How a caring leader can create a culture of support
You’ve probably heard the phrase “culture of support” before. But what does it actually mean, and how can a leader of a company or organization create an atmosphere where employees feel adequately cared for?
Employee turnover, discontent and squandered talent are issues that all organizations face, and yet some do a better job at retaining and motivating their employees than others. Join us as we explore what it means to be a caring leader who fosters a healthy work environment.
What is a “culture of support”?
In part, culture is about expectations. We expect certain behaviors to exist within an organization, and those behaviors — good or bad — will set the tone for the corporate climate at large. Caring leadership requires a commitment to respectful interactions with employees in which they recognize everyone’s talents and offer avenues for growth and development.
The ultimate goal of a culture of support is to create a safe environment for all employees — one in which individual perspectives and contributions are encouraged. As such, employees are empowered to positively influence their work environments by leaders who support their ideas.
Caring leadership: 3 ways to establish a supportive workplace
The actions and attitudes of an organization’s leadership team can impact everything from employee retention to overall productivity. For that reason, fostering a supportive work setting is key in just about any industry.
Consider the following three tactics as you strive to accomplish this within your own organization.
1. Build a foundation of empathy and trust
Most relationships are built upon two key elements: empathy and trust. If either is missing, the relationship can fail to progress or end completely. In a professional capacity, many leaders make the mistake of assuming their employees are predominantly motivated by money and status. As a result, workplace interactions can begin to feel purely transactional, with empathy and compassion falling to the wayside.
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However, a large portion of people in today’s workforce — particularly millennials and younger — are reportedly motivated less by money and more by factors that will positively impact their quality of life. For these employees, considerations like paid time off and positive workplace interactions have begun to hold more weight.
2. Create a "Want To" environment
There are two types of environments leaders can create: a "Want To" environment and a "Have To" environment. In other words, leaders can focus on establishing a workplace culture that compels employees to want to show up, work hard and produce high-quality results. The alternative is a culture in which employees begrudgingly feel that they have to go to work, often leaving them feeling disengaged, bitter or even coerced.
Both environments achieve compliance to expectations at similar rates. However, in a "Want To" environment, employees tend to do more than what is required of them, as they appreciate the opportunities they have to do so. In a "Have To" environment, employees typically do the minimum work required and are often resentful for having to do it.
When leaders demonstrate sincere empathy toward their employees, they are more likely to make choices that result in a "Want To" culture.
3. Set a tone of appreciation
Author and speaker Brian Tracy said it best: "A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected." In order to maintain that morale consistently in the workplace, caring leaders must learn the importance of recognizing and acknowledging the hard work of their employees.
When employees feel seen and valued, they don’t just do better work — they also feel empowered to offer their own innovative ideas, try different strategies and collaborate in new ways. A supportive company culture that is appreciative of employees’ contributions will result in professionals who naturally take ownership of the outcomes. Productivity and profitability are likely to follow.
When all employees feel a sense of ownership over the organization’s culture, it can also help foster an environment of continual improvement. This shared responsibility empowers everyone within the organization to help shine a light on areas that need upgrading and develop solutions to those issues.
Become a dynamic and supportive leader
The most effective leaders in any industry are those always looking to improve their tactics and sharpen their skills, as every organization will come with its own unique goals and challenges. The best way to manage these while establishing a culture of support is to hone your organizational leadership abilities.
Learn more about how you can improve your team’s performance and satisfaction by reviewing our article “Expert advice for creating a positive work culture.”