There’s no doubt that narrowing down your organizational values and getting the right people is tough. However, putting less effort into what happens next would be resting on laurels that aren’t really there. What constitutes an engaging working environment that brings the best in people, makes them succeed and feel like a part of the team even when working remotely? Suggestions vary, yet some of them seem to point to similar intertwined ideas.
It’s all about safety
Simon Sinek, mentioned in our previous piece, emphasizes the importance and the overarching benefits of creating what he calls a safe working environment. Instead of constantly worrying about being punished for not performing to the set standards, in a safe working environment employees are not “abandoned” after their perceived failures but attended to. Amazing things happen, Sinek says, when companies truly believe in their people: “When we feel safe inside of the organization, we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths, and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize the opportunities.” His advice for companies is pretty straightforward: provide your team with more safety and they won’t slack; they will flourish (unless we’re talking about the app here).
A healthy feedback loop
Creating an engaging and safe workplace has a lot to do with the way feedback is processed at work: there can be little safety if feedback is something feared. Interestingly, best-selling author Dr. Brené Brown claims that a good workplace isn’t the one where people are fine with being asked ‘tough questions’ once in a while, but a workplace where discomfort of feedback is normalized. As an employee, you will accept that you will always have ‘growing pains’ of learning. As an employer, you will empower your team to grow through your feedback.
In her Leadership Manifesto, a list of healthy employee expectations from their workplace, Brown states: “Feedback is a function of respect: when you don’t have honest conversations with us about our strengths and our opportunities for growth, we question our contributions and your commitment.”
A win-win paradigm: no losers needed
The care and genuine desire to assist employees and provide them with valuable feedback all goes into what Stephen Covey, the author of Seven Habits of Highly Efficient People, calls the Win-Win paradigm.
It stems from abundance mentality: realization that life doesn’t have to be a win-lose case, and it is possible to engage in negotiations where both sides benefit in the end. It doesn’t have to be a competition; my win doesn’t have to be your loss. If leaders keep that in mind, and if they are able to listen with the intention to understand the other side, remarkable things can be achieved. Setting the goal to find a solution that will leave all sides satisfied is an extremely empowering paradigm to operate on.
It is by fostering cooperation, and not competition, that leaders create welcoming work environments where employees feel engaged and motivated. And even when the work itself is remote, the care and attention isn’t. If all team members feel they are a part of something, if they feel listened to and encouraged to grow, it’s pretty likely that they will stay. They will stay, grow and give their companies their best.