During our childhood years we have grand plans for our future. We dream of growing up into superheroes, princesses or monster truck drivers, and then poof! It’s supposed to happen. Eventually, reality sets in, and we realize that it takes hard work and dedication to build that workplace for ourselves and our teams.
Before writing this article, we spent some time pondering, well, what is the dream workplace? We came to the answer that it’s where people feel happy and self-sufficient. Then we conducted some field research and dug out four components that seem to make it so.
Don’t be afraid of giving feedback
In our previous articles, we mentioned that a prosperous company culture starts with transparency and trust. Now it’s a good time to say that transparency and trust start with giving feedback.
Building a functioning feedback environment is a tough nut to crack. It requires striking a balance between giving favorable feedback (compliments) and unfavorable feedback (complaints), while preserving the credibility of both. However, our research shows that it’s worth trying. A good feedback environment gives people the flexibility to act quicker, to communicate their problems and to find out-of-the-box solutions.
One more thing to add here is that a feedback-oriented environment works even better within self-managed teams. As it turns, self-management enables people to actively seek feedback instead of patiently waiting for it. In this case, all the benefits of the feedback environment come faster, people get keener on their jobs, and, they say, even the sun shines brighter.
Freedom, responsibility, and ownership
It’s a basic human right, and freedom is also necessary to feel happy at work. In short, we don’t think that you’ve been locking your team up in the cellar, but do they feel that way? Creating a dream workplace takes more effort than just letting people out of the office at the end of the day.
By freedom, we mean the possibility to control your own working time, to express ideas and simply to be yourself all the time. During our research, we figured out that people feel inspired whenever they have the right to choose something: their tasks, their development plans, or their schedule.
Freedom is tightly connected with the other two notions: responsibility and ownership. When giving your team freedom of choice, you should also make sure that they comprehend their responsibility over its consequences. The combination of two creates a feeling of ownership within a team. And according to recent research, psychological ownership is one of the best triggers of job commitment and satisfaction.
It all boils down to the fact that by giving your team both freedom and responsibility over their work and nurturing their feelings of ownership, you come closer to building a genuinely happy workplace.
“It takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place; if you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that”, Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice Through the Looking Glass. Fine words for today’s IT industry, indeed. Technologies are developing at a very fast pace, and to stay at the top people need to develop even faster.
Dream workplaces must foster team members’ personal development. We are not just talking about regular self-evaluation sessions, workshops or even financial support for employees’ learning. You need to create an atmosphere where people are not afraid to try something new. Engage your team in dives into unconventional tasks and never blame them for failures. That’s how we learn.
Company culture and family feeling
Company culture is an essential workplace component. Our research showed that there are four main characteristics of a “good” culture:
- Uniqueness and bond. Think of something that makes your company unique and then use it to bond your team together.
- Inclusiveness. Company culture should keep its doors opened for everyone and accept people as they are.
- Knowledge-sharing. Encourage your team to share their insights and experience with each other. This is not only an efficient way to learn, but also a good basis for building friendly relations.
- Care. We’ve mentioned that a family-like culture is a good thing to have in a company. If you don’t want to go that far, try to show care for every member of your team and encourage them to do the same.
When all these components come together, there is a great chance that they will create a unique environment in which people feel welcomed not only to work but also to improve themselves and their results.