ways to recognize and reward someone. It’s about the meaning behind the reward. Employees are looking for meaning, not things. Personalize it, and get everyone in on the act. Be frequent
but not frivolous. Celebrate first downs and touchdowns. Think through the delivery with attention to detail.
3. Respect: Workplace incivility is a barrier that stands in the way of optimal performance. Respectful interactions and recognition of others, always and with everyone, is a foundational bedrock.
4. Work-life harmony: We only have one life, and work is part of it, so harmony among the two is undeniably worth the pursuit. Helping others (and yourself) make progress toward achieving work-life harmony involves being intentional, holistic and specific in your approach.
5. Personal well-being: You care about your family members’ personal well-being. Are they getting enough exercise and sleep, eating properly, taking good care of themselves? Why shouldn’t the same questions be of concern to you for your work family?
Authentic behavior binds human beings to one another, and it is deeply satisfying for those conducting and receiving. It helps reinforce self-identities and creates bridges to a sense of belonging. As managers and workers, we can promote feelings of authenticity in the workplace in three basic ways:
1. Being where you belong: When people aren’t intrinsically engaged by their work, they feel inauthentic. If employees aren’t succeeding or aren’t a good fit, it may be time for a tough but liberating discussion.
2. Being true to yourself: When we act in a manner consistent with our values and beliefs, it produces a deep sense of meaningfulness. We find meaning in situations and people that are real. Work is a vehicle through which we can share our unique talents, creativity and creations. Be true to beget true.
3. Conducting yourself in an authentic manner: Disingenuous behavior has a way of surfacing and revealing itself. Nothing is more transparent than when someone’s not being transparent. And the effects can be devastating.Adhering to a code of conduct for authenticity is one helpful way to ensure the right behaviors are always top of mind.
Teamwork creates a sense of pride, fellowship, camaraderie and loyalty. Being cared about by teammates is a strong predictor of engagement. Teamwork enables relationships to form and nurtures a sense of connection and belonging. Indeed, meaning is not just derived from how individuals relate to their work but also from how individuals relate to each other.
Teamwork enables interdependence. Organizations and managers adept at fostering world-class teamwork very intentionally drive a sense of mutual interdependence to pull a loosely connected group into a tight-knit unit. You can facilitate the same sense of inter-dependency in your place of work. It requires understanding the kind of team goals that foster inter-dependency, being attentive to the impact that team deliverables and role definitions can have on fostering a sense of inter-dependency, and spelling out specific expectations for interdependent behavior.
A team environment where everyone is working well together serves as a shared learning lab where people are comfortably learning from one another through the sharing of experiences, wisdom and role modeling. Great teams producing great results make people feel as if they
matter on a team that matters. This feeds into sustained heightened performance, which leads to more meaning and more fulfillment. Teamwork is also the most direct contributor to the ultimate cultural end-state: achieving a sense of community.