Is your company culture positive?

When it comes to your workplace, don’t just think positive: create a positive culture.

A company’s culture dictates the interactions that take place between bosses and subordinates, as well as between peers. How this culture is managed and nurtured is important, but all too often forgotten about.

In The Bully Trap I point out that cultures can be defined as Dictatorial, Disjointed or Stable.

Let’s talk about stable cultures first, as that is the type of workplace culture that is most likely to be positive for its employees.

In stable cultures there is a governance model that looks beyond financials and creates common values and purpose for its employees. Rules regarding the workplace environment are clear and fair.

The accountability of everyone for his or her conduct, from bosses down to new hires, makes the workplace more productive, happier and creates –you guessed it– a positive culture.

When people are happy to be at work they are more likely to do good work. It is just that simple. 

It should go without saying that one of the key components to being happy at work is to feel safe while you're there. The best way to feel safe is to like and trust your fellow workers, but also to know that should a problem arise that it would be dealt with transparently, fairly and in a way that helps perpetuate the positive working environment.

Of course this isn’t always the case. In dictatorial cultures, for example, the boss dictates rules and judgements, expects blind obedience and scapegoating or backstabbing are commonplace instead of accountability. It is not hard to see how workplace bullies can thrive in these cultures –either as bosses or workers.

In positive work environments those who do the best work tend to excel, in dictatorial ones people who manipulate and strong arm their co-workers are the most likely to move ahead.

Disjointed cultures, on the other hand, are a little harder to pin down. Whereas in dictatorial cultures everything is hierarchical, disjointed cultures have silos of influence and there are too few checks and balances as to how people in one silo are acting in another. It is probably most common in organizations that have regional offices, but it can occur in any bureaucratic institution when there are not consistent rules put in place across the board.

In organizations such as these it can be difficult to maintain a positive work culture because bullies will take advantage of the organization’s blind spots in workplace policy for their own ends. This lack of structure, inconsistency in policy and ambiguity in performance management can lead to a cover-up mentality for ‘bad apples’ within one silo or another.

While positive cultures can be found within disjointed organizations, they are difficult to maintain. Employees need to know that there is a type of conduct expected from all employees that stays consistent across the whole organization in order to truly feel safe in their workplace.

But what do you think? Is your workplace culture positive? How best can someone encourage positivity in the workplace?