Community is a Characteristic of a Great Working Environment

 
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On May 26, 2009 I posted about the 8 Characteristics of a Highly Effective Workplace. The list is the result of a quarter century of in-class exercises asking people to define a great working environment based on their own experience.

The second item on the list is Community. That's my word, but it comes down to a simple truth: people want to work with people they like and respect.

Those clever people at Gallup were the first I'm aware of to ask about at-work friendships directly. Here's what they found in one survey of innovation in the workplace.

"About three fourths of engaged employees (76 percent) strongly agreed with the statement 'I have a friend at work who I share new ideas with.' On the other hand, only 2 in 10 actively disengaged employees (21 percent) strongly agreed that they have a friend at work with whom they share new ideas."

I'm not sure about the impact of a "best friend" at work. I'm not even sure that people need or want a best friend that is also a co-worker. But I do know what they've told me over the years.

They want to be able to depend on the people they work with. Seems simple. Makes sense.

They want other team members to keep their word and make good on their commitments. Doing otherwise is a breach of trust.

They want other team members to pull their own weight. They're willing to help new people learn, but they expect the newbie to work at learning. They expect everyone to pitch in when it's time to get the job done.

They want to work with friendly people. They figure that they spend a lot of time at work and they don't want to spend it dealing with jerks.

Boss's Bottom Line

It's your job to help make your workplace a community. That means policing behavior as well as performance.

It's your job to help people grow and develop so that they become productive team members. It's also your job to weed out the unfit and unwilling.

Remember this. Team members who are disruptive or who don't contribute are a corrosive force. Your challenge is to identify them quickly, see if rehabilitation is possible and, if not, do what's necessary to show them the door.

Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.

 

 

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  • 7/8/2009 10:17 AM Adi - The Management Blog wrote:
    I'd go a step further and say that the best companies have such a strong ethos and culture that it creates community instantly. The likes of Apple, Google, Toyota attract a certain kind of person and therefore a community is formed because all employees have a shared purpose. The culture and philosophy are so strong that employees have to buy into it to work there, and that creates community.
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    1. 7/8/2009 11:53 AM Wally Bock wrote:

      Thanks for adding that insight. The exercises that produced the information in this post focused on experience at the team level. My experience tells me that what you describe for larger organizations is also true and that culture, as you describe is the driver. I've also found that there are pockets of awfulness in great organizations and pockets of excellence in even the most horrid.


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