Be intentional about your culture

Blog located in Small Business posted on November 26, 2015

“A Company’s culture cannot be bought at IKEA since we would not be able to read the instructions” says Michael Kerr, certified Speaking Professional and best-selling author.  “Be intentional about your culture,” he says.

Stress level in the workplace has never been so high

Studies have shown that assertiveness can help you control stress and anger and improve coping skills.  Wouldn’t you want your employees to be more productive and less stressed at work?

One of the best ways to foster  open communication is to create a safe work environment where employees can express their thoughts and push back without retribution. You can even go as far as listing the benefits your employees gain from practicing open communication.

Empathetic approach

The benefits of an empathetic approach are huge! In fact the number of Google searches for the word “empathy” has more than doubled, whereas searches for “sympathy” dove by 50%. Empathy is key to driving employee leadership and engagement.

Try this: gather employees for a meeting and give them a menu of things to talk about. Include a couple of personal questions like hobbies and interests. You’d be amazed by how little you know your people. This will set the tone for your other meetings and will open communication channels.

Foster positive energy at work

In order to transform your working environment from the fearing stage to the action mode stage, you need positive energy. Very much like going to the gym, in order to feel energetic, you need to exercise at least three times a week, eat a healthy diet to provide good nutrition to your body, and set aside time each day to reflect on your negative thoughts.  In order to initiate change, think about how you can turn a negative thought into a positive. For example, instead of saying “this is too hard,” say “let’s give it a shot.” Allow room for mistakes and celebrate successes.

Create a positive environment by adding light or happy art and positive sayings.  Treat your employees well. Don’t gossip.  On the contrary, look at how you can serve your colleagues and make it a positive environment!


Skillset is often the challenge to creating a culture of innovation.  Leaders must have the skills to listen, to draw people out and think about things before they start adding or changing. Most importantly, leaders must own the change themselves; only then can innovation become much more widespread.

The same skills are useful for learning in a multicultural environment. However, they’ll be used differently across cultures. For example, a client of mine originally from Thailand will not say, “I need this to be done,” but rather, “it would be nice to do this.” Therefore, if you don’t know this cultural trait, you will not understand the request. In today’s world, it’s an essential skill to learn about different cultures in order to manage them right and ensure they are engaged in the change, as opposed to being perceived as obstacles.

Add humour to your workplace

 “Humour, by its nature, tends to have an edge to it, so people typically tone it down at work,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do at Work. Michael Kerr says the amount or type of humour you’ll find in any given workplace depends almost entirely on the culture.

Foster humour in your workplace. “Do it because it’s the right thing to do,” says Michael Kerr.

Being intentional about your culture is being consistent, fostering open communication, keeping your sense of humour, being positive and encouraging innovative ideas. Work is hard enough as it is. Let’s not make it any harder!

Small Business Owners must also be HR Experts! 
No one said managing people was easy.  Staffing costs are increasing monthly.  Mis-steps are painful, damaging to your reputation, and can very expensive! 

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