The last two weeks I spent 12 hours per day with the same group of people chanting and yelling. Each of us began as complete strangers which rapidly changed given the duration of the time we spent together. There was nothing truly significant about this particular group of people that made them behave the way they did. Granted, some general stereotypes can be applied anywhere you look. What was significant was the attitudes that were on display towards one another.
WCMS is a credit union education program that promotes the movement’s values. Anyone can put on a class and fill it with useful information (which they did an excellent job at). What WCMS excelled at was promoting a positive learning environment. They set expectations that were intangible which students were generally expected to live up to. This is really difficult to do and even more difficult to describe, but it was the cornerstone of the entire program.
We learned early that there were many people who were very involved in the school. Of all those people, not one contributed a negative look or word to one another. Classes threw events that were geared towards inclusion and participation. Being part of a team is a daunting task. It’s important that the expectation of non-judgmental inclusion and participation without risk of reprimanding or embarrassment is set early. Without that, there really won’t be a great team atmosphere where members are willing to contribute their all.
There are many ways to generate that environment. The desired result is pretty simple: be nice. Everyone has a workplace horror story of having to collaborate with the office asshole. If we want to pull the most out of each employee, we can’t allow an overly harsh or terse communicator to pull down the moral of individuals. We need an accepting and open environment where our people are willing to take risks on behalf of the company without fear of any form. Allowing fear to seep into a culture spells disaster for innovation and growth.
The idea of having the expectation to be overtly nice and courteous is a base requirement. Don’t make excuses for those who inject fear to your organization. We need all people on the payroll to be as happy as possible to maximize productivity. Accept people for who they are, make it known that everyone is expected to accept their peers for who they are, and structure your environment to promote pleasantly courteous attitudes. The age of the temper tantrum or whip cracking is well over. Move into the current era of work places where your people can’t wait to get there every day.