Workplace character is a necessary part of character development. It is imperative for staff to adhere to moral guides that allows them to freely strive for the highest form of character.
The 11 Principles sets a wonderful example for cultivating good character in all environments. These principles are valuable in schools, workplaces, homes, and sport teams. They set a blueprint for people to create spaces where positive character is fertilized daily.
When it comes to workplace character, Principle 4 is a great stepping stone for employers and employees alike to actualize character formation. It hinges on creating a caring community where people develop genuine relationships toward one another to create a climate of support and care.
A Caring Environment Makes Workplace Goals Attainable
Creating a caring environment means building a space where people are able to support one another. This allows work to be accomplished successfully.
When I came to work with Character.org months ago, something I noticed was the reliability the staff had on one another. They worked side by side and encouraged each other in ways that helped them meet looming deadlines. An example of this was the staff meetings that was held weekly.
These meetings gave opportunities for people to update the team on the work they accomplished the previous week. After presenting, time was allotted for questions. These moments allowed each staff member an opportunity to not only voice their responsibilities, but alleviate themselves by delegating tasks to other staff members if he/she was drowning in work.
I remember Sheril Morgan, our Director of Schools of Character recently saying to one of our staff, “We want you to know that we care for you, and would like to share responsibilities. We want to take some things off your plate so you are not overwhelmed.” This type of genuine care and concern allows the opportunity for growth not only in the one being assisted, but also in the one offering that assistance.
Be Intentional – Get to know your Coworkers
There is great strength in knowing the people you work alongside. If you are an employer with a big organization or company, the thought of getting to know your hundreds of employees might seem overwhelming. However, there are ways to make this happen. You can start small. Gather up your regional directors and get to know them. Whether it is through staff retreats, visiting work sites, or monthly conference calls, create opportunities where you get to know these employees as people. Brainstorm with them ideas on how you can create a culture of authenticity and care. Afterwards, challenge them to take the practices to their branches and infuse them in their work spaces.
If you are an employer of a small business, carve out time in your schedule to visit your staff, or ponder different ways to bring the team together. I had a boss years ago who exemplified this very well. Even though his office was in a different location than where we worked, he visited us weekly. When he was there, he made sure to take a couple of minutes to talk to each person. My first time working there, I was pleasantly surprised to see that as big of a position that he held, he took the time to get to know everyone on staff – from those who worked in the office – to those who were cleaning. All of this didn’t happen in one day. It happened through months and years of deliberate intentionality.
If you are an employee, assess your relationships with your coworkers. Do you pass by them each day without much acknowledgement only to do your work for the day? Or are you taking intentional steps to get to know them? A simple, “How are you doing today?” or “How is your family doing?” could lighten anyone's day. Stop for a moment at your workplace and genuinely speak with a coworker. Ask them to go to lunch. Stop by their desk and tell them how much you appreciate the work they do. Sometimes that is all it takes for people to feel a part of the team.
The beauty in being intentional with those you work with is that it is something everyone can do. Employees and employers alike. There is no rush to it. It may take weeks, months or years to get to know someone, but when one expresses genuine curiosity and interest in those around them – especially coworkers they see on the regular bases – it naturally creates a climate of care. It gives people the freedom to be themselves. We see frequent arguments are dissipated, and ideas are shared freely
So I encourage you to reflect on your workplace culture. Ask yourself, "Is there a climate of care here?" If not I challenge you to take necessary steps that births such an atmosphere.
Freda Boateng worked as the Community Coordinator at Character.org. She now manages the blog platform.