Creating a Productive and Happy Workplace – Ask HR Bartender

Here’s a very kind note from a reader about workplace culture and its impact on employees.

I came across your insightful writings and really wished I could work in an organization where you were the HR Manager!

I’m presently in a situation which is tremendously affecting not only my professional life but personal life as well. During my 5 year career at this organization, my team manager is trying to break my self-confidence. I feel extremely demotivated in my work and in the improvement strategies my manager has suggested. The same thing has happened to two other employees who joined this organization around the same time as me.

As an experienced HR professional, I would just like to know whether or not this act is totally against creating a happy and productive workforce.

First of all, thank you for the very kind words about my writing. It’s greatly appreciated! Now on to your question.

It’s immaterial whether I believe your manager is or isn’t creating a happy and productive workforce. The important part is what you think. And from your note, I’m guessing you feel your manager isn’t being supportive of you and your work.

motivation, work, employees, behavior, culture, values, ideas, information, happy, productive

Why that’s happening, honestly I don’t know. But I couldn’t help focusing on the self-confidence issue in your note. Is it possible that your manager lacks some self-confidence? Or maybe you just have more confidence than your manager?

Self-confidence is a balancing act. Some people view self-confidence as a negative trait. They see it as arrogance or narcissism. That doesn’t mean it is. Often our culture can impact how we view confidence. Not just our personal culture but our professional culture.

For example, there are organizations that promote their competitive culture. A culture where employees need to have a lot of confidence in their own abilities. And where they must be willing to brag a little about their accomplishments in order to be successful. If that company hired someone who felt uncomfortable tooting their own horn, well…it could be a challenge for them and the people working around them.

Whenever I’m stumped by a person’s behavior, I try to step back from the situation and ask myself what I think is motivating their actions. It usually boils down to three things:

Information – This is when someone is motivated by data or reasoning. Their actions suggest they are trying to put things in some sort of logical methodical manner. Because that’s how they want to deal with things. Even when logic and reasoning might not exist.

Values – A person trying to create the ideal state. It’s all about the potential or the possibilities. Regardless of the realities, they are motivated by the future.

Ideas – Taking action is the name of the game. A person wants to do something…anything. Because movement can only be a good thing, right?

Understanding what motivates a person’s behavior can help make sense of why they “do what they do”. It won’t always change the relationship but, it can create an appreciation for that person’s talents. Or, at lease, a point of empathy.

Image courtesy of Deirdre Honner


  1. says

    @Laurie – Your comment made me laugh. Thanks!

    @Pulasthi – True. If the company has some metrics, this could be helpful. I once worked someplace where we tracked employee grievances. It was helpful in seeing trends.

  2. says

    I dig your reponse to your reader’s note. Your I.V.I formula does provide a path to understanding and gaining empathy for the actions of others. That’s a good starting point when finding yourself in an environment, personal or corporate, that fosters negativity.

    When at that starting point, there is a fantastic opportunity to make a decision. In my experience, the next step is making a conscious decision about how you’re going to deal with that situation. What I’ve discoveredd over the years is that no matter my environment, I’m only as happy as I decide to be.

    I always have the ability to make a decision that will change my environment, no matter how big or small. I always understand that my actions may affect not only me, but others as well.

    It’s difficult, sometimes even scary to make a decision and take action that creates change. However, reflecting on my own experience, deciding to be happy within an enviornment, even if it’s about the smallest thing, makes a HUGE difference in developing my own positive outcome.

    That’s what works for me.