Building a positive workplace culture boosts employee wellness and leads to better results. Let’s look at how to counter the company culture problems that hold your organisation back.

At Great Managers, we say that being a manager is all about results. And you can only get results through your people, so their happiness must be one of your prime concerns.

A toxic culture in the workplace does more to hold your organisation back than you might realise. But if you act deliberately, you can create a more positive workplace and improve results.

Being a Manager is all about results, and you can only get results through your people. #greatmanagersmantras

You need to build a positive workplace

Do your team dread Mondays?

A great company culture makes employees want to work for you. They’ll look forward to going to work, deal with less stress, and be more productive.

As a leader, you have a direct influence on your workplace culture.

Wield that influence to cure company culture problems and encourage positive workplace behaviours.

Here are ten ways to build positivity in the workplace.

Build a Positive Workplace #1 – Be Grateful

A good salary isn’t enough to keep today’s workers happy.

People want to feel appreciated in the workplace. Their results suffer if nobody cares about their contributions.

Simple acts of gratitude encourage positive workplace behaviours. A word of appreciation and a thank-you go a long way toward helping employees to feel valued.

You’ll create an undercurrent of positivity, which will shape your team.

Showing gratitude also brings out your own positive qualities. You’ll develop respect for your team, and they’ll trust your judgement.

This mutual appreciation keeps all of you working toward the organisation’s objectives. That’s far preferable to engaging in petty squabbles born from resentment.

Be quick to compliment team members for good work, and use random acts of kindness to show your team your gratitude.

As a thank-you, you could, for instance, buy lunch for the team on a particularly busy day.

Build a Positive Workplace #2 – Play to Employee Strengths

Nobody wants to feel like they’re not contributing to the team.

But that’s what can happen when you don’t give them tasks that play to their strengths. Confidence drops, and soon enough employees start to resent the idea of coming into work.

They’ll wonder why you hired them if they’re working on tasks that they’re not suited for.

Employees prosper when they can use their talents to benefit the organisation.

Learn about your employees and what they bring to the team. Consider how to apply each individual’s talents for the greater good.

You’ll make team members feel worthwhile, which boosts confidence and creates better results.

Build a Positive Workplace #3 – Be Optimistic

Your team looks to you for inspiration. What you say and how you act influences your organisation’s culture.

If you’re downbeat and cynical, expect your team to act in the same way. They’ll place little value on their work because that’s what you do whenever you show them your own frustration.

optimism masterclass thumbnail

Did you know you can LEARN how to be more optimistic? For a limited time you can subscribe to the Great Managers MasterClass for free and watch OPTIMISM and many other full-length MasterClasses. Click image above for more info!

It starts with the way you talk. Positive verbiage bolsters your team and shows that you’re excited to work with them.

Phrases like

“I admire how…” and

“I’m impressed with…”

offer positive reinforcement.

They also change the way your employees absorb your feedback. Keeping a positive tone makes the listener more receptive. As a result, they’re more likely to want to constructively tackle any issues you do raise.

Mind your body language too.

Stand tall and show that you’re proud of your workplace.

Optimism is surprisingly infectious and is a cornerstone of a great company culture.

Even a smile can bolster your team spirits and generate positivity.

Amy Cuddy presented the idea that your body language may shape who you are, and who you become.  If you haven’t seen her TED talk from back in 2012, watch it here.

Build a Positive Workplace #4 – Connect With Individuals

Positive working environmentSpreading positive messages throughout your team is only part of the puzzle – you must also engage with team members individually.

Talk to them and learn what drives them. Develop a bond stretching beyond what you expect the person to do in the workplace.

This is something many leaders struggle with when building a positive workplace culture.

They rely on emails and memos to get their messages across. All the while, their team members resent the lack of personal communication with their leaders.

They see you as a face behind a machine, instead of a person they can connect with.

Give “the boss” a human persona. Take some time to learn about your employees’ goals and the interests that drive them when working on your projects.

Build a Positive Workplace #5 – Celebrate Small Wins

The biggest project goals are also the most difficult to achieve.

Your team may spend months, or even years, toiling away without an end in sight. If they don’t have anything else to celebrate during that time, they become less effective.

Every major project requires small steps.

When you celebrate these steps, you give your employees a much-needed motivational boost.

They feel positive about the project going forward, so they renew their efforts and remain productive.

Don’t ignore the small steps. Recognise every small win with an appropriate celebration, such as a bonus or team meal.

These little celebrations also serve to recognise individual accomplishments.

Those further down the totem pole can feel as though all the credit goes to the project lead – (you).

If you celebrate reaching milestones with the people who’ve helped to reach them, you create a great company culture.

Build a Positive Workplace #6 – Encourage Ideas

Every new challenge tests your creativity.

Some leaders plough ahead while giving little regard to others’ ideas. They assume their way is the right way, even when people on their teams could offer insight into the new challenge.

Doing this makes your team feel like it doesn’t have a voice.

The members just follow your orders, even if they think there’s a better way to do things.

An inability to share ideas is one of the signs of a bad company to work for.

Instead, encourage flexible thinking.

This means looking at new challenges from as many perspectives as possible. Encourage your team to contribute ideas.

As importantly, listen to these ideas and think about the ramifications of implementing them.

Not every idea will be a winner. However, encouraging your team to think often leads to better solutions than you could have created on your own.

Build a Positive Workplace #7 – Trust Your Team

Let’s talk about delegation.

It’s something many leaders struggle with, especially those who are new to the role.

You may be so used to doing certain tasks that you don’t want to let others carry the burden.

You keep working in your old role while trying to balance your leadership responsibilities.

You may not realise it, but this shows a lack of trust in your team.

You can’t encourage employees to exhibit positive workplace behaviours if you don’t let them do their jobs. They’ll feel downtrodden and dictated to.

Furthermore, you take on more stress and leave them feeling frustrated.

Treat your team members like competent adults. Delegate appropriate tasks, and allow employees to take ownership of their work.

Increased responsibility makes employees feel valued.

They also take more pride in their work, which usually leads to stronger results.

Finally, you free your time up to focus on the larger issues.

Build a Positive Workplace #8 – Inspire Your Vision

Most leaders have a vision and a mission.

They know what they want to accomplish, and how they want to get there.

Unfortunately, they struggle to inspire others with that vision. The team doesn’t latch on, which creates a negative culture around the vision, and ultimately the workplace.

Your vision must compel others to follow. Saying “We want to be the best” isn’t enough. Dig down into specifics.

Take as an example – they could just say “we’ll lead the way in online retail.”

Combine Vision & ExecutionHowever, the organisation’s vision stretches further. They recognise only online stores that offer the strongest selection and service will succeed. Their vision is simple after that – create the store that offers the service future customers will look for.

This vision is achievable, simple enough to share, and detailed enough to make employees take note. Use it as the inspiration behind your own vision.

Build a Positive Workplace #9 – Create Opportunities

A great company culture encourages employees to reach for success.

Individuals stagnate when they don’t receive opportunities. They may feel frustrated about their lack of achievement and resentful of you for not providing opportunities.

Building a positive workplace culture involves looking into the future.

What does each team member want to achieve?

How can you help them to get there?

How can you use an employee’s aspirations for the benefit of the organisation?

The answers to these questions reveal the opportunities you must present to employees.

Some will benefit from training programs. Others may need more responsibilities to reach their potential. Opportunities give people something to work for and allow them to develop their professional skills.

Fun and positive workplaceBuild a Positive Workplace #10 – Have Fun

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Famously played by actor Jack Nicholson in The Shining, this phrase underscores an important message -you can trace some company culture problems to a constant focus on work.

Having fun doesn’t mean letting employees spend hours away from their work.

But a 15-minute conversation where team members share stories won’t damage the project. It might just be the quick release they need to de-stress before renewing their efforts.

Fun comes directly from having a great company culture that encourages positivity.

We spend a lot of time at work each week, so take part in non-work conversations, and arrange events that encourage your team to spend time together outside of work.


great managers masterclass

What to do Next

Follow these methods to achieve the following:

  • Take steps towards building a positive workplace culture.
  • Make your organisation a great place for your employees.
  • Keep employees engaged with your vision.

Remember that a great manager can DOUBLE the capacity of their people.

If you would like to learn what great managers do to build workplace positivity, for a limited time you can subscribe to our online training, exclusively for managers, for free.  Click here for more info on the Great Managers MasterClass.