Creating a culture of truth and trust is a daunting task at the corporate level. At Actualize, we have done so by adding small “infusions” (manageable positive changes over time) to our culture over the years. With each new program or change away from the status quo, our teams began to work better together with more collaboration. Our employee satisfaction and the tenure of our teams improved.
As I started to witness the positive impacts, I was motivated to continue with new programs and ideas to enhance our workplace environment. What I have found over the last 11 years of focusing on our people is to re-evaluate each year to keep things fresh, but do so with an underlying intention of respect and key ingredient of trust. To ensure your culture supports and actively listens to the requests of your employees, it is important to do the following:
- Seek Input: Employees who have an active role in shaping the future of the firm will be happier with the results of changes or new initiatives – and feel like their voice has been heard.
- Allow Good and Bad News: Establish a protocol for sharing information. For example, have your team send an email with the news, whether good or bad, and then schedule time to follow up with time to process before discussing.
- Leverage Problem Solving: Coach your team and encourage brainstorming to aim for solution-based teamwork.
- Keep Your Door Open: Encourage your people to come to you at any time. We always mention this policy early in the recruiting process to ensure our new hires know they can come to anyone in the organization for help or questions.
- Check-In: Make sure you have a pulse on everyone on your team. If you have not spoken with someone in a while, schedule time to chat and catch up both personally and professionally.
No matter what you do or how you operate, it is important to lead from a place of genuine care and respect. Of course, not everyone will be receptive to organizational changes even when you implement best practices like those listed above. As long as you are being authentic in your leadership style and striving to be as supportive as possible, you are leading with intention and doing your best.
I recently took time to check in with the team; while many were honest, some were not transparent about their plans to seek alternative employment. I always encourage people to share what they are thinking, even if it might seem negative or suggest they desire a new role. Whether they stay at Actualize or move to a different firm, I know how important it is to feel inspired and passionate about the work you do. And when they trust us enough to share their plans, we can possibly work it out. Whatever happens, it always works out as it should. Our employees will always have my support.