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  • Writer's pictureDavid Peterson

Shaping your Workplace Culture to Value Achievement

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

Ever wonder what life in your company would be like if you could suddenly make every employee feel valuable, excited and dedicated?

The Awful Catch 22 of Company Culture

Getting a feel for your own company culture can seem easy, but it can be an awful catch 22.

If you survey people in order to identify the culture, you probably get a variety of answers.

Then, if you don’t address all the problems, it would be seen as a lack of decisive action.

And then finally, your company is then seen as a place where employee concerns aren’t addressed…

The result is a poor company culture.

But you never intended it that way!

Seriously, nobody in any leadership position wakes up every day, plotting to find new ways to lower morale and discourage the workforce.

And yet, it’s easy to find data that shows manufacturing as being one of the leading victims of high turnover rates, where employees are obviously dissatisfied enough with their current employment to look for the exit sign.

One specific study conducted by Tooling U, one of the leading sources of workplace skills evaluations and research happened in early 2019.

The results said that across manufacturing, about 40% of all companies surveyed said that they lost 1 out of every 5 employees each year.

If you lose 20% of your workforce in a year, think of everything you are losing - the years of experience, the time it takes to find a replacement, the cost of hiring, and the morale of the remaining 80% when the work is shifted onto their shoulders.

Let me tell you a story...

Let’s go back a few years.

Try and remember the first time you really were proud of an achievement.

For me, it was as a member of my local Civil Air Patrol unit, a promotion to staff sergeant at 14 years old.

There was a ceremony during a Christmas banquet to pin on the new insignia. Dad, Mom and brother there to see the whole thing.

Although it was a lifetime ago, I know why this event stands out to me, in several ways.

First thing, I had worked hard for this achievement. It’s not the most difficult thing I have ever done, but it was the hardest thing that 14-year-old me had ever done.

Also, my family and the rest of the members were proud of me.

Finally, I knew that I had become a member of a team I could count on - after all, they had mentored and taught me along the way.

You fill in the blanks for your own experience, and take your time - I really want you to feel how proud you were…

Now the big question.

The group or team that was around you for that big moment and helped you to get there - did you feel devoted to their cause, standing alongside them no matter what?

I would bet the answer is yes.

Now for me, that Civil Air Patrol experience is still going on, although my priorities in life have shifted drastically, and in a few years my sons might be in that same spot.

But now, back to the present, this is real life today.

Your work environment is the perfect opportunity to give your employees that same commitment and personal achievement that you imagined from a long time ago.

But the right culture needs to exist first.

Like it or not, every company has a culture, but it’s not always the right one.

In fact, far too often, it’s the wrong one.

Very wrong.

Now go back to the memory of your own experience.

We were thinking about why you were proud to be a member of a team.

Wouldn’t you love to see that same feeling in your employees?

The same article from Tooling U also lists a few solutions to address this ongoing problem. However, sometimes those are easier said than done.

Two common ideas that are NOT recommended

1. Do NOT take a poll seeking suggestions to improve the culture and morale.

If you have to take a poll, that’s the same as telling everyone you have no idea what’s going on inside your own team.

In addition to that, you probably can’t solve every suggestion, so you would have to pick favorites. Obviously, that’s not great for morale.

2. Don’t immediately rush into a money compensation program.

This is a tough one - it seems like a good morale booster, who doesn’t love getting more money?

Giving out cash rewards for exceptional service CAN work in some cases, but it should be done with caution, only after the employees actually feel valued by the leaders, not just another budget line item.

Think about this - if money is given to an entire organization in return for production quotas, then once again, there is no commendation for any individual contribution and the effect falls flat. Nobody will have been given a reason to be proud of their own work.

Your most powerful tool to build positive attitudes

It can be hard to know exactly what steps to try in order to give employees job satisfaction.

But I want you to capitalize on your own pride moment.

Again, remember your own experiences.

Ask yourself:

“If I was in the position of a manufacturing technician, arriving to work each day, what would I like to hear my boss tell me?”

If you actually have been in that job position before, it’s a home run, you’re almost there already.

And then, you have to DO IT.

Like Nike says, Just Do It.

Maybe that shows up as a handshake and hearing this:

“Hey David, I really appreciate the work that you do around here. I noticed that when you are running that machine, we produce a lot of very consistent parts and they come out looking great. Keep up the great work.”

Try this, and you’ll notice a bit of a change, I promise.


But there is a caveat - if you are going to commend an aspect of their work, and I really recommend it, the compliment must be honest.

That means you will need to be attentive to your people. Watch the way they work. Commend the good behaviors, and never hold back on that.

But you’ll need to be observant. This process requires watching them closely to find the achievements.

Be careful here, because usually when people are being watched closely, the objective is to find faults - don’t fall into that trap. It never ends well.

If there is a behavior that needs correction, make a note of it, but you can always circle back to a correction, unless it’s an urgent safety issue.

To be clear, safety violations are a different story as they usually have written policies and disciplinary actions attached.

But for the little things, finding faults does not improve morale.

I bet the last time that someone pointed out that you did something wrong, it probably didn’t make you feel awesome. Same story for them.

Encouraging good actions and behaviors is a much more reliable incentive than discipline for wrong behaviors.

Find the good things, and praise them.

Let me repeat that one again - find good things and praise them.

Do this all the time.

And if you see something positive happening, get over there and give out that word of thanks right away, and make sure the whole team can see it.

If you already enjoy doing this kind of thing, awesome - make it a game to see how many honest commendations you can identify during your next shift.

If praising people isn’t your thing, maybe you’ll need to set a reminder on your phone - once every few hours, go find someone who works for you and thank them for something REAL.

It may be a challenge to figure out how to hand out encouragement, since some people are naturally good at it, and some aren’t as much.

But it’s worth it in the long run.

The best part...

Want to hear a secret?

This is a totally great strategy for one reason…

Other strategies can change the behavior of your employees. But that only affects them.

This one changes you.

You can always read in books or online about various ways to improve a company culture, and a lot of those methods certainly can work great.

In fact, we encourage a whole lot of different kinds of techniques to help motivate and drive people to excellence.

But this one is unique.

It doesn’t need a policy in writing.

It doesn’t need a budget request.

It doesn’t require hiring a program coordinator.

You don’t need to run it through any committees.

You can literally get started right now, or at least as soon as you get back to work.

But don’t wait around, or nothing will change.

It’s a simple procedure, but it’s not a magic pill that works by itself. If you want to see changes, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone.

Zero improvements will happen if you just sit around waiting, and you are the only person who can change your attitude toward others.

If you are the one in charge of a team, this is your responsibility, and you have the power to make a really big impact.

You simply need to remember that one thing that made you proud of an achievement in your life.

From that memory, you can challenge yourself to give a similar experience to everyone who will ever work for you.

You’ll be a rock star.

With a fluorescent vest, of course.

And we can be there to help you and your entire team in this culture shift.

It’s not difficult, but it has to be intentional, and we can help you.

Contact us today and get started becoming that rock star.

Yes, okay, with safety glasses.

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