For a number of years the MOVE Project has been announcing an annual report listing the Best Accounting Firms for women to work for in public accounting. The list is based on an annual survey regarding factors such as a firm’s women’s initiatives and female leadership opportunities to name just a few.
Working for one of the firms on the annual list seems to be an opportunity to be a part of a good work environment. It would appear helpful to know that a firm understands what women in the accounting profession need, fostering a sense of comradery, balance and career development.
But what happens when you don’t work for one of these listed firms? Or, what happens when you actually do, but you still aren’t happy with your work environment?
Whether you are a boss, a team leader or an employee, having a good work environment is obviously desirable. It makes sense that when you feel better you do better, especially at work.
But what can you do when your employees are slacking, your team members can’t stand someone on the team or your boss never gives positive feedback? How can you create a better work environment when you’re either in charge or when you’re not?
This week I’m going to discuss how to create a better work environment when you are the boss/leader and when you are an employee.
When you are the boss/leader
If you are reading this and care enough about creating a better work environment then my guess is that you probably aren’t a horrible boss to begin with. You may want to create a better work environment because you noticed employees not getting along, complaining a lot lately or gossiping about you and each other; maybe you feel frustrated with the lack of productivity in the office or the lack of professionalism.
The key in understanding how to create a better work environment is in knowing who you are creating it for. If you believe that you are creating it for others, you are going to be frustrated, disappointed and resentful when they don’t see it the way you do, don’t behave the way you would like or don’t appreciate your effort.
It doesn’t matter whether you offer 8 weeks of vacation, have a state-of-the-art espresso machine in the break room or offer amazing flexible work arrangements, you cannot control how anyone thinks and feels about their job. The first step to creating a better work environment is in understanding that you are responsible for how you show up and how you experience the environment; your employees are responsible for how they choose to think and feel when they are at work.
When you try to influence how others feel when they are at work, you tend to have unclear expectations and consequences for the people you are managing and become emotionally affected by their behavior. You create an imaginary instruction manual in your mind with the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of the people you manage in order for you to feel better and that have nothing to do with normal policies and procedures.
For example, you may feel frustrated because you notice that one of your employees is impatient when you don’t review her work quickly. You want her to be happy so you push yourself to review her work before anyone else’s and wind up feeling resentful when you are working on the weekend to appease this employee thinking she should be more appreciative of the effort you are making.
When you are managing others, the most important thing you can do is manage your mind and come from a “clean space”. When you learn how to manage your mind you show up as the best version of yourself, you create an environment that makes it possible for others to be the best version of themselves and you stay open and receptive to your self-growth.
The only power you have to create a better work environment is the power of your mind to decide how you want to think, feel and behave that aligns with the result you are looking to create for your life. The questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- Who am I being when I’m at work?
- Am I happy with how I show up when I’m at work?
- Am I looking for my employees to validate me?
- Are my feelings dependent on others?
- What does being the “best version” of me look like?
Once you get clear about the mind drama that you might be bringing to work, the second step is having clear expectations and consequences for your employees, communicating these in a non-judgmental, compassionate way and being able to neutrally assess a situation to determine which consequences may be necessary. Being frustrated or upset is always optional but the only person experiencing those negative emotions will be you.
A better work environment happens for you (remember, that’s all you can control) when you have open and honest communication and when you limit your mind drama. Therefore, the best way to manage people is from a place of compassion and caring because ultimately everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t fire someone or tolerate unacceptable behavior, it means you compassionately let someone go once you’ve communicated the expectations and consequences and they haven’t shown the ability to meet those expectations. A managed mind doesn’t take other people’s behavior personally; it allows people to think and behave the way they choose and lets them know when they aren’t a good fit for this job.
The third step is in understanding that you cannot control what your employees think about or feel about you, but you can control what you think and feel about them. If you genuinely cared for and felt compassion towards them then your interactions would be fueled by those feelings.
But make sure you check yourself – don’t walk around being nice in order to make people feel a certain way about you or their job, be nice because it feels good to you to be nice and will ultimately create your experience. Just because you don’t create other people’s feelings doesn’t give you permission to hurt people or to be nasty it just means it’s in YOUR best interest to be at your best for YOU.
Of course it’s easier for your employees to feel happy when they are around a happy person but the reason they feel happy is because of the thoughts they are choosing, not because you made them happy. When you manage your mind and emotions you can decide how to be your best self and let your employees decide what to think and feel about that.
So go buy lunch today for your employees because it feels good to be generous or ask your secretary how her son did in the baseball game because it feels good to be connected, not because you are trying to make them feel better about you or about work.
Imagine how that work environment would be for you!
When you are the employee
Since you spend so much of your time at work it seems like a good idea to try to work in the best environment possible. You most likely spend at least 40 hours a week at work so it makes sense that you would want to make it a place that inspires and nurtures you, that makes you feel valued and happy.
No matter what industry you work in, you may be spending more time with your colleagues than you do with your own family and, depending on the time of year, the office may feel like your primary residence. With an improved work environment you could feel motivated and energized, increasing your productivity and advancing your career.
However, what can you do if you aren’t happy with your current work environment? What if the workload, your boss, your coworkers, the commute or anything else is making it difficult to be at your best?
When you work for someone else you may believe you have limited control over the environment at work and that you are at the mercy of the company, your boss or the other employees to create the mood of the office. When you have this belief you tend to get frustrated and stressed at work, blaming others for the “toxic” work environment and possibly looking to work somewhere else.
The truth is that the only way to create a better work environment is to manage your mind and to focus on who you are being while you are at work as well as how you think about work when you’re not there. When you learn the power of managing your mind, it won’t matter where you work, who you work for or who you work with.
The first step is getting clear about who you want to be regardless of anyone or anything else. Imagine that you are in your “dream job” where you are doing the work you want to be doing, working for someone who is your version of the perfect boss and working with people who are a pleasure to be around and then answer the following:
- How would that “dream job” make you feel?
- How would you being doing your work differently than you are doing it now?
- Would you be proud of how you showed up at the end of the day? Why?
The good news is that you do not have to wait to get your dream job in order to have the feelings you want, to do your work better and to feel proud of how you showed up. The only thing that would be different between what you are experiencing in your current job and that dream job are your thoughts.
The second step to creating a better work environment is to be willing to give up all your excuses about why you can’t succeed or why you can’t feel better at work. Your boss’s lack of recognition for your work or your coworker’s lack of comradery isn’t responsible for how you experience your current work environment; you are.
This is great news because that means you are no longer powerless or a victim to the people, places and things at work. They were never responsible for how you felt or how you behaved anyway, you just didn’t know it.
Now that you have the awareness of what has been creating the way you currently feel at work, the final step is to decide what you want your experience to be. This is where you take all your power back to create whatever result you want:
- If you want to feel like a valuable employee -imagine what that valuable employee would be thinking and how she would behave
- If you want to feel respected by your boss – imagine what that respected employee would be thinking and how she would do her job
- If you want to feel a connection with your coworkers – imagine what the connected employee would be thinking and how she would interact with her coworkers
Creating a better work environment is within your control when you stop blaming the results you currently have on others. People don’t make you feel anything negative, your thoughts about people do, therefore, circumstances don’t have to change for you to feel better; you feel better when you change your beliefs about your circumstances.
So choose to think a thought like “This company is really lucky to have me” because it creates the feeling of valuable or a thought like “I respect the role I play on this team” because it creates the feeling of respect. The only one that has the power to create a better work environment is you by choosing thoughts that serve you.
Imagine how that work environment would be for you!
- The key in understanding how to create a better work environment is in knowing who you are creating it for.
- The only power you have to create a better work environment is the power of your mind to decide how you want to think, feel and behave that aligns with the result you are looking to create for your life.
- When you learn the power of managing your mind, it won’t matter where you work, who you work for or who you work with.
- Creating a better work environment is within your control when you stop blaming the results you currently have on others.
If you’d like some help creating a better work environment, please feel free to schedule a free mini session or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get to work together.