6 Ways to Cultivate a Supportive Work Environment
In my career, I have been fortunate to work, more times than not, in teams with people who were supportive and nurturing. When this type of environment is found, I felt I was on the “dream team” and that “all things were possible because we were in it together.” Not having this support can be a drain on morale as people feel they have to “watch their backs” or “play the game of office politics.”
Organizations can cultivate a supportive environment by implementing, reinforcing and rewarding the following behaviors:
Assume Positive Intent
I truly believe that most people want to do the right thing. By believing that, then it’s easy for me to first assume positive intent when I may not understand why someone did something, or why they have a different viewpoint or opinion than me.
Seek to Understand
If you don’t understand or agree with something, ask questions with the intent to truly understand rather than to judge.
Treat Others with Respect
It is imperative that we all treat each other with respect. Name calling, gossiping about each other and other types of bullying are counter to our culture.
Accept that There Will be Differences
One of the things I love about working in my current role is the ability to professionally discuss differences of opinion with my co-workers, and then brainstorm solutions that are in the best interest of the organization, rather than considering only my personal beliefs. This happens regularly between me and other members of the leadership team. While we don’t always agree, we know we have a safe place to offer our points-of-view.
Treat Feedback as a Gift
If someone is giving you feedback, positive or developmental, consider it a gift. If they didn’t care about you as an individual and teammate, they wouldn’t tell you how to improve; they would simply let you fail. Compliment your teammates when they learn new skills, exceed customer expectations, and generally do well, so they keep exhibiting those behaviors.
Don’t Let Your Teammates Fail
Give feedback in a respectful, professional way. Escalate situations if necessary to your managers so they can hear your concerns and step in, if appropriate. Call out behaviors that are counter to the principles, and explain ways to do things better and/or behave differently.
Organizations must be vigilant in calling out behaviors that undermine these principles so they can continue to nurture the supportive culture they want for their employees.
Where can you improve to be a better teammate?