Do your employees have hope that good things will come from their hard work? "Good things" is subjective. Typically, however, it refers to feeling optimistic about personally benefiting and seeing others benefit from doing your best work. This is the hallmark of an optimistic workplace.
When workplace optimism is present, employees believe in possibility rather than idolizing problems. Coinciding with possibility is curiosity about how to solve a problem. Idolizing a problem looks like complaining without acting to solve it.
Employees in optimistic workplaces are thrilled by the positive environment. Relationships are strong. Trust runs deep. High performance is common.
What, then, can a leader do to bring about an environment of optimism? Here are 10 tips; most cost nothing other than an investment of time and a commitment to people and results.
Learn your employees' strengths. Strengths-based leadership focuses on aligning employee strengths and their work. Strengths in this sense is about doing energizing work.
Get to know the whole employee. One of the reasons Google is a top employer is 85 percent of their employees believe their immediate leader is interested in them as a whole person, not just an employee. Learn what your employees' passions, hobbies, and goals are outside of work.
Let employees "in" on things. A strong incentive to do great work is to ensure employees are aware of, and can give input on, topics important to them, their livelihood, motivation, and future.
Check the "pulse" of the office daily. Don't wait for an annual survey to understand the vibe of your company. Do daily or weekly pulse checks about how employees are feeling or view the company. A great tool for this is Office Vibe.
Define and align with your purpose. Less than 20 percent of leaders know their personal purpose. These leaders struggle with health issues and show inconsistency in their leadership style. For workplace optimism, define your purpose and align your actions and words to it. It's inspiring to be around purpose-oriented people.
Offer flexible work arrangements. Four out of five employees say work flexibility is important when considering a new job. Yet, only less than one in five have work flexibility. Work flex is a talent strategy offering employees options for when and where they work.
Hold regular one-on-ones. Learn about your employees' work experience. Know what barriers are in the way of progress. These are but two focus areas for regular--weekly or twice a month--discussions with each person on your team. You create workplace optimism when you encourage positive, results-oriented actions by staying in regular communication with your employees.
Set team goals. Clarity is like oxygen in an optimistic work environment: it generates energy; it is essential for life. Goals help create clarity, focusing people's attention on what's important. Don't just set individual goals. Set team goals that build in accountability to each other. Monitor team progress towards goals as a team. Make it fun. Goal clarity has a positive affect on the health of the organization and its employees.
Offer tours of duty. Co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, explains the concept of tours of duty in his book The Alliance. Hoffman and his co-authors say this about tours of duty: "[They] focus on honorably accomplishing a specific, finite mission." Employees go to different areas of the business and contribute their talents to help the business area succeed in some way. Enrich your employees' work life by helping them deepen their understanding of the business and their skills and strengths. This also helps position employees for advancement within the company, raising their visibility and credibility.
Know and show your values. Most of us can't definitively name what our personal values are. Going a step further, most can't define them either. Knowing your personal values guides your actions and decisions. They help you to be more consistent in your leadership and relationships. Identify and define your values. Help your employees do the same. Luck Companies, advocates for values-based leadership, have a fantastic, free tool to help you identify your values. Watch their video on values to deepen your awareness of this important leadership insight.
We spend most of our day at work. As a leader, you're positioned to make that experience a positive one. It begins with you shaping the work environment to be optimistic. Help people experience the hope that comes with knowing great things will come from their hard work.