I thought of this while reading a great column by Gregory Ramey in the Dayton Daily News. Dr. Ramey is Vice President for Outpatient Services at Dayton Children’s Medical Center and a child psychologist. Ramey lists behaviors to make a successful marriage. I think these behaviors can also make for a better workplace – and better leaders. Here is his list with my thoughts as to how each relates to the workplace:
Work hard. Workplace conflicts are common. Some conflict is good resulting in healthy competition for resources, clarity in priorities. But some conflict can become personal. People away from the job may have intrusive thoughts because of unhealthy work relationships. Sometimes these can escalate to people not talking, even sabotaging another’s work. One of the toughest tasks a leader faces is when to intervene, how to intervene. Working hard at healthy workplace relationships seems smart business.
Talk about things that matter. We can be so wrapped up in just reacting in our day-to-day work life that we are rarely proactive. When is the last time your organization took time to talk about, discuss the core values of your culture, what you are trying to do. Do you have real two way communication? Is the open door really open? Do the employees in your organization have the big picture, understand how their contributions matter? Most of us want more than a paycheck. We want meaningful work. That may not be clear unless we talk about how people and positions matter – and act.
Be nice. You probably know people in the workplace who are nice – and perhaps a few who are not. Imagine a workplace where everyone is nice and gets along. Being nice has another benefit. In my opinion it is an easy way to build personal power. Nice people do small favors to help others through their day.
Celebrate life. I blogged about this last year, celebrate the moment. We get too busy to celebrate the small things, the “thanks”, “nice job”, and such. Leaders can set the example here. Celebrate individual and organizational achievements. Value the individual through words and employee-friendly policies.
Argue gently. Why raise your voice? Why let anger play a role? Respect. The best of friends can disagree, have different opinions, different solutions. Ramey said not to ignore problems “but deal with them in a respectful way with lots of compromise and communication . . . focus on coming up with acceptable solutions.”
Fight boredom. I see this is an issue for leaders and managers. Do you know which jobs are boring, which tasks? Herzberg identified years ago that work itself can be motivating, that jobs can be redesigned, enriched, enlarged, given more variety to make more meaningful. Not everyone wants job enrichment but bored workers will be less satisfied workers. If you have positions that are intrinsically boring, what can be done to alleviate some of that boredom. Job design may help.