How would you describe the culture in your workplace? Perhaps you have a culture of fun, in which everyone is constantly joking and messing about, or maybe you have a culture of fear, in which everyone is worried or afraid to make mistakes or try something new?

Every organisation has a culture, whether it’s written down or not, and sometimes even if it is, it doesn’t match reality. (Read our article about how can companies live up to their company cultures here)

Last week, we talked about emotional culture, and most of these cultures centred around basic emotions. But what about those characteristics that distinguish us as human beings? Is it possible to incorporate them into the workplace?

Here are three types of cultures that we should all look to adopt:

Culture of forgiveness

Have you ever made a mistake at work and been afraid to speak up or face the consequences? Have you ever been doubtful of your ability as a result of a screwup?

No one enjoys making mistakes, but for many people, making them is significantly more difficult.

According to research, 66% believe that talking about their faults will make them vulnerable to rejection or mockery from others and 55% believe they will lose other people’s respect if they admit they’ve made a mistake.

However, it is human to make mistakes, and there is much to be learned from them. In fact, our missteps teach us more than our achievements.

workplaceAccording to studies, forgiveness is linked to positive traits such as love and empathy. Even more, developing the virtue of forgiveness has been shown to have benefits to physical, mental, emotional, and social health in individuals. 

When it comes to forgiveness, many businesses believe that it entails reducing their standards. However, research shows that forgiveness is not the same as tolerance for mistakes. Instead, forgiveness facilitated excellence, growth, and improvement rather than inhibiting it.

Creating a culture of forgiveness implies viewing mistakes in a new light, viewing them as opportunities to learn and grow. It’s all about how we respond when something bad happens.

How to foster a culture of forgiveness in the workplace

Consider mistakes as opportunities to learn. (Read our article about failure)

Avoid blame. Even if someone or a few people are responsible for the mistake, don’t dwell on it. Instead, focus on solutions and how to prevent making the same mistake again. 

Recognise and accept negative emotions. We all have emotions, and when something negative occurs, we are likely to experience anger or sadness. Fostering forgiveness does not imply that we must hide our feelings; instead, it means that we acknowledge and move past them.

Culture of vulnerability

Have you ever admitted being afraid or that you don’t understand something at work? Another fantastic attribute that we should encourage more regularly at work is vulnerability.

Leadership has evolved in recent years, and we believe that leadership will become more authentic, open, and trustworthy in the future. However, all of this will not be possible unless we begin to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

workplaceFurthermore, vulnerability benefits not only leaders but for everyone in the organisation. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change,” says Brené Brown, who has studied vulnerability in the workplace for years.

One of the characteristics of vulnerability is curiosity. We progress when we admit we don’t know something but want to learn more about it.

She also says that “vulnerability minus boundaries is not vulnerability”. You need to choose the right place, time, and people to show your vulnerability.  

Furthermore, being vulnerable demonstrates courage because you are willing to show up and do the work despite not knowing what will happen. And this is something that your entire staff will value. We all want to be a part of something, and when we know that the people on our team are prepared to work through difficulties, we are more likely to stick with them.

How to foster a culture of vulnerability

Acknowledge emotions. Don’t hide your feelings. Rather, focus on recognising and sharing them with others. Do the same with others too. Ask them how they feel and have these conversations. 

Set an example for others. It’s not easy for anyone to show vulnerability, but someone has to start somewhere. People will lower their guards if they understand that it is OK to be vulnerable.

Culture of discomfort

And the third, but by no means the least important is being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Whilst being uncomfortable is not something that we usually look forward to, it’s out of our comfort zones where we learn and grow. 

Promoting a culture of discomfort will also prepare us to deal better with uncertainty and change. It will also help us in dealing with all of these difficult situations, such as uncomfortable conversations.

How to foster a culture of discomfort

Let people know that it’s okay to be uncomfortable and that making errors is part of the learning process.

Encourage situations that make people uncomfortable (without going overboard) and explain why you are doing it. 

Deal with emotions. Speak to people if they are feeling uncomfortable. Don’t shy away from difficult discussions or leave individuals alone with their thoughts. Just talking about it can sometimes make us feel a lot better.

The Optimist View…

For a long time, the workplace was an environment where emotions didn’t have a place. Fortunately, this is changing, and businesses are seeing the value of treating people as individuals rather than numbers.

At Optimist Performance, we believe that integrating all of the traits above is the best way to foster a great workplace and an environment where people can flourish and achieve their full potential. 

We work with leaders and teams to create a winning culture with optimistic, contagious behaviours.

Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you.