One of the biggest ‘hot button’ topics in business today is the creation of a positive office culture. Are your employees happy and engaged? Do they actively participate and live the values of your company? With massive generational divides in the workplace between Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials how does a company provide for these varying needs?
Although input from employees during the creation of a corporate culture is necessary, once that culture has been created it needs to be lived and used in the decision making process with a top-down approach. Questions like, “Does this expansion fit the culture?” or “Is this applicant the right choice for the position?” become easier when seen through the lens of a standardized corporate culture.
As an HR professional, it is your obligation to be a leader in your office space and not only live the office culture but teach it to new employees and temp staff. To excel at this position you must become a leader of your office or workspace.
Here are three ways you can ensure that employees follow your lead and see you as a positive authority figure.
Exude Confident Body Language
Exuding confident body language in the office helps employees to see you as a position of power and role model within the office. Unfortunately, one of the most well-known portrayals of HR professionals in the media is also one of the worst.
The hit NBC sitcom The Office pits HR representative Toby Flenderson with office manager, Michael Scott resulting in Toby being seen as ineffectual and weak.
If you want your employees to exude positivity and collaboration it has to start within the HR department. Use good posture. Slouching or rolled shoulders will seem as though you are trying to make yourself smaller or hide. Confident people take up more space so don’t be afraid to stretch out and with purpose.
Eye contact is another powerful soft skills tool. When nervous, many tend to look away or try to avoid eye contact for extended periods of time. If you are speaking with someone look them in the eye and make them feel like they are the only person in the room.
Engage your co-workers
Is your office unorganized or ineffectual? Perhaps the office culture hasn’t been discussed or agreed upon by all parties. Start a conversation. Create an open dialogue regarding the state of the office, the goals and expectations, and why the company culture is important.
An office culture helps give purpose to activities and can facilitate decision making. What does your staff want to do to help build on the culture of the office place? Be the leader and facilitate a conversation that allows everyone’s voice to be heard.
Use this conversation as a time to set goals and create a sense of teamwork in the office. This can be business, charity, or health related, depending on the office culture you are working to promote.
Participate with vigor
Keeping office culture fun means that everyone has to participate. After work events, fundraisers and casual days and not optional for the HR department. Building moral while enforcing the policies and procedure is critical.
If you sponsor a sports themed day, wear a hat or jersey and get involved. Be the role model you expect your employees to be. They have to follow a leader. Anything that is planned for the good of the office that builds on the company culture is your cue to play along.
A leader that participates gains more followers. The goal is to build an environment that fits the goals of the culture that has been previously laid out.
This also means encouraging other participants and helping the office become a comfortable work environment. Whether your culture is as stiff as in The Devil Wears Prada or as relaxed as Facebook HQ, you need to encourage and uphold those policies and cultural norms.
Overall as the HR manager you are the leader in office culture and getting it off to a good start is worth the time and effort. If you are new to a work space or if there are many new employees it is not a bad idea to have a quick meeting to get everyone on the same track, assert authority and start working toward your cultural goals. Remember, office culture can only be sustained when the employees witness the people at the top embracing the same culture. And as an HR department you have the fun job of making sure that happens!
Brandon Slater & Samantha Field co-founded, Life’s Secret Sauce to teach motivated professionals the necessary social skills to master first impressions, build meaningful relationships, & create quality conversations with anyone.