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Mood Hoovers: How to create a culture of positive behaviour

How do you banish ‘mood hoovers’ and foster a positive culture in your business? Two of our People Directors Barbara Johnson and Helen Witt give their tips on creating and maintaining a great attitude across your organisation.

 

Find the root of the problem

If your whole team is excessively negative, you need to find out what has gone wrong. Creating a mechanism for employee feedback, such as a ‘company voice’ group of representatives from different departments and/or sites across the business, can help identify what the concerns are.

An engagement survey is another way of doing this. ‘They can help to find out if it’s just one person that feels a certain way or whether it’s reflected across the team,’ explains Helen Witt. ‘If half the company are saying the same thing, it’s easier to address because you have the data. It also creates an opportunity to check in with the team and ask if the data is right – then build an action plan to increase morale.’

Give staff a chance to find solutions

Once you’ve identified the concerns it’s important to focus on addressing them with positive action. Helen suggests encouraging staff to come up with ways to solve the problem. ‘It can make their job a lot more interesting,’ she says. ‘Once you start telling people what to do, you’re then responsible for the problem and the solution. There’s more buy-in if they’re part of the solution.’

Make a plan of action

Staff engagement is only worth carrying out if you intend to act on the findings; it could lead to cynicism if nothing changes. ‘An HR professional can help devise an action plan and a vision for the future and help people believe in the business again,’ Helen continues. ‘It’s about having someone to analyse the data, communicate it back to people in the right way and more importantly, feed it into the strategy for next year.’

Set behavioural standards

Once you’ve addressed the problems raised, it’s time to start engaging with staff to communicate the behaviour you expect from them. ‘Some people need guidance on this,’ Helen says. ‘Tell them what great looks like and try to give them examples of being interactive and proactive.’

Model positive behaviour

Good behaviour needs to be modelled from the top down so it’s important to get your management team on board; negative behaviour is particularly contagious if that person manages others. ‘Whoever has worked for that manager will emulate their behaviour if they get promoted themselves,’ Barbara Johnson explains. ‘So it’s really important to break the cycle.’

Establish strong company values

Having strong company values can help to set behavioural standards in your organisation. If you don’t have any clearly defined values, then a company-wide exercise to create some will encourage buy-in from the team because they’ve been able to help shape them.

Bring those values to life

Once defined, you can bring those values to life by creating a set of behavioural standards that align with them. ‘These should give examples of what “acceptable”, “going the extra mile” and “going below standard behaviour” looks like,’ says Barbara. ‘The management team then has a tool to match observed behaviour to the values. You can also link appraisals to them so employees are not just assessed against their job and personal objectives, they’re assessed on behaviour against the values.’

Barbara explains that while this exercise requires a lot of work at the outset, the end result makes it worth the effort. ‘It can really help to address behavioural issues,’ she says. ‘It’s been a great tool for businesses I’ve worked with. After all, nobody goes to work to be miserable – the more fun and enjoyment we can have whilst we’re doing our jobs, the better!’

If you would like help to engage better with your staff, either through a staff survey or embedding a new set of company values, contact People Puzzles to find out how we can help or call us to discuss your needs on 0808 164 5826.

 

Helen Witt Barbara Johnson
Helen Witt, People Director  Barbara Johnson, People Director

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