People can instinctively tell the difference between a positive work environment and a toxic one. In a positive work environment they feel inspired to do their best. They look forward to coming to work. In a toxic work environment people simply want to survive. They may be on the lookout for a better employment situation someplace else. This is true for any business or other organization, including law firms and corporate legal departments.
To create a positive work environment leadership of the organization needs to establish a culture of trust. In such a culture, employees trust their leaders to be honest, to say what they mean and to treat people fairly without playing favorites. The leaders trust their employees to take personal responsibility for doing their best. The employees trust each other to work collaboratively and to be mutually supportive. They work as a team and live by the motto, "When one of us looks good, we all look good."
It is also important for the leaders in an organization to let go of their need for control so that employees feel empowered to develop their own creative solutions for the task at hand, seeking help and suggestions only when needed. Micromanagement stifles creativity. Employees also need to feel safe and supported when they take reasonable risks and when they make an occasional mistake. An environment in which employees are afraid to make a mistake is a place where creative expression is nearly impossible.
In a positive work environment each employee feels that his or her unique talents are recognized and valued. Leaders in the organization try to match employees' unique talents with their work assignments. The leaders also genuinely care about the well-being of the employees. In all of their interactions they treat employees as human beings rather than as "human capital."
Copyright ©2014 John R. Allison. All rights reserved.