Something that I found really refreshing when I started working at my current company was that they asked their managers to have a “yes first” approach. This meant that if someone came to you and asked for permission, you should always TRY to give them approval unless the request would create business challenges. Wait? WHAT?! A company that actually trusts its employees? Is this real life?
You bet it is, and it’s a really great life!
Typically, people don’t ask for things that they don’t need, and a good employee won’t try to use the system their advantage. Let that sink in. GOOD EMPLOYEES DON’T ASK FOR THINGS THEY DON’T ACTUALLY NEED.
When I became part of this culture it was apparent that people didn’t just feel like worker bees but felt like they were a valued part of the company. They felt trusted. There are obviously always office politics, but having a culture that values trust is so incredibly important.
I want to work with people that I can be myself with. I want to work with people that understand my legitimate concerns about my family and my life. It goes without saying that some things remain private and I don’t want to share with everyone but knowing that I can talk to my colleagues about my personal life challenges so that they understand why one day I might be in a superstar mood and another day I might want everyone to leave me alone is very helpful in a collaborative office environment.
I recommend that you allow your employees to be human. To support them in their personal and professional endeavors. It will change your entire team dynamic. Trust that they will get their work done and if anything comes up that poses a threat, they will elevate it to you as a concern before it actually becomes an issue.
Try to change up your routine and start allowing your employees to do a little more, be a little more flexible. It might be allowing them to try their hand at a project they have been really interested in. It might be working from home one day a week. It might be a shift in office seating. It might be adding in a weekly pot luck. Regardless, letting your employees feel valued can create an immeasurable shift in office culture.
When you say yes, it doesn’t have to be a blanket statement. It should always come with expectations. For example, if you have an employee that asks to join the new business team because it’s something, they are passionate about perhaps you set up an arrangement where they can sit in on a few team meetings, and then you will continue to check-in. If they are still passionate about it, then give them a little more. If they get all their day to day tasks completed on time, there isn’t any reason that you should hold them back from perusing something they are passionate about and potentially good at. Passion fuels performance.
Saying yes can also help to break free from routine. Saying no is easy. It means that nothing is going to change. When you say yes, it means that there will be a shift from what is currently happening. That can be scary and intimidating. Don’t get me wrong, a routine is important but sometimes routine can be detrimental to success. Let me share an example. On an average day, I get anywhere from 75-200 emails. When I am in the office at my desk, I respond to 20 or 30 emails because I have constant visitors stopping by my desk asking me questions. When I work from home, I can usually get back to almost all the emails. Additionally, I work for about an hour and a half away from my home. This means that I spend about three hours a day driving. Imagine how much I could get done in three hours. If my daycare wasn’t right next to the office it would make working from home much easier but knowing that if I have a grandparent that can watch my kid and my boss is comfortable with me working from home if I need time to just knock stuff out makes me feel empowered and comfortable talking to her about anything work-related.
Give your employees the benefit of the doubt and see if productivity increases and attitudes improve.