Boss Lady

How to create a culture of respect in your company (why it should stem from the CEO)


As a CEO, you want to be successful in all aspects of your career. A big part of this success is being able to create a positive, professional working environment for your employee and workplace culture. Maintaining an open, honest environment is something that every CEO should strive for. However, there are a few things to consider to be able to achieve this result. Business Woman Media have had the opportunity to speak to Annabelle Davidson, the founder and CEO of Social Playground, who has shared her top five tips on how to create a culture of respect in your organisation.

1. Be a boss, not a best friend

Lines are often blurred in today’s workplace, especially when the team is made up of young millennials. One of the more challenging lessons I have learned is making that shift from ‘friend-boss’ to a leader. A leader’s job isn’t to be best mates with everyone, but to bring out the best in everyone on the team. Sometimes that means making the tough business decisions that won’t be the most popular.

The start-up team is often comprised of friends with a very flat organisational structure. It’s all hands-on deck to get the job done, and you are working alongside your colleagues. As the business grows, creating an organisational hierarchy is key. Employees need leadership. An important part of being a great leader is providing feedback – both negative and positive. It’s takes a shift in mindset to see constructive feedback as just as important to the career progression and personal development of your team members. Some employees won’t recognise this as being a good thing, but the best team members will take it on board and grow professionally.

2. Don’t leave check ins to 6-month performance reviews 

The key to building a great team culture is regular check ins with everyone on the team. We conduct weekly or fortnightly 121 meetings to celebrate wins, address challenges and understand how everyone on the team is tracking. This provides a regular opportunity to provide feedback so that performance-related issues never come as a surprise. Addressing any issues in a timely manner ensures problems don’t fester, and everyone can move forward productively.

When regular check-ins are scheduled, the more official performance review process is frictionless. Team members already know what’s expected of them and what they should be working towards. 

 3. Walk the talk 

Creative a positive work environment takes hard work and commitment to being a positive role model 100% of the time. Every action and reaction that you take as a leader or CEO filters down through your team. The way you talk to clients, suppliers and your own team sets up the culture in how you communicate and how every representative within your company communicates too. Leading with empathy and conducting business with compassion will go a long way in building mutual respect with your team and creating a positive environment to do business. 

4. Empower your team to recognise each other

What better way to make your team feel encouraged than to allow them to hear it from their colleagues. Integrate ‘praises’ into your weekly catch ups and allow your team to recognise each other. This focusses everyone on the achievements of the past week and enables the team to recognise some things that you as a leader may not have seen. Weekly praises don’t need to be monetary. Just being acknowledged in front of your peers is enough to make someone feel appreciated and good about themselves for the rest of the day.

We also give each other ‘tacos’ (digitally) when anyone on the team does something great. This simple recognition builds team spirit and inspires everyone on the team to work hard. When you’re recognising an A-player team, no one wants to feel like the weakest link. It inspires everyone to work hard, collaboratively.

5. Make space to listen 

It’s critical that everyone on the team feels that they have a voice and that their ideas are listened to. A judgement-free workplace means that every idea will be put forward and considered without fear. As a boss or CEO, it’s easy to get busy and feel you don’t have time for all the questions, emails and interruptions. Making space to hear from everyone inspires proactivity and makes the team feel more invested in the company. Some of the best ideas and feedback come from the team on the front line who are dealing with customers.

Working to incorporate each of these tips into your workplace culture will lead any CEO and their organisation into the right direction. Creating a respectful and cohesive workplace for your team will allow your organisation to be the most successful it can be.

About Annabelle Davidson

Annabelle Davidson is the CEO and Founder of Social Playground, the first event-tech company in Australia to introduce the Instagram Hashtag Printer. Within just 5 years of transforming the events industry, Annabelle has disrupted the event-space by continuing to create interactive and innovative social media technology. Annabelle is also a young mother of two based in Sydney.

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