Building a Great Workplace When Leaders Aren't On Board

Building a Great Workplace When Leaders Aren't On Board

Three Ideas Managers Can Implement Without Waiting for Permission

Of all the excuses for not becoming a great workplace, lack of leadership buy-in is the most formidable. But before you give up your dream of a great workplace, consider that your leaders may not see the value of a great workplace. If this is the case, then now is the time to use your powers of persuasion to share with them how research has proven that great workplace practices increase productivity and profitability, and reduces turnover.

If reasoning with leaders does not work, you can always create a great workplace in your department, and in time those same leaders who “didn’t get it” will most likely be clamoring for you to help them replicate your results throughout the rest of the company.

1. Use Your Resources and Authority
While budgets and buy-in are nice if you can get them, they aren’t essential to your mission. All you really need is the desire and ability to develop trust-based relationships with your employees. As you reach out to them to build trust, pride and camaraderie in the workplace, you’ll find they will do the same. Stay focused on those things that you can influence, and in time, your sphere of influence will increase and open doors that were once closed.

2. Handle Tough Mandates in a way that Builds Trust
Even if you work hard to make people a priority in your group, sometimes decisions passed down from leaders (i.e. layoffs, budget cuts and restructures) won’t align with that priority. When these things happen, the best leaders do the following:

  • Be authentic, honest and forthright with your employees about what has to be done.
  • Do not sugarcoat tough tasks because it dismisses the feelings of employees and impedes trust.
  • Use adversity as a catalyst to bond with your people and work together to develop solutions.
  • Listen to and support your team throughout the process.

3. Create a Great Department
In every organization there are departments, divisions and locations where employees enjoy a great workplace experience. These little pockets of greatness do not happen on their own, but are carefully cultivated by managers who persist against all odds. You can be that manager. To get started, try adopting the practices listed below that these managers have in common.

  • Create a strong sense of identity in your department.
  • Adopt a healthy mindset that treats cognitive obstacles as issues to be overcome.
  • Use whatever power and position you have to build trust, pride and camaraderie.
  • Lead by example and use your influence to inspire employees.

By starting small and focusing on areas that are within your control, your efforts toward greatness may just change some minds in the upper reaches of your company.

Download the No Excuses! Whitepaper to learn more about how any manager can overcome the most common challenges to building a great workplace.

Jennifer Robin, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow, former Senior Consultant with Great Place To Work® Institute, and co-author of No Excuses: How You Can Turn Any Workplace Into a Great One and The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters.