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Written by: Paul Hemphill, Horizons Life Coaching
There’s an excellent saying: “People work best when they feel good about themselves”. And whether you are the owner, manager or a humble worker, there are nearly always things you can do to improve the way that you, and others, feel about themselves in your workplace.
But before thinking about what you personally could do to improve things, here are the 12 key signs that you already work for a really great company. I have listed them in the order in which they must be achieved if you are going to feel good about going in to work every day. In other words, even if some of the important signs further down the list are in place, you are still unlikely to enjoy your work very much if the signs at the top of the list have not been met first.
1. You feel safe
Feeling safe is a primary human need. Safety of course involves physical safety: That you are not over-worried about workplace injuries or illnesses. But it also involves feeling safe from bullying and stress related illnesses; and ideally feeling safe from being made redundant or otherwise losing your job.
2. You feel you are being treated fairly
This is about not feeling discriminated against or treated unfairly with respect to things like your pay and conditions, promotion prospects or the amount of work you are expected to do. It’s also about there being no favouritism or special treatment for certain groups or individuals within the company.
3. You feel well informed
Nobody likes to feel kept in the dark about things that could have a major impact on their lives. And of course, the absence of hard facts about plans for the business almost always results in negatively charged rumours and speculation.
4. You feel the company behaves consistently
It can be incredibly dispiriting to be given a job or piece of work and told it is top priority, only to be told a week later, before you have even finished, that something else has become a new priority. It’s almost as bad when you are told that something is really important, but you can see quite clearly that money and other resources are being invested on other things, whilst the so called “priority” is being under-resourced.
5. You feel quite clear about your role
It is confusing to be unsure about where your role starts and ends. And the problems it leads to can result in quite severe stress and unhappiness. One example is, if there are daily conflicts with colleagues about whose responsibility it is to do a particular task. Even worse is when you get criticised for not doing something that you truly thought was not on your job description.
6. You feel trusted to do your job
Very few people enjoy being micro-managed, with the boss constantly looking over their shoulder, checking on their progress. It can make you feel like shouting “Hey, you are paying me to do this job! Why don’t you trust me to do it the way in which I think I will get the best results?”. Having a manager with good delegation skills can be a wonderful stimulus to getting the best out of their staff.
7. You feel encouraged to develop your skills
One of the best ways a manager can show their belief in the capabilities of their team, is to assume that every member of the team would like to improve their skills and develop their talents over time. Being treated like a robot, employed to do the same task over and over for as long as you are with the business, has an inevitable consequence: Behaving like a robot, with no genuine interest in your work or the reputation of the company.
8. You feel treated as a whole person
However important work is to you, it is very unlikely to be the only thing that matters in your life. In fact, even for the keenest employee, work is more than likely to be ranked behind one or two other things in their life such as family, friends or a major hobby or past-time. When you are treated as a whole person, there is a recognition that your work-life balance is important and safeguarded; and ideally that your manager shows interest in you as a unique individual.
9. You feel appreciated and thanked
Psychological experiments have shown that being ignored and not spoken to, can result in even greater stress than being shouted at. We all want and need feedback; and not providing it, is probably the single most common fault of managers across the country. Too often, managers believe that if an employee is doing their job satisfactorily, then getting paid on time should be all they need in terms of feedback. It isn’t. We all need to feel appreciated and to be thanked on a regular basis. And if that is not your organisation’s culture, it should be!
10. You feel your role is important to the whole organisation
Knowing exactly what your role is, has already been mentioned as the fifth sign of working for a good company. But in a great company, it will also have been explained to you the way in which your role fits in with all the other members of your team or organisation. It doesn’t matter what level you are employed at (from the CEO to the janitor), your role will have a critical impact on how the overall organisation functions. And in really great companies there is a shared belief that we are all dependent on one another; and that none of us can be successful unless we all are.
11. You feel encouraged and safe to come up with new ideas
Surely every company welcomes their employees to suggest ideas for how to improve their products or processes? Well, actually no! Many companies actively or implicitly discourage such ideas, either by making it clear that junior staff should know their place and not get involved in “management” affairs, or by exposing anyone who comes up with a “bad” idea to ridicule. Worst of all, are companies with a blame culture who will seek to identify and punish the culprit for any idea that goes wrong. There can be no surer way to teach everyone to keep their ideas to themselves than that!
12. You feel the company has a mission that you believe in
The ultimate sign that you work for a truly great company is when a) the organisation has a clear vision or mission about the difference it wants to make to the world; b) you know what that vision is; and c) you share a belief that achieving that vision is worthwhile and something you are prepared to do your very best to help achieve.
Now think about these 12 signs as steps on a ladder towards greatness. I wonder how far up the ladder your own company currently make you feel?
How coaching can help
Coaching is a forward looking process that involves helping you draw up an action plan that can literally transform your life, if you follow through on your own choices and decisions.
Wherever your company stands on the ladder towards being a great place to work, and whatever role you currently have in the organisation, you can help make positive changes. It is one of the key roles of coaching to help you decide what you can do to make a positive difference, at least to your team, if not to the whole organisation. Alternatively, coaching can be an extremely helpful way of reviewing and deciding your next career move, if your organisation is a particularly toxic one.