A number of years ago we were looking for a cottage. We met a great realtor who was excited to be able to help us find our first leisure property. Every time he’d get out of the car, he would do a very interesting but strange thing; he would go right down to the water, take a look around, and within 30 seconds say either, “You can’t buy this place” or “Let’s go inside for a look around.”
We made the assumption that he was rather obsessed with the waterfront. After about the third day of us looking, we said, “Out of curiosity, why do we have to base our judgement on the waterfront?” He shared, “It’s not actually the water. I’m looking to see if there’s any frogs in it because you see, frogs have such sensitive, delicate skin that they can’t survive in an unhealthy body of water and ecosystem.”
What he was explaining to us was that the evidence of frogs was more accurate than any water testing and health records; he could tell, simply by the habitat, if it was hospitable or not.
The same applies to any work environment. People make an impression about your workplace within a minute of setting foot in it. When it comes to clients, new staff, potential partners, they’re looking for how healthy your workplace is, and if they want to do business with you (or if they have no choice, if they can expect a good experience or a less pleasant one). You may be so immersed in it that you can’t tell. You may also feel powerless to change it if it’s not as healthy as it could be. In this blog, we’ll show you what you can do about it, no matter what role you have on the team.
Here are a couple of things you can think about to ensure your team has a healthy ecosystem. Perhaps you’re reading this blog because you’re in a position of deciding if you want to remain in that ecosystem or not. All the more reason to see what can be done about it before you jump ship.
Signs of a healthy ecosystem (anyone can initiate):
1.Celebrate each other
As much as we think people have thick skin, everybody needs to feel acknowledged, appreciated and valued (rather than just told what is needed, how to improve and what to do differently). On the surface, someone may seem tough as nails. But within all of us is the need to do meaningful work and feel valued for it. This is at every level – coaching clients in the c-suite to business owners to folks just starting their career – they share their deepest regrets, their pains, their frustrations, plans they’re not sure about, not feeling valued – and it impacts their energy and productivity. We need to celebrate each other – in small and large ways – on an ongoing basis. When people are working so hard, they need to feel that their greatness (their talents, passions and virtues) are being cultivated, appreciated, tapped into, utilized and valued.
Do you celebrate and value your staff, peers, boss, partners?
2.Ensure every voice is heard
When you listen to an environment with a lot of frogs, they croak in the night. My son loved to catch pollywogs when he was younger, bringing them home to my parent’s pond and watching them grow. Perhaps to my mother’s chagrin, as they would be so loud, croaking all night long, keeping her awake. But you knew they were there!
Do you know what your talent has to say? Do you hear lots of ideas? Do you hear people chatting with each other, interacting on a social level, getting to know each other as people? Are they connecting, sharing and contributing their best ideas to important projects, pitches, clients and problems? Or is there silence? In a meeting, around the office, meeting with you, if you hear little to nothing, that’s a good indicator that there’s some toxicity present such as mistrust, disengagement, or inter-team tension. This can’t be ignored.
Do you ensure every voice is heard?
When a healthy ecosystem exists in nature, the population of its inhabitants grows. Do you have people who want to come and work with your team? Is there a lineup of people waiting to get in, and therefore, do you have a stack of resumes waiting for the first vacancy? Are people inquiring about your organization to become your client, partner or next hire?
There’s a number of organizations I’ve worked with, that never have to post a job advertisement because as soon as somebody leaves, through natural attrition, they are the best recruiters for that team, that organization, and know who to recommend. Do you have people who want to grow and be part of that team, and are the people who are already there, growing and nurturing as well? Or are they stale and stagnant and there is just no appreciation or acknowledgement for the importance of growth within the team?
Recognition Expert, Author and Workplace Ecosystem Curator Sarah McVanel helps frontline staff to CEOs and business owners optimize and fuel their job satisfaction, prioritize what’s most important, and support their greatest competitive advantage – their people.
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