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  • Dr. Neal Nybo

How praise and purpose create positive company culture




Dr. Pragya Agarwal has written for Forbes that, “A positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.”


There are many suggestions for improving an organization’s culture

Articles abound. Insperity.com and Slack.com both offer six ways. Engagedly.com, recommends eight. I have spent a lot of time thinking of ways to break down workplace positivity into bitesize pieces that any manager or supervisor can do. Let me share just two micro-actions of kindness any of us can do.


2 ways managers can create a positive company culture


1. Praise others

A manager’s opinion matters, especially to their employees. In the office we may get teased, corrected, and questioned publicly but seldom praised.




To praise publicly means to celebrate, thank, or recognize someone in front of others, not in big, grand ways that might even embarrass them but in small ways. Just remember, it’s a micro-action. For example, when we are standing in the workroom at the office with a group of people casually milling about, we can do a micro-action of public praise by saying to one of them across the room, hey, I really appreciate how you jumped in on that project last week and the results were outstanding.

By doing this we demonstrate we genuinely value what they do.

In the world of business, public praise is a manager’s easiest way to increase employee engagement by telling someone their values and the company’s are in alignment.


2. Have a sense of purpose

People need to have a sense of purpose at work. Their happiness is directly connected to knowing that they make a difference. Here is a personal story from my writing partner, Nicole Phillips about how she developed her sense of purpose.


Picture yourself in the fourth grade. You’re sitting hunched over with your head on your desk, eyes closed and nose smelling the familiar combination of pencil lead and pink eraser. Your arm is extended and your thumb is up.




Do you recognize this posture? It’s the beginning of the game Heads Up Seven Up. If I’m speaking a foreign language to your younger self, let me explain. The game is pretty simple. Kids sit with their heads down and their thumbs up in front of them. The chosen few (usually seven) walk around the classroom and push down someone’s thumb. The kids who were touched then get to guess who picked them. The game continues with those kids choosing new kids by pushing down new thumbs.


Imagine my confusion when one of my Kindness Team members suggested I use the game for an upcoming workshop.


How could a childhood game possibly relate to reducing negativity in the workplace?

I took my team’s advice and decided to give it a try. Fifty-plus salespeople and executives sat at round tables and listened as I explained the game and chose people to be the first thumb pushers. No one guessed who touched them in round one, but we had a lot of laughs. We played again. Again, no one could guess who touched them, but the room continued to loosen up.


Finally, I asked the building question: For those of you who had your head down and your thumb up, what was going through your mind?

Immediately, a woman shouted, “Pick me!” Others in the room nodded their agreement adding, “I wanted to be picked.”


How does this relate to reducing negativity in the workplace and actually creating a workplace in which you’d want to work?


It reminds us of the very basic principle of human nature. We want to be noticed. We want to be picked. We go about our day doing the assigned tasks, but there is always a part of us longing to be acknowledged and appreciated.


It’s not like we’re a culture of Golden Retrievers who constantly need to be pet, but if you really want to create an atmosphere of productivity and positive interchanges, you might want to start giving your employees, co-workers, and customers a little more intentional attention.


Have a sense of purpose. Make your purpose the recognition of others and positivity wherever you go. Once that is you purpose, you will find ways to accomplish it. Along the way, you will find yourself happier, more fulfilled, and helping to build a positive company culture. Nicole and I can help you get started.


How to get started with positivity in your organization

A couple years ago, my writing partner, Nicole Phillips, and I turned our passions and interests in kindness toward companies and organizations. We combed through hundreds of suggestions and best practices we have received and developed during our speaking and coaching careers. We settled on 30 micro-actions of kindness any of us can do. These are actions so small they will fit into any busy manager or supervisor’s schedule. Some are self-reflective, some have instant impact on others and some are just fun. We collected them along with stories and data to support them. Then, we created personal worksheets for each micro-action. We took all of that and put it into an oversized guide and workbook called Workplace Positivity.


Workplace Positivity


Nicole and I devote much of our time to training management teams and leaders to eliminate negativity by personally practicing some of these micro-actions of kindness. These aren’t sleepy mandatory sessions. We bring the vibrant joy that comes with sharing kindness. We have more stories, more insights, and more micro-actions than any company, organization, or team can possibly use.


Every story, insight and action we share with your team will multiply until you are sharing and overflowing with your own.


Either of us, or both of us, will be happy to work with you to create a customized training and presentation for you weekly staff meeting, quarterly training event, or annual conference. We have presentations from an hour to multiple days.


Now it’s your turn.

In the comments, tell me your #1 takeaway from this post and how you plan to use it in your workplace?


Want more? Click here for a free excerpt from Workplace Positivity with three micro-actions.





Workplace Positivity will be published in early March 2021.

For a free excerpt or to learn more about the work I am doing, go to NealNybo.com

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