“Businesses often forget about the culture and ultimately suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.”
– Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
An often overlooked aspect of developing a successful business is really taking the time to look at the employees, the work environment and the company culture. The fact is, if you have a disorderly, stressful, and hostile work environment, chances are that you have unhappy employees who don’t like coming into work every day. And the bold truth of it is that your business will suffer because of this. Whether it’s from a lack of work productivity and efficiency, poor customer service and follow-through, inattention to details and work quality, to unnecessary drama and chaos that ensues.
So, what are you to do?
As a business owner, whether you’re an estate planning professional or not, the important part is that you not ignore it. It’s your business that you worked really hard for, so why would you simply ignore something that may be so impactful to your company’s success (or failure)? It’s important that you lead by example and not be the cause of the chaos or disorder in your office. But, also, it’s important that you really take a look at your employees and find a way to build the team that you want working for you and that love your company as much as you do and who want to be there.
Here are some tips for developing a peaceful, collaborative and happy work environment in your office. Whether you’re the business owner or support staff members, take a look at these tips and figure out your part in developing such a place to work.
TIP #1: Don’t Be a Part of the Problem.
Office gossip, cliques and politics are all common in most businesses. Developing a happy, peaceful and positive work environment starts with your commitment to not be a part of the problem and choosing not to engage in these negative stressors. It can be difficult at times, but your commitment to not engage in these behaviors will make you neutral and people will learn to trust and respect you – – and follow your example!
TIP #2: Examine Your Own Behavior.
First and foremost, you need to be honest with yourself about your own behaviors and how you may be part of the problem. Do you put unreasonable demands and expectations on others in the office? Are you a perfectionist and constantly find yourself criticizing the work of others? Do you constantly need to have your way or be right? Do you overstep your boundaries and get involved in areas of the workplace that aren’t a part of your responsibilities? Whatever it may be and regardless of your position within the company, these types of negative behaviors will wreak havoc in the office, causing stress and discord with those you work with.
TIP #3: Develop Trust & Loyalty.
Trust between employees plays a huge part in a happy work environment. Trust is not something that comes naturally to many people, though. So, while you cannot force people to trust you, there are things that you can do to develop trust and loyalty between workers. One of the easiest ways is to follow through with your promises. If you say that you will have something done by X date, have it done by X date. If it doesn’t look like you may not have it done, communicate this in advance in a way where adjustments or solutions can be worked out. Another way to develop trust and loyalty is by taking ownership of your mistakes and mishaps. Everyone messes up, but nobody likes a finger-pointer in the office. Own up to your mistakes, learn from them and move on. People will learn to trust you through these simple actions you display day in and day out.
TIP #4: Be Aware of Others’ Needs and Show Empathy.
A lack of empathy is probably one of the biggest reasons most people in the workplace are unhappy. While everybody is different, we all have similar needs. For example, most people all desire to feel safe and secure in the workplace (both literally and figuratively). Additionally, people like to feel accomplished and rewarded for their hard work. People want to feel appreciated and valued. When these things are jeopardized, people begin to feel unfulfilled, neglected, under-valued, unappreciated and generally miserable. Who wants to work in a place like that? Nobody would! Be sure that you’re getting your needs met and that you’re considering the needs of others and how you might be able to help them feel those same needs you want are met, which brings me to…
TIP #5: “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.”
This quote from Mahatma Gandhi is one of my favorite quotes ever. Be the change you wish to see in the world. If you don’t like your work environment, then are you doing what you need to do to cultivate and support the kind of work environment you do want? And really, this quote can apply to other areas of your life. All too often we spend so much time trying to change the actions, behaviors, habits and feelings of others and it’s really a pointless battle because the only thing in this life that you truly have control over is your own behavior. As you continue to display behaviors that are positive and uplifting, people will be drawn to you and you will effectively lead by example. If those around you don’t change and your environment does not become something that you want, then it might be time to find a workplace that does (or if you’re the business owner, figure out what’s preventing your team from cultivating the culture you want and develop the right team members to support you and your business).
TIP #6: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help—Personally & Professionally.
Asking for help is one of the most difficult things for people to do. It’s often confused or mistaken for weakness, but the truth of it is, is that most people do need help from others. This applies both to your personal and professional life. If you aren’t seeing a change or aren’t sure how to overcome some personal issues that you may have, it might be beneficial to you to seek out the assistance of a psychologist or therapist who can help you work through them. Similarly, if you’re a business owner and you’re seeing a great deal of disorder in your company, it might be helpful to bring in an outside business coach to help you figure out where the breakdown is occurring and guide you through the process of resolving these issues in your business. Spending the time and money needed to get the help you need is time and money well spent. Even if all you did was resolve your personal conflicts, you will be a much healthier, happier person entering the workplace.
These tips might seem pretty simple and common sense. Frankly, that’s true of most of the tips we share about running a business. But, despite the simplicity of these tips, if it were truly so simple to implement, then there wouldn’t be so many office environments that are the complete chaotic messes that they are. Business owners spend a lot of time improving their professional skills and ways to improve the products and services they offer, but they overlook these important, integral parts of running a business – – the people they employ. Take one of the above tips that stood out to you the most and deliberately take time out of your day to focus in on the behaviors. If you continue to do this and develop these changes personally over time, you will begin to see a huge impact on your overall work environment and what might seem impossible, just became possible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristina Schneider is a Practice-Building & Marketing Specialist for The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University in 2004 and was hired right out of college to work for the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, coordinating and facilitating Philip Kavesh’s “Missing Link” Boot Camps while also providing administrative support to Mr. Kavesh as his Executive Assistant for over seven years. Through her direct hands-on experience in Mr. Kavesh’s law firm, Kristina has been able to assist numerous estate planning professionals through The Ultimate Estate Planner and, equally as important, many of their staff members, in the successful implementation of Ultimate Estate Planner’s products and systems.
You can reach Kristina at firstname.lastname@example.org.