Inspire – vb. 1. to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon. 2. to put thought, feeling or life into; to breathe life into
Workplace – n. the environment in which one works at one’s job (for too many people a source of stress, anxiety and despair: see Dilbert).
Imagine the kind of workplace where everybody wants to work and where no one wants to leave. Imagine a place where people want to do their best, where creativity thrives and where people come first. Imagine a workplace where your customers become lifelong, passionate advocates for your organization. And imagine if work didn’t feel like work. Just imagine . . .
Now think about the cost of working in a less than inspiring workplace. Imagine the costs associated with employee stress, turnover, and absenteeism. Imagine the cost of losing customers. Imagine the cost of employees quitting and staying put in your organization.
Imagine the cost to your family, your health and your soul.
Unfortunately, uninspiring workplaces filled with uninspired employees are all too commonplace. Here are six key factors that go into creating a truly inspiring workplace:
An Inspiring Vision: Imagine going on a family road trip where everyone drives a different car without ever discussing where the final destination is! Inspiring workplaces have an inspiring vision that serve to unite the entire organization towards a common and compelling dream of the future. People in an inspiring workplace understand that it’s not the words that matter in a vision statement, but the idea behind the words that move people forward with passion. And in an inspiring workplace, the link between people’s jobs and a great, inspiring vision are constantly reinforced, so that everybody feels valued and connected by understanding how their particular role contributes to the greater purpose. It’s about keeping the vision alive in meaningful ways, communicating the vision in creative ways, and about co-creating a vision of not just what you do, but how you do things in your workplace. It’s about answering the question why your organization matters. And if done right, creating and keeping a passionate, inspiring vision alive can completely transform a workplace.
Inspiring Values: Inspiring workplaces value their values. They talk openly about their values, and they use them to help them guide their actions. They know that when it comes to values, actions speak louder than words and talk is cheap. You know what your organization’s values are by the way people behave—actions are the only real indicators of values. The choices leaders make and the way employees and customers are treated reflect the true values of any organization. And if there is one overriding value that is consistent in any inspiring workplace it is this: people come first. Inspiring workplaces understand that it is not the cars in the factory or the oil in the ground that is their most valuable commodity—it’s their people.
Inspiring Service: Inspiring workplaces have a service-first mindset where everyone lives the idea that they are in the service business – they just happen to do “x”. Inspiring workplaces foster a culture where everyone understands (yes, even Bob in the basement) they are in the service business and everything everyone does ultimately impacts the customer or client. A service-first value mindset spills over into how leaders lead (by providing great service to their employees) and how teams work together (great teamwork is about providing great service to the rest of the team).
Offering inspiring service recognizes that it’s not good enough to be good (because that’s what your customers already expect, so all we’re doing is meeting expectations!) you have to exceed expectations and be great! And it’s not even good enough to be great anymore, to succeed you need to be different so you stand out from the herd to be heard!
Inspiring Creativity: Creativity is the currency of success. You need to be in the idea business because if the pace of change on the outside of your organization exceeds the pace of change on the inside, it’s just a matter of time before you will run into trouble. You need big ideas and small ideas. You also need to foster more outlets for creativity because allowing people to be creative and asking people for ideas is one of the top workplace motivators. So in an inspiring workplace, employees at all levels are encouraged to share their ideas, no matter how outlandish they may appear on the surface, without fear of retribution. Idea-squashing language (“we tried that in 1912 and it didn’t work”) is minimized, while failures are regarded as setbacks in the pursuit of learning, exploring and trying new ideas on for size. In an inspiring workplace, the message employees receive is loud and clear: “Yes, we really DO pay you to think around here.”
Inspiring Communication: Too many uninspiring workplaces practice deja moo – the weird feeling you’ve heard this bull before! Inspiring workplaces understand that communication is everything and everything is communication! It’s not just what you say at work that matters though, it’s how you say things. And how you communicate at work both creates your culture AND reflects your workplace culture. Inspiring communication happens when people feel trusted and respected and when real, two-way communication happens on an on-going basis. Inspiring communication recognizes the difference between being efficient with your communication and being truly effecting. Inspiring communication happens when people speak in direct, plain language; when people are allowed to be creative in how they communicate their message; and when people are allowed to use humor to stand out from the herd to be heard. Inspiring communication values listening more than talking.
Inspiring Fun: Who said work isn’t supposed to be fun? In an inspiring workplace, work and fun go hand in hand. Safe, positive workplace humor is used to motivate employees, lower stress levels, boost productivity and spark creativity. In fact, the level of workplace fun and laughter is seen as a sign of health—an indicator that employees are working well together and performing to the best of their abilities. It’s not about work OR fun, in an inspiring workplace it’s about choosing work AND fun. It’s about using humor and fun to achieve the great results you deserve.
Copyright Michael Kerr, 2011.
Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame, award-winning international speaker, trainer and author of “Putting Humor to Work” and “Inspiring Workplaces.” You can reach Michael at 1-(866)-609-2640 or firstname.lastname@example.org . For more humor at work articles, DVDs and other humor at work resources, surf on over to www.mikekerr.com. Michael helps workplaces reduce stress, boost morale, spark creativity and increase productivity by putting humor to work and by creating inspiring workplace cultures – the way work OUGHT to be!
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