I came across an article at Edutopia.com on building a positive staff culture. I thought back over my work lifetime and realized, as many people do, that there were some great teams I worked with but far more bad ones than good ones. I know I am not alone.

Here at the Network we have the advantage of having very good leadership, a good skilled team of people; we have a positive staff culture and employee longevity. I’ve been here the shortest period at 8 years!

Your staff want to make a difference, they want to be engaged in their work with a sense of purpose. So what does it take to build a strong positive staff culture? I say, hands down, good leadership; to me it is paramount. A good leader, like a good parent, nurtures and develops their staff. A good leader:

• Hires skilled staff, but more than that they hire people who fit well within the existing culture.
• Is positive and complimentary when you do a good job.
• Provides training, this can sometimes be just giving the time to someone to learn a new skill.
• Listens and encourages open dialogue.
• Has your back; when you know your boss sticks up for you, it makes you feel important.
• Leads by example, ie. walks the talk
• Does not micromanage. I had a boss who consistently did this. It got to the point that I had to constantly ask him what the priority was. Even today I do not dislike this boss because he taught me a lot of interesting ways to analyze data.

This is a tall order. Once you establish a great culture, maintaining it should be so much easier. Things happen, sometimes the wrong personality is hired and they start to affect the culture. As a good leader this is where your open communications comes in handy. If you’ve built-in the tools, you can handle just about anything.

You want to know how you are doing? Interviewing your employees that have stayed with you the longest can give you an idea of why they stayed. I’ve always been a fan of the 360 degree performance appraisal. This is where you, as a leader, get to be assessed on your effectiveness, just like your employees. This isn’t a bad thing. You’ve built your positive culture; what can be done to improve it, what have you done right. A staff/leader performance appraisal should be just that…

How do I assess the Network and it’s leadership? A+