Has anyone else felt King Arther's fables could be resurrected in the meeting room? Unfortunately, many of us are stuck in the same situation: a long meeting table with the C-suite in the power chair while everyone in the meeting hides behind the person next to them, avoiding getting called on. Instead, we should foster an open conversation between all employees to bring problems from the frontline upward. But how do we foster this both inside and outside the conference hour?
The Round Table may be a well-known concept, but the simplicity yet effectiveness of its nature is often overlooked. Instead of over-complicating important qualities like equalizing the workplace, here are five actionable leadership tips you should implement to create a culture that fosters equality, unity, and empathy.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the fictional character, King Arthur of Camelot, he was a respected leader that built an empire with his knights at the round table- a gesture to promote equality instead of the "top-down" model we see today. Each member was equally respected and had a say in the kingdom's direction. To translate this into the modern workplace, start by promoting open dialogue between all employees- from the front line to management.
How can you accomplish this? The first step is to start with the basics. Promote a zero-tolerance policy for workplace discrimination and bullying. Many resources provide an inclusive environment for all genders, races, religions, and beliefs. Equality starts with everyone being equal, despite their backgrounds.
King Arthur built one of the most legendary kingdoms that reigned peacefully and in prosperity. How can you foster your own Camelot in the workplace?
This starts by creating a culture of integrity and honesty. Employees are human, and we all go through great times and challenging times [whether professionally or personally.] Often, leaders forget that no individual can operate at one hundred and ten percent all the time. This leads to companies creating impossible demands while striving for perfection and metrics, and ultimately, employee burnout and loss of motivation.
While jobs need to be done, adding a sense of compassion, empathy, and flexibility when necessary is essential for companies to create a workplace that people will be proud to contribute to. Doing this will not only make your workplace more humanized and reduce employee turnover, but it will also lead to better decision-making for the company as a whole. After all, communication and transparency are key for a business to succeed.
Continuing with the importance of communication, ensuring that all employees feel comfortable enough to speak up is essential to opening up the floodgates of communication. This starts by physically and emotionally removing the hierarchy feel of your organization. Although you will still need an organizational chart in place, give your employees a safe space to encourage a great exchange of thoughts and ideas. That's truly where the magic happens.
Ways to create this space is by using "I" statements as a leader. For example, instead of asking employees what they think about a certain situation, the boss could say, "I feel like we could achieve X goal if we did Y." This puts everyone on the same level, and you'll find employees are much more likely to converse. Bonus, you'll get creative strategies and ideas for your business by doing this.
Finally, listening to employees when they speak up is essential. Showing that their thoughts and opinions are valued will encourage them to continue sharing in the future. This could be done through an email, Slack message, or even a handwritten note.
After all, you want your employees to feel like they are part of the team and not just another cog in the machine.
In order to create a more human workplace, it's important to focus on the connection over the competition. Create an environment where employees feel like they are working together instead of against each other.
One way to do this is by setting goals as a team rather than individually. This way, everyone is working towards the same thing, and no one is left feeling like they are carrying the team's weight.
Another way to foster connection is by celebrating successes as a team. This could be done through something as simple as buying lunch for everyone on the day a big project is completed. Doing this shows your employees that you value their hard work and see them as more than just a number.
Finally, it's important to remember that connection doesn't always have to be about work. Getting to know your employees on a personal level [to a healthy extent] will go a long way in creating a more human workplace. Be part of the celebrations like weddings and babies, and be there during difficult times like the loss of the loved one.
Lastly, in order to create a more human workplace, it's important to offer chances to all levels of employees. This means giving people the opportunity to move up within the company, regardless of their position. You may be surprised when a more introverted individual may bring but never have the courage to show it. Open-door policies are a start, but actually engaging with employees one on one yields more fruitful results.
So there you have it, five tips where you can Round Table your workplace. By implementing these tools, you will hopefully find a workplace that people genuinely enjoy working for and being a part of.