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Business Lesson

Wish you were here?

hat does it take to

create a workplace

that people

look forward to

returning to each day? It’s all about

being real and going out of your way

to give your team what they need.

Forget the snazzy furniture, free

snacks, and Bring Your Dog to Work

Days, forming an authentic corporate

culture is more about introspection

than interior design.

Business leaders must focus on

human needs, not trends, to build the

type of workplace that makes people

happy to hop out of bed, yawn, stretch ...

and then get to work. Are you ready to

make your office a destination, not just

an obligation? Then you’ll need to know

some basic psychology and be ready to

exercise your imagination a bit.

First, consider how your

organisation satisfies the three human

cravings, identified by author Daniel

Pink in his book

Drive: The surprising

truth about what motivates us

. These exist

for everyone, whether they work for pay

or not. Pink says, in some area of our

lives, we all need:

the freedom to make decisions on

our own

an opportunity to build expertise

at some activity

participation in an effort that is

larger than the task at hand

When employees experience these

things at work, they feel both satisfied

and empowered. This combination is

a great motivator to do a good job, and

to keep coming back for more. If you’re

a leader, your job is to consider how to

enable people to achieve those things in

your line of work.

Put yourself in your employees’

shoes. You might ask how a factory line

worker can exercise a little independent

thinking, or how an office clerk could

master a valued skill. You might think

about how the long-term vision for

your company serves a greater need in

the world, instead of just the wish to







command a huge market share.

You can satisfy these human needs

automatically by attending to seven

fundamental aspects of corporate

culture. When it all clicks, people will

feel more passionate about their work

and have more fun doing it. Set aside

a full week and put together a plan for

working on each area.

Day 1,


The free flow of

information keeps

people honest and

accountable, and

able to make their

own decisions in line

with your business.

How open are the

communication channels

at your company? Does

everyone know who

does what and whom to

turn to for help? Can every staff member

approach anyone in the organisation

with questions or ideas?

When you attend to these issues,

it becomes harder for individuals to

sidestep their obligations. As everyone

pulls their weight, teams become more

cohesive and productive. Transparency

shows that you take ethics seriously, and

that you’re all part of a larger effort.

Day 2,


A positive attitude to challenges

and obstacles keeps morale high and

teams looking for solutions, instead of

continually putting out fires. Do your

teams evaluate strengths as well as

weaknesses when problem-solving? Do

they do this before trouble happens, or

just after the fact? Do you let individuals

build on their achievements?

Consider your own attitude when

you walk in the door each day. When

you dwell on what’s not working,

you perpetuate a negative spiral that

pervades everyone’s environment. If

there’s a problem, don’t just complain,

address it. If there’s not, shout about

what’s going right.

Day 3,


It’s important to use standard metrics

to evaluate business and employee

performance, to keep the process

objective and fair. Do you survey or

informally ask employees for their

feedback, rather than evaluating only

from the top down? Do you share this

information and act on it?

The perception that what you

don’t know won’t hurt the business is

false. When people harbour doubts or

grudges, they can’t give their all. They

become defensive, or offensive, in social

interactions, demoralising your teams.


“You might think

about how the

long-term vision

for your company

serves a greater

need in the

world, instead of

just the wish to

command a huge

market share”