Trey Northrup, Leader, LIXIL Americas.
Like many of you, I spend an enormous amount of time at work. Sometimes, I spend more time with my leadership team than I do with my wife and kids. My bedtime stories are told on spreadsheets, my nightly routine includes meetings with my colleagues in Japan and my home gym is in a different hotel every month. Work has become my home away from home. But make no mistake: I know the difference, and despite the efforts of countless corporate culture campaigns, you probably do, too.
All too often, I see organizations say things like, “Here, we are a family” or “This company is your second home.” Most of the time, this is just lip service—a general statement about culture that holds no weight. The fact is, for most people, work is a temporary but important set of relationships that we maintain in order to enjoy the rest of our lives. When those relationships are weak, they’re easy to sever. But when they’re strong, then work becomes a community that may not technically be a family but is awfully close to it. It becomes more like a home away from home.
What makes some organizations more like a family than others?
There’s no one factor, but I am confident that it comes down to employee well-being. In this case, are we providing the psychological safety they need to thrive? As leaders, we have to take a step back and reflect on our business. We have to ask: What am I doing to make employees feel welcome? How is this environment safe and secure?
Each person has their own set of skills and experiences that they bring to the team, and it’s crucial to provide them with the opportunity to share their innovative ideas. While it’s necessary for everyone in an organization to work toward common goals, people can arrive at the same destination with wildly different journeys. As a leader, it’s essential to recognize and celebrate these differences and understand that individuals may approach tasks in ways that differ from your own.
Don’t get me wrong; there will be internal struggles. This isn’t something that can happen overnight. But changing your mindset and getting some perspective will help you discover new ways to cater to the needs of your employees. Now is the time to evaluate your business priorities and explore methods to change your internal culture to one that is truly welcoming and supportive.
Here are some tips on how to get there, as well as some questions to ask yourself when creating a workplace where all employees feel at home.
• As a leader, acknowledge that work is not the same as home, even if employees are working from home.
• Respect your employees’ personal time and prioritize their needs outside of work.
• Be mindful and inclusive. Creating a home for everyone is about building a comfortable, safe environment where people can bring their ideas and experiences to the table in a meaningful way.
• Look for a middle ground on sticking points and always be respectful of different viewpoints. When you lead with respect, you build an environment where people trust that you have their best interests in mind.
• Challenge yourself to embrace discomfort and actively listen to and consider the ideas of your colleagues.
• Build the home you want to live in. Would you want to work in the environment you’ve created? Would you feel safe, heard and respected? As a leader, you can create an environment where people want to be, and where all employees can thrive, if you ensure it’s a place you would want to be, too.
It’s important to recognize that communication is a two-way street; people are more likely to share their ideas when they know their perspective is valued. Embracing diverse viewpoints fosters growth and transformation not only for individuals but for the entire organization. Have you considered strategies for diversifying your workforce and promoting the sharing of innovative ideas?
If you can create a sharing culture, it’s also important to remember that sharing ideas is only effective when it’s complemented by a process for encouraging and welcoming feedback. People need to feel safe not only in sharing but also in offering their opinions—even if those opinions are objections. Feedback leads to iteration, and employees who feel at home are more likely to keep iterating and bringing ideas to fruition.
Remember, leadership is not about having all the answers; it’s about creating an environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute their best work. By setting a positive example and building a culture of trust and respect, you can inspire your team to bring their full selves to work and achieve their full potential.
We all want to create a workplace where everyone feels safe, comfortable, and respected. We may never be able to build a workplace that is truly a second home, but we can build a community that feels like home, where everyone in the organization feels secure. So, as a leader, ask yourself: Would you want to work in the environment you’ve created? If not, it’s time to make some changes.
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