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3 Steps to Creating an Inspiring Workplace

Inspiration is not random nor just good luck. It can be nurtured every day, once you identify the loftier purpose of your company.
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Is your workplace environment lifeless and dreary or engaging and inspiring?

Your workplace might fall somewhere in between those extremes. And, if your workplace isn't consistently engaging and inspiring for employees, you're leaving money on the table.

Related: Where the Founders of Young Startups Find Inspiration

Safe, inspiring work environments consistently out-perform workplace environment that are tense, frustrating and anxiety-ridden. Our culture clients enjoy 40 percent gains in employee engagement, 40 percent gains in customer satisfaction, and 35 percent gains in profits.

Would significant gains in these areas inspire you to change what you pay attention to every day?

Many small business leaders put greater time, energy and thought into their company's products and services than into their company culture, yet culture drives everything that happens in their workplace, good or bad. Your company culture might  be healthy or not, but it's there just the same.

The benefits of workplace inspiration and employee engagement have been touted for years. What hasn't been touted is how a business leader can create workplace inspiration. The path to workplace inspiration resides in an organizational constitution that formalizes your company's purpose, values and behaviors, strategies and goals. It shifts company values from lofty, vague concepts to demonstrated, tactical practices by defining values in observable, tangible and measurable terms. Great corporate citizenship becomes as important as great results. 

The three steps to creating consistent workplace inspiration are:

1. Define your organizational constitution. Making money is vital to an organization's success but that isn't the primary focus of great companies, so begin the process of creating your organization constitution by defining your company's purpose, today, beyond making money. What is it's reason for being?

Then draft the values you'd like to see modeled in every interaction between and among leaders, employees and customers. Add observable behaviors to your values. Define what behaviors leaders and team members will model to ensure they're living your company values. Then write down your company strategies, the avenues you'll pursue in the next 12-24 months to take advantage of opportunities or deepen your relationships with customers. Finally, draft your goals and the performance targets that would define success for your company over the next year.

Share your "draft" purpose, values and behaviors, strategies and goals with your company's players. Seek their feedback on these elements. This will help build buy in for your organizational constitution.

Related: Inside 3 Inspiring Workplaces

2. Align to your organizational constitution. This step requires the most time, typically 18 to 24 months. Modeling and aligning players and practices to your organizational constitutution is what creates a consistently safe, inspiring workplace.

You and the rest of your company leaders must model the elements of your constitution, particularly the valued behaviors in every interaction. Only when leaders embrace your valued behaviors will these elements gain credibility in the eyes of your employees. When leaders have been consistently aligned to the valued behaviors for about six months, ask employees to demonstrate the valued behaviors in every interaction, as well.

You likely measure alignment to performance expectations daily. When you have an organizational constitution, you must also measure alignment to values expectations. Use an  employee survey that asks team members to rate their leaders on the degree to which those leaders model your valued behaviors. It will give you hard data regarding values champions and values failures. This data will enable you to hold leaders and, over time, team members, accountable for both performance and values.

3. Refine your organizational constitution. Every two years, revisit the elements of your organizational constitution. Your company purpose and values will likely be unchanged but your valued behaviors may need review. Your strategies and goals will very likely shift over time. Engage company leaders and team members in these discussions. Their perspective and involvement is vital. Refine the elements that require it, then go back to step two - align, align, align.

You're there, running your business, anyway. Why not create workplace inspiration? Start your culture refinement process with an organizational constitution. The gains you generate in engagement, service and profits will make everyone happy - you, your employees and your customers.

Related: Testing Your Values, Living Your Brand