Ingredients for joyful, engaged work

This week I've been working with a local childcare center on ways to strengthen the sense of teamwork and engagement among staff, and create an atmosphere of joy and generosity. 

For leaders who want to create that kind of workplace dynamic, I suggest three important ingredients:

  1. Be kind and generous with your employees.

  2.  Help your employees be kind and generous with each other.

  3.  Join forces with your employees to be kind and generous toward your clients and customers. 

Ingredient #2 is especially interesting to me because I think the structural ways that leaders can support good relationships among employees are often overlooked. We tend to assume that if we put a group of people together, they should just get along. But in practice, it's a lot more complicated than that!

It takes more than standard social politeness to create the kind of trusting relationships that bring out everyone's best, and safeguard a group from the inevitable stresses of life and work. It takes people knowing and appreciating each other as full human beings, with unique gifts to offer and unique limitations to be sensitive to.

How to support that will be different in different settings, but it's worth thinking about:

  • What meeting practices could you incorporate that would allow a little more humanness to show through?

  • What could you do to make it safe for people to ask for help without fear of judgment?

  • What systems or resources could you provide people that would make it easy for them to acknowledge and appreciate each other? 

  • What performance review criteria might you add to reinforce that relationships are a priority?

In your own work experience, how have you been supported in building and maintaining great relationships with colleagues? When the relationships haven’t been so great, what was missing that might have helped?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!