Positive culture in a workplace is something that people have been talking about for a while now. Some companies are great at building it, others make attempts at it that aren’t quite working, and some companies are still not buying into having a great culture and don’t even try.

Being in Human Resources, I have the opportunity to talk with a diverse group of people about their job experiences. When I ask why people have left previous companies, the answer seldom has to do with pay and benefits. The answer is lack of development or career progression, a negative leader/team or that they didn’t feel valued or cared about.

All of these answers roll up into what culture is made of and that is at the heart of what people are looking for in a company.

No matter how you look at culture as a whole, it will come back to individual relationships and answering the employee’s questions of, “Do you care about me? Can I trust you? And are you committed to me?” Let’s break down each question and see how we can create an inspiring culture that serves others to meet our goals as a company.

Do you care about me?

Your team wants to know that you care about what is going on outside of their work life. Everyone asks how each other’s weekends went or how their holidays went, but are you listening? Instead of asking the general question, ask specific questions to show you are paying attention. “How was your sister-in-law’s house for Easter?” instead of “How was Easter?” If you didn’t know their specific weekend plans, you may have some work to do!

Are you meeting their needs as a person? Do they need to step away for an event for their child? Or a special appointment they like to get to each month? For each person it will look different — respect their privacy if they put the walls up, but know that each person will have something that you can do to show that you care about them. Always be asking the question, “How can I better serve you to meet your needs?”

Are you giving them the feedback or coaching that they need to be successful? If you aren’t doing this, you are setting them up to fail in their jobs and that is not a great way to show you care about them. People need direction to do their jobs successfully. Sometimes it is not the easiest of conversations, but it will always show you care if you approach it in the right way.

Can I trust you?

Are you an approachable leader and is your company open to hearing things they don’t necessarily want to hear? Your team wants to be able to trust you as a leader. If they can’t come to you with their job stresses, how are you supposed to help them with life stressors and truly lead them? If you can’t change their job duties, explain the “why” or “why not” to them so you continue to build that trusting relationship.

Everyone wants an environment they can feel safe in or a person they can be safe with. This “safe person” is a very important role and should not be taken lightly. As leaders we can make an impact with our presence and our words — this can be a positive impact or a negative impact, so it is a great responsibility. Trust is something that can be lost very easily, and very hard to gain back.

In a team situation, the best way to gain trust with each other is through building community among the team. Spend time getting to know each other doing team-building exercises, asking thought-provoking questions of each other or spending time outside of work.

This community will enhance your culture and in turn create trust among the group. It’s an amazing thing to see a team go through a transition from bad to good through taking these steps and how much more successful they are when they are working together and trusting each other.

Are you committed to me?

One of the best ways to show you are committed to someone is to help train or prepare them for additional responsibilities or a new role. Are you getting your team the additional training they need? Are you developing your next leaders on your team? By doing this, you will increase engagement and lower turnover.

Going back to my previous answers regarding why people leave: Lack of progression is a huge reason why people leave companies. Even the smallest of additional responsibilities can be development opportunities for employees and encourage them to stay in jobs.

Are you showcasing their talents when you have the opportunities? Today’s leader doesn’t take credit for their team’s work, but puts their team in the spotlight every opportunity they get.

Another way to show you are committed to them is to connect them with other people who will help them grow. Is there a skill they need to work on and a mentor that can help them with that specific skill? Set up the introduction and let it grow — your employee will know you have their best interest at heart.

Going forward, keep these three questions in mind. When you think about previous leaders you have had, is the answer to each question “yes”? Did you even have to think about it? They each made a difference in your life and your leadership.

What about poor leaders that you have had? The answers were most likely a bit different. Now ask yourself these questions if you are a leader of others. Are you being the boss you wish you had? Or do you have some work to do? Start with this and your culture will evolve from there and you retain the best talent.

Brooke Richartz, a Human Resource Management — Senior Certified Professional, is in Human Resources at Festival Foods. She is also director of public relations and marketing for the Chippewa Valley Society for Human Resources Management (CVSHRM). Contact her on LinkedIn or at brichartz@festfoods.com

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