I am what many would call an “old millennial.” But millennials sometimes get a bad rap. They’re whiny, entitled, and demand many things at work. Some of those being frivolous things others LESS frivolous. We want companies with modern benefits – meaning flexibility for our families, or to work when we best work (want to get to work at 7a? Go for it. Want to work until 8p and get in at noon? Sure.), companies that understand the needs of families not just in flexibility but are being leaders in benefits for new parents, and we want companies with defined core values. But, while many see these changes in office cultures come down from executives, my question was how do you impact that change in the workplace if you’re not in a leadership role? How do you help create a culture of positivity if you’re not a manager?
Culture in the workplace, as many seasoned millennials know, is about more than just bean bag chairs and happy hours. Culture is created also by defined core values, feeling valued and respected by leadership in your company and through managers who are willing to coach and build leaders. I’m lucky to be in a spot where I truly enjoy my job and am passionate about the product we have.
While no job is perfect and any company you work for will likely have room for improvement, if you’re staying true to your own passions and values, that’s when I’ve found you have the biggest opportunity to become a leader and creating a work environment that keeps you getting out of bed in the morning and harbors a team environment that anyone would want to be a part of. Positivity breeds positivity from the team, so sticking it to the negative nancies in the world, is just one challenge that many companies face when creating a culture that people want to be a part of.
I had the pleasure last week of chatting about creating a culture when you’re not in a leadership role with the fine ladies of MarketHer from IMPACT Branding & Design and dealing with negativity in the workplace. You can see the whole discussion:
Some of my key takeaways on how to be a leader in creating a culture when you’re not necessarily in a leadership role:
Be the positive example
Seriously, no one likes a negative Nancy. Keep your attitude positive. Remind yourself of the passion YOU have for the work and be that positivity that YOU want to see. Even on the tough days, remind yourself that this too shall pass and those tough days are seasons – letting those tough days get the best of you are only going to
Curb the gossip
Negativity breeds negativity and gossip is a huge negativity monger. Stay away from the gossip and don’t feed into it. Rather than gossiping over lunch, find out what you have in common with your colleagues and talk about things other than work.
Lean on HR
I read this Fast Company article on the flaws of Uber and their toxic culture, which many of us are well versed in given their presence in the news. When HR doesn’t respect or empower employees it’s like a pillar of any potential company culture is already flawed. Since we brought our HR Director into my company, our culture has been hugely impacted for the better. She’s done a fantastic job at really helping employees feel like they’re heard when they have concerns and she’s a great bridge between management and the rest of us.
I’m not talking about just happy hours and team building, but general communication, and general goal setting. This year we sat down with our managers and mine has been fantastic about supporting my goals and challenging me to be better. It’s truly empowering to feel like you’re supported by management wheras, I’ve had positions where that was not necessarily the case. On the flip side, if management sits behind closed door meetings, brushes suggestions for the company off and it’s just business as usual with the “management” versus everyone else attitude, I bet morale will be low and culture will just be a thing everyone talks about. I’ve experienced both sides of this and it’s really can’t express how important it is for management to communicate with the rest of the company. Transparency goes a long ways with improving morale and creating a positive culture.
Show your team you value them
Even if you’re not a manager, let your teammates know you value their work, their expertise, and their support during tough times. It helps to build that team morale and feeding that positivity into your team. A little team love goes long ways. If you’re not a manager, you probably don’t have much say into salary but I can tell you, feeling like your experience is valued through a fair salary goes a LONG ways to being valued in your company. Vouch for your colleagues who might be working for a promotion, support their goals and ambitions. You don’t have to be a manager to really help your team feel like they’re doing amazing things and are valued.