87% of companies report that employee engagement and office culture are their number one challenges. The difference between profitability and bankruptcy could have very little to do with the market or the economy as a whole, but more than likely, it has to do with the internal dynamics of your office. This is good news, because you have the power to change it.

Here’s how:

  1. Create a Positive Environment

We spend lots of time in the office with our coworkers—in the same building, in the same office, nearly every workday of the year—but how well do we really know them? Office hierarchy is important, but if it’s too rigid or too familiar, it can actually do more harm than good. It’s a balancing act and each office manager will have to find what works best for them and their team.

One of the most important things leadership can do is create an environment where people want to grow, thrive, and be. Some suggest having teambuilding activities such as office gatherings / outings / parties where employees actually want to attend. You can’t force people to be friends, nor should you, but you can create an environment where people to get to know one another better and have each other’s back. This is the hallmark of engaged employees, and having a positive environment leads to engaged employees and greater productivity and profitability.

  1. Individualize Praise

Psychologists have found that people with higher IQs are less likely to conform than others. They don’t follow the pack. Instead of viewing them as potential problems, treat them as assets and nurture their talents. If anyone is going to come up with the next big idea that changes the industry, it’s probably one of your office rebels. Make sure not to judge your employees’ performance in relation to someone else in the office. If they’re improving, that’s all that matters.

And, while we’re talking about individual praise, don’t pit individuals against one another – this is a recipe for disaster. Good healthy competition, team against team, can be great and add a spirit of entrepreneurship to the organization, but don’t forget that in the end, there is one company, not two teams.

  1. Lead and Inspire

Psychologists and scientific studies are revealing more and more about leadership every day. It turns out most people are conformists, and this can be a positive thing for society, but most successful leaders are nonconformists who aren’t satisfied with the status quo – they want the best for themselves and their team.

Your best leaders are “cheer leaders,” that is, people who are inspire others to give their best all the time. They give praise (and correction) when needed, and set clear guidelines and goals, (and then get out of the way and let people do what they do best). They don’t take the credit – they ensure that others get it – their reward is seeing their people be successful.

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