Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Creating a Happy Work Culture

Wellbeing Labyrinth 

How can managers and executives create a happy work culture? By developing a style of transactional leadership. Let us examine some of the practical ways in which this can be applied to promote wellbeing in ATC.

The leadership style is a transactional one in much the same way a commercial transaction takes place but in this scenario managers and executives are trading parts of their personalities as they interact with employees. We are going to use the analogy of a fruteria on Las Ramblas, a major street in Barcelona, to illustrate the use of transactional style in promoting wellbeing.
As you approach the fruteria you will observe the wide display of fruit, juices and pictures of fruit. Surprisingly, the vendor and his wife speak a variety of languages and they help you select a juice of your liking or preference. The dialogue ends when you make your selection. You end the commercial transaction by paying for the juice and you are happy. You can walk for another hour. The principles of transactional style leadershp for promoting wellbeing are the same. 
Your state of happiness as the consumer, started before you drank the juice. It started when you observed the pictures and a well-arranged stall. What do you think of the idea of having in the ATC unit at least 1 painting that illustrates wellbeing? It could be abstract as the paintings used for the posts or of landscapes which indicate balance between the elements of nature or it could simply be of people resting like the woman in Picasso's Rest. The paintings will not only induce mental and emotional happiness but they also encourage the observer to recognize the benefit of work-life balance.

The Spectrum for Happiness 

In addition, the work environment like the stall is well-arranged. It does not have the appearance of being cluttered or disorganized and the work area is not drab or boring. A seemingly minor thing as the interior colours or the design of the work environment can detract from wellbeing. However, the work culture can also become cluttered or disorganized with unnecessary meetings, improper usage of memos and the simultaneous use of ATCOS and assistants on a plenitude of projects. This shows a lack of consideration for the human aspect of the profession. It is also indicative of an acute lack of organizational strategy and an absence of clearly defined policies. 
The ability of the vendor and his wife to communicate in a variety of languages is an enhancement for their fruteria business. Imagine the challenge if they could not speak your language and you had to communicate that you wanted cantaloupe smoothie instead of watermelon juice. Add several other thirsty customers and the challenge increases because you now have a few seconds to communicate your preference. But there is no difficulty because they speak your language. You understand each other. 
In addition, while you are speaking with the vendor and his wife, they smile pleasantly and they are kind, giving you the attention you need in spite of the other customers, some of whom seem to think that they are near death for lack of liquid.  Satisfied with the service, you pay for your juice which is slightly more expensive than what is offered in the Boqueria Market, a 5 minute walk away.  But you do not mind because you are happy.

In promoting wellbeing, the importance of communicative style and the body language of managers and executives cannot be overemphasized. Yes, what managers say and how they say it reveals much about themselves and their ability to make other employees feel either that they belong or that they are underdogs and  the unit belongs to the executive. When managers and executives act in this manner, they transfer increased emotional stress and duress which counteract wellbeing.
The vendor of this fruteria improved the fruit concept by selling a variety of fresh juices in addition to fruit. Managers and executives can also be innovative in promoting wellbeing in simple, cost-effective ways. How do you feel about providing free, fruity alternatives daily for ATCOs and support staff: fresh fruit juice, fruit salad variations and fruit baskets?
Today we looked at transactional style leadership and the C aspect of the ABC of promoting wellbeing. Remember, A is for addressing the issues that pertain to stress, health and work-life balance. B stands for being exemplary and is for creating a happy work culture. In the next post we will consider what ATCOs and support staff can do.

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