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The Top 10 Ways to Create a Sustainable Workplace™

So many companies today have been downsized without comprehending the long term implications for ongoing corporate success or even survival for those
left behind with vastly increased workloads and for those simply left out.
Ensure that your company is more than a survivor but a leader, a model of
continuing high profitability and inspired staff.

1. Spend your time on the big picture and delegate everything else to incredibly capable subordinates. Be a visionary, develop your intuition and creativity, read the runes, anticipate product and service cycles to ensure your company's economic future is always bright.

2. Have a well developed corporate mission and vision expressed around
ethical values. Ensure that these are embraced, practiced and spread by all your people, particularly executives, managers and supervisors, to permeate the whole corporation. Help those unwilling to wholeheartedly endorse and
practice your company's expectations find employment elsewhere.

3. Have all your executives, managers and supervisors trained as coaches or
work with their own coach. In today's workplace there is no longer time for the traditional, overseeing model of management. With downsizing and a shrinking management structure, more and more people are supervising others in different professional disciplines. Coaching provides the tools to deal with this and ensures that your employees continue growing as individuals, both personally and professionally.

4. Know the amount of work to be done monthly in your company, and the
number of people necessary to do it and hire them - the best! In today's economy many companies have been downsized by the bean-counting model, leaving insufficient staff resources for the amount of work to be done, let alone done well. When the staff:work ratio is right your people will rise to the extraordinary challenge every time, without burning out - but every day is too often!

5. Tell the truth. Increasingly we hear, for example, the importance of family life being acknowledged in the workplace. In those same places where family values and the importance of life outside of work are being touted, days of 12 hours or more, 6 days per week, remain the norm. Is there a contradiction here? Tell the truth in this and every other respect.

6. Acknowledge your staff. Endorsing your people's achievements person by person may be the best investment of your time you will ever make. For many, acknowledgement is a need, one they cannot be their best without … and if that is not enough motivation, we read that for many, acknowledgement is as important as a raise.

7. Actively promote team building. Teams have to be built at every level - shopfloor, through departments to senior management and board of directors. The strongest structures are round. If we imagine our organization as a circle of metal loops welded together, then its strength depends equally on each link and the welded connection between them. The links may be strong but the structure still falls when the welds fail. Ensure that everyone on your team is pulling in the same direction. This means exchanging information freely and being unfettered by interdepartmental or interdisciplinary protectionism. Help anyone who is unwilling to participate with enthusiasm join someone else's team, somewhere else.

8. When something goes wrong, start by assuming the best. When something does go wrong (rarely, we know!) how often do we jump into the fray, pounding the desk, frothing at the mouth and shouting to know who is responsible for this incredible incompetence? … only to discover that at best it was something we had not trained our staff to handle, at worst, something we had said which was ambiguous. Assume the best, honour your people and avoid embarrassing yourself!

9. Pay fairly. Pay is only one of many factors contributing to the sustainable workplace. Your company does not need to pay top dollar but it must pay a fair dollar. What is the range of compensation for this type of work and what else contributes to making your company one of the Top Ten best employers?

10. Be a responsible corporate citizen. Some employees will love you for it, others will have no interest at all, but do it anyway because it's the right thing to do and it comes with advantages which you will recognize.

About the submitter:
This piece was written by Martin Sawdon who can be reached at or visited on the web at

Martin has a special interest in people in the workplace and the creation of Sustainable Workplaces, corporations which are extraordinarily profitable, extraordinarily effective if public sector but get there by growing people rather than consuming them like a fossil fuel. He coaches clients with integrity and great senses of humor, who are determined to realize achievements beyond their wildest dreams.

Coaching-Works! has been featured on radio and television.

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