When teams or entire organizations implode, it’s rarely due to poor business strategy or a lack of skill from higher-ups or employees. More often, the breakdown is caused by a lack of gratitude and appreciation throughout the organization’s culture.
There’s always going to be something frustrating about work. But focusing on what’s going wrong, instead of being grateful for What’s Going Well, drags everyone down, and not just personally: companies with negative cultures have higher employee turnover rates and burnout and lower employee engagement.
One quick way to diagnose your company’s culture is to pay attention to how you and your colleagues talk about your work, your clients, and your fellow coworkers. People in unappreciative cultures, ones that focus on what’s going wrong, use negative and unappreciative language. They say things like “Department X is so difficult to work with,” or “Our clients are clueless,” “or “I don’t like so-and-so.” These kinds of conversations put you and your whole team on the lookout for problems. And when we’re always looking for things that fall short of perfection, we will undoubtedly find them.
That means individual contributors—not just managers and company leaders!—have a significant role in how an organization’s culture develops. Keeping a What’s Going Well mindset on an individual level encourages everyone around you to be more optimistic. When everyone is thinking positively, your team’s interpersonal bonds and relationships will be stronger and more sincere. Those stronger relationships then lead to increased job satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty. Plus, there’s increasing evidence that companies and teams that can express gratitude and appreciation outperform peer organizations.
Every time someone thinks or hears What’s Going Well, it gets reinforced as part of the culture. In other words, an organization’s culture becomes What’s Going Well one What’s Going Well interaction at a time.