Professionals Expressing Positive Energy

10 Mar

Workplace Politics: Authentic Leadership and Building a Positive Work Environment

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Unregulated office politics can lead to a hostile work environment. Whether it is a personal stressor, conflict of personalities, or an ineffective workflow process, creating a positive work environment is essential to an alluring corporate culture. Mitigating risks, such as office politics, comes from within the development of corporate culture. Implementing authentic leadership skills and practices, teaching and cultivating empathy in the workplace, and learning proper workplace conflict resolution strategies can assist with fostering a better office culture.

Authentic Leadership Tips. Some of the greatest leaders aren’t always what they’ve built themselves up to be. Take the initiative to re-integrate authenticity into your leadership style. Here are five tips that can assist you in becoming an authentic leader.[1]

  1. Everybody is busy; stop using it as an excuse. The ability to stay calm in a stressful situation or unexpected disruptions to your workflow garners more respect from employees, as they are able to witness your poise and may find you more approachable despite the chaos.
  2. Avoid inauthentic communications (i.e., the cliché “on behalf of” communications). If possible, always try to create authentic messages to be distributed. Oftentimes, inauthenticity is immediately recognized and unappreciated. Utilize simple, concise language, and if appropriate, a little “personality.” Send a message you would want to read.
  3. Learn to be the same person in different rooms. There’s a theory that inauthentic individuals are different people in different rooms. For example, a businessperson conducting a presentation is likely smiling, engaging, and has an interactive presentation prepared. However, that same businessperson might be on a phone call in the hallway and speaking rudely to the person with whom they’re communicating with on the phone. Be the same person in different rooms. Be the smiling, engaging, and interactive person you are in the conference room as you are on the phone.
  4. Learn to listen. As much as you may need to communicate, it is also imperative that you balance listening. Sitting back and letting others drive meetings, opening the floor to new ideas and employee feedback, and understanding the thought and workflow processes of your employees can offer innovative solutions for workplace issues.
  5. Practice what you preach. As the old adage advises, hypocrisy is the greatest indicator of inauthenticity. Be the example by which you want your employees to follow. You might need to take a step back and re-evaluate a process or business structure to create a more balanced and effective work model that doesn’t make you out to be a hypocrite.

Empathy in the Workplace. Empathy is critical, especially among leadership and executive teams, as it indicates interest in others’ wants and needs, as well as compassion for others. Lack of empathy can lead to individuals or teams feeling unappreciated and thus, may become unproductive, dissatisfied with their work, and impact the company’s revenue. Empathy influences work performance through strengthened relationships and assist in promoting a more collaborative, positive work environment. An empathetic workplace can offer an enriched corporate culture, which in turn provides increased employee engagement, retention rates, work performance, employee satisfaction, and stronger interpersonal relationships among staff.

Resolving Workplace Conflicts. 85% of employees report experiencing workplace conflict, with 49% of workplace conflicts resulting from personality or ego differences.[2] While workplace conflicts may be commonplace, it is imperative leaders have effective, detailed policies and procedures in place to expedite resolution and avoid creating a hostile work environment.

A simple approach to resolving workplace conflicts is to schedule a date and time to address the conflict. Before beginning the meeting, set some ground rules for the meeting, such as allowing each side to express their side of the situation. Then mediate the meeting to avoid accusatory language and focus on the behaviors instead of personal attacks. Once an agreement is reached, strategize next steps, including preventative measures for future conflicts. Be sure to conclude the meeting with something positive.

Not all workplace conflicts require management involvement; however, severe incidents may require human resources to immediately step in, such as a personal attack or general disrespect towards another, threats to quit as a result of a conflict, or a conflict that effects a department, the company, or group of individuals. You should seek additional help when/if the conflict results in aggressive behavior (i.e., harassment, workplace violence, etc.), legal issues, and/or you lack adequate training to mediate such conflict.

If you have office politics that may be creating a hostile work environment, or other workplace conflicts, please reach out to VensureHR. We provide human resources specialists who can assist with customized HR services for your business needs. Contact VensureHR to develop an employee handbook to address workplace politics and other office policies that can enhance your office culture.

[1] Empathy in the Workplace

[2] Resolving Workplace Conflicts