When I think of a healthy work environment, many phrases come to mind. Flexibility, compassion, positive values like respecting others and their opinions, showing personal accountability, being reliable, team collaboration, and open communication. The list can go on forever. These are a few of the core values I search for in a company and a team.
I’ve been a part of several teams and I noticed the teams I enjoyed most were teams that portrayed the majority of, if not all, of the values that are important to me. I feel appreciated when working with people who want to hear my ideas and allow me to contribute to whatever we are working on. When I compare other work environments to the one I’m working in now, it’s a world of difference. The team I’m with now genuinely wants to see everyone on the team succeed. We work together as a unit to complete our tasks and present the best deliverables possible. I’m motivated to put out my best, I am engaged throughout the workday, and most importantly I am appreciated.
Only one team stands out when I think of an unhealthy environment. I was working with a group of students to remodel a company’s marketing plan. We had three weeks to remodel this company’s website, social media, and create a new marketing strategy. I enjoy tasks like this, so I was excited to be a part of the team. Once I settled into the team the excitement quickly started to wear off.
The reason why the team didn’t have a healthy environment was when we formed the team there was a clear leader. This self-imposed leader didn’t give anyone the chance to provide any input. It was their way or nothing. It was close to impossible to work cohesively. I know I don’t work well on a team that doesn’t work together, and the other members didn’t either.
As the project progressed, tension grew between team members. The leader started pitting us against each other. When someone came up with a new idea they didn’t like they would say someone else in the group hated the idea. Anytime someone came up with an idea they liked, they would take credit for it. I remember one instance when they told me to create a social media calendar so we could present it to the stakeholder. I spent all day working on it. They took it to the stakeholder and took credit for my work. This was extremely disheartening and I lost all enthusiasm for the project. I stopped giving my all because I didn’t feel appreciated. They took a team full of eager people who wanted to come together and create something new, and fostered a sense of conflict between us.
I learned teams should be cohesive units, not pitted against each other trying to make one person look better than another. My success should be the team’s success. Ever since being a part of that team, I search for healthy environments at work. I refuse to settle and work on an unhealthy team again.
Here are some great ways to promote healthy environments at work:
- Give your team members or employees a real voice. Feedback is extremely valuable coming from employees. If you allow an employee to express their feelings, you can find more ways to help them excel and make them feel heard.
- Empower your team to succeed. If you provide your employees with the tools needed, they will bring their best selves to work.
- Stop gossip in its tracks. Talking about coworkers and team members is counter productive.
- Allow open feedback channels to find out what’s working with employees and what’s not. This will show the employer is actually listening to the team members and encourages them to share their wants and needs.
When you think of a healthy work environment, what matters to you?