Creating a Better Work Environment
Let’s talk all about how to shape a better work environment. First, I want you to consider a few questions:
How do you currently feel about your work environment as an accountant, whether you’re a leader or an employee?
Have you noticed any specific challenges or issues in your workplace that affect your job satisfaction or productivity?
Do you believe that creating a better work environment is solely the responsibility of the organization, or do you recognize your own role in shaping it?
In the world of accounting, where precision, attention to detail, and complex calculations are the order of the day, creating a better work environment is not just a nice-to-have; it’s an essential factor that directly influences our quality of work and well-being.
While the demands of this profession can be an issue, studies show that a positive work atmosphere can significantly impact not only our productivity but also our job satisfaction.
Unfortunately, accounting firms and finance departments have long grappled with challenges such as employee conflicts, increased complaints, and decreased job satisfaction. Managers often find themselves frustrated by declining productivity and unprofessional conduct.
However, the key to understanding how to create a better work environment lies not only in recognizing these issues but, more importantly, in understanding who holds the power to create a better work environment.
Countless studies have revealed that regardless of generous benefits, flexible work arrangements, or state-of-the-art perks, an accountant’s job satisfaction and work experience are primarily influenced by their own thoughts and feelings.
That’s why the first step in crafting a more conducive work environment is the realization that you have control over how you show up and experience your workplace. Whether you are a boss or an employee, you do have control over creating a better work environment..
The critical lesson, whether you’re a boss or a colleague, is learning to manage your own mind and emotions and approaching your role from a clean, clear mindset. When you develop this skill, you present the best version of yourself, foster an environment that allows others to do the same, and remain open to personal growth.
The power to create a better work environment hinges on your ability to decide how you want to think, feel, and behave. It’s less about circumstances that aren’t within your control and more about how you choose to interpret those circumstances .
This episode is going to be all about the art of creating a better work environment, whether you’re a boss or an employee. I’m going to be sharing the key ingredients to crafting a work atmosphere that fosters success and well-being for all involved.
Creating a better work environment: When you are a Boss/Leader
Let’s start with the scenario where you’re the one in charge. If you’re listening to this, you’re likely not a horrible boss, but you might be looking for ways to create a better work environment.
You see, it’s not uncommon for leaders to find themselves in situations where employees aren’t getting along, there’s a lot of complaining, some job dissatisfaction, or maybe there’s some office gossip going on. Perhaps you’re frustrated with declining productivity or a lack of professionalism in the workplace.
Creating a better work environment as a leader begins with understanding that it’s not just about what you can do for your team; it’s about how you show up and experience the environment yourself. The truth is that your employees are responsible for how they choose to think and feel when they’re at work..
For example, let’s say you’ve got a team member who gets impatient when you don’t review their work quickly. You want them to be happy, so you rush to review their work before anyone else’s.
But here’s the problem – you end up feeling resentful because you’ve given up your weekend to appease this employee, probably thinking afterwards that they should be more appreciative of your effort.
Here’s the thing – when you manage others, the most important thing you can do is manage your own mind and come from a “clean space.” It’s about learning how to handle your thoughts and emotions.
When you master this, you become the best version of yourself, which, in turn, creates an environment that allows others to be their best selves too.
The truth is, you cannot control how your employees think and feel about their jobs. No amount of vacation days, fancy espresso machines, or flexible work arrangements can do that.
The real power you have in creating a better work environment is in learning to manage your own mind. It’s about deciding how you want to think, feel, and behave in a way that aligns with the results you want in your professional life.
So here are some questions to think about:
Who are you being when you’re at work?
Are you happy with how you show up at work?
Are you seeking validation from your employees?
Do your feelings depend on others?
What does being the “best version” of you look like?
Creating a better work environment happens for you (remember, that’s all you can control) when you have open and honest communication and limit your own mind drama. Managing people is best done when you are making sure you’re first managing your mind before you try to manage others.
So, as a leader, remember that you can’t control what your employees think or feel about you or their job, but you can control what you think and feel about them. In other words, your interactions with your team are fueled by your thoughts and emotions.
It’s not about being nice to manipulate their feelings; it’s about being nice because it feels good to you and, in turn, creates a better work environment for you.
Let me give you an example – I coached a senior manager at a mid-sized accounting firm. For years, she had struggled with an increasingly toxic work environment.
Her team had been having issues with infighting and a lack of collaboration, and she often found herself mediating conflicts between team members. Productivity was suffering, and the general atmosphere in the office was far from ideal.
She was determined to turn things around so she decided to take a different approach. Instead of merely reacting to conflicts and complaints, she took a proactive stance.
She initiated simple team-building activities, encouraged open communication, and provided a platform for employees to share their thoughts and concerns. Through one-on-one meetings with her team members, she discovered that several issues had been festering under the surface, including unresolved personal conflicts and unacknowledged achievements.
She was better able to address these issues with empathy and clear communication when she first learned how to manage her own mind. Because she was focused on what she could control, which was herself, she came up with the idea for a mentorship program, pairing seasoned accountants with junior colleagues to foster knowledge sharing and mutual support.
Over time, the work environment began to shift. Conflicts reduced, collaboration increased, and the team started to appreciate her commitment to their well-being and success.
The key to it all was that by first managing her mind, she felt less stressed. And when she felt less stressed, she showed up differently in her role as a leader.
In other words, by creating a better work environment for herself, she became an example to her team and made it possible for them to create a better work environment for themselves, whether they chose to or not..
Key Takeaway: As a boss or leader, the key to creating a better work environment is understanding that the only thing you can control is your own thoughts, emotions, and behavior; you cannot control how your employees think and feel at or about work.
Managing your mind and emotions and approaching your role with compassion and clarity is crucial. Remember that you have the power to create a positive work atmosphere by managing your own mindset and leading by example.
Creating a better work environment: When you are an employee
Let’s shift our perspective and look at what happens when you’re not the one calling the shots but instead are a part of the team – you’re the employee. You probably spend a significant portion of your waking hours at work, so it’s worth figuring out how to make that environment the best it can be.
As we all know, in the world of accounting, the demands can be considerable, and the hours can be long. You probably find yourself working with colleagues more than you see your own family, especially during busier times of the year like tax season.
Sometimes, the office might even feel like your second home. So, how can you, as an employee, make your work environment more inspiring, nurturing, and enjoyable?
It turns out, you have more power than you might think.
The truth is that when you work for someone else, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that you have limited control over your work environment. You might think you’re at the mercy of the company, your boss, or your coworkers to set the tone of the office.
The problem is that this belief can lead to frustration and stress, and you might even start exploring job opportunities elsewhere, thinking the “toxic” work environment is beyond your control.
But here’s the thing – the power to create a better work environment is not out of your hands. It’s in your head, in the way you manage your thoughts and feelings about your job, and in the way you choose to show up at work and even when you’re not there.
The first step to creating a better work environment is getting clear about who you want to be, regardless of anyone or anything else.
In other words, imagine your “dream job” – you’re doing the work you want, you have the perfect boss, and you’re surrounded by fantastic colleagues. Now, think about how that dream job would make you feel, how you’d approach your work differently, and whether you’d be proud of the way you show up each day.
For example, picture yourself in that dream job where you’re recognized for your expertise, and your boss values your contributions. How would you feel?
You’d probably feel confident, motivated, and engaged. In that ideal scenario, you’d approach your work with enthusiasm, always looking for ways to excel and grow. You’d take pride in your work, knowing that you’re making a meaningful impact.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for your dream job to experience those feelings, do better work, and feel proud of your daily contributions. The only difference between your current job and that dream job are your thoughts.
As I’ve shared before on this podcast, your job is just a neutral circumstance; it’s your thoughts about your job or your work environment that create your feelings.
The second step in creating a better work environment is being willing to let go of all the excuses you’ve been holding onto. Whether it’s your boss not recognizing your hard work or your coworkers not being the best of friends, your work environment’s experience isn’t determined by them; it’s determined by you.
You may have heard the saying, “You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can control your reactions.” This holds true in the workplace.
Your boss’s lack of recognition, your coworker’s indifference, or the overall office atmosphere doesn’t have to define your experience.
Now that you’re aware of what’s been shaping your work environment, the final step is deciding what you want your experience to be. This is where you take your power back:
If you want to feel like a valuable employee, imagine what that valuable employee would be thinking and doing. They might consistently produce high-quality work, actively participate in team discussions, and seek opportunities to contribute.
Or let’s say you want to feel respected by your boss, then imagine what a respected employee would be thinking and how they’d perform their job. They might proactively communicate, take initiative, and consistently meet or exceed expectations.
If you want to feel a connection with your coworkers, imagine what a connected employee would be thinking and how they’d interact with their colleagues. They might engage in open and supportive communication, seek common ground, and cultivate positive working relationships.
Let me give you an example of a client. He was an accountant working in a corporate finance department.
For a while, he had been feeling undervalued and overlooked at work. His contributions often went unnoticed, and he felt like just another number at the company. His coworkers, although pleasant, didn’t seem particularly interested in building personal connections.
Rather than waiting for recognition to come his way, he decided to take matters into his own hands. With my help, he recognized that his mindset was key to changing his work environment.
He started by actively participating in team meetings, offering fresh ideas, and volunteering to take on challenging projects. He took the initiative to communicate with his supervisor more frequently, not to complain but to share his progress, seek feedback, and discuss opportunities for growth.
In his interactions with coworkers, he shifted from a passive observer to an engaged team member. He began showing genuine interest in their work and personal lives.
He initiated conversations, asking about their weekend plans and hobbies, and actively listened when they shared their thoughts and concerns. His proactive approach led to more open and supportive communication with his colleagues.
Over time, his efforts paid off. His supervisor noticed his improved performance and dedication, and he was given more responsibilities and recognition.
By actively engaging with his colleagues, he created a warmer and more collaborative work environment where teamwork and mutual support thrived.
The truth is that creating a better work environment is within your control when you stop blaming your current situation on others. Remember, people don’t make you feel negative emotions; it’s your thoughts about people that do.
Remember, circumstances don’t have to change for you to feel better; you feel better when you change your beliefs about your circumstances.
By choosing thoughts that serve you, like “This company is lucky to have me” or “I respect the role I play on this team,” those thoughts can create a better work environment for you, no matter where you are or who you work with. Imagine how that would transform your work environment!
Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Creating the best work environment you can
So whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your career as an accountant, you know that the demands of this profession can sometimes feel like a non-stop rollercoaster. But there’s a secret to success that goes beyond just crunching the numbers – it’s about creating the best work environment you can, and it’s backed by brain science.
The thing is that your brain is constantly taking in information and making decisions. One part of your brain, the lower, primitive brain, the part I refer to as the Toddler, is like your built-in alarm system.
It’s always on the lookout for threats and can make you feel stressed or anxious when it senses danger, even if that “danger” is just a tight deadline or a challenging client.
But here’s the good news: you also have a higher brain, the prefrontal cortex, the part I refer to as the Supervising Parent, and it’s responsible for thinking, reasoning, and decision-making. This part of your brain can help you stay calm, focused, and positive, even when the primitive brain is sounding the alarm.
So here are some examples of using brain science for a better work environment:
Handling Tight Deadlines: Imagine you’re faced with a tight deadline, and your Toddler brain is in full alert mode, causing stress. Here’s where brain science comes in. Instead of panicking, you can engage your higher brain, the Supervising Parent, by breaking down the task into smaller, manageable steps. This not only helps you stay organized but also reduces stress and enhances your work environment. The less stress you feel, the easier it is to feel better about your job.
Dealing with Difficult Colleagues: We all have those colleagues who can be challenging to work with. Brain science tells us that you can choose how you react. Instead of letting their behavior trigger stress, learn how to engage your higher brain to respond with patience and understanding. By doing so, you can help create a more harmonious work environment.
Seeking Feedback: Lastly, when you actively seek feedback, you’re using your higher brain to improve your skills. Even if the feedback is critical, approach it with a growth mindset. This means seeing it as an opportunity for development rather than a personal attack. It not only makes you a Smarter Accountant but also fosters a work environment where growth and improvement are valued.
Now that you have some examples of using brain science for a better work environment, let me give you some additional practical tips for creating a positive work environment:
Stay Organized: Use your higher, Supervising Parent part of your brain to plan and organize your work. Break tasks into manageable chunks, set priorities, create a to-do list, and then calendar everything on that to-do list. Side note: do not work off a to-do list because it’s incredibly overwhelming to your brain. By staying organized, this not only reduces stress but also enhances your productivity and work experience.
Communication is Key: Engage in open and honest communication with your colleagues and supervisors. By discussing challenges and seeking solutions, you create a work environment where issues can be addressed constructively. Begin to pay attention to your complaining and gossip, and make conscious efforts to curb them both.
Embrace Lifelong Learning: Keep your brain engaged by embracing lifelong learning. Listen to podcasts like this, attend workshops and webinars, or seek out coaches and mentors. Take programs like I offer with The Smarter Accountant Programs, teaching you how to manage your mind so that you can manage everything else. My program will not only make you a Smarter Accountant, but it also fosters a work environment that values growth and development.
In a nutshell, becoming a Smarter Accountant means not only mastering the numbers but also understanding the brain science behind creating a better work environment. By engaging your higher brain more often, you can tackle challenges, handle stress, and foster a work environment where productivity and well-being go hand in hand.
Now go use that smart bran of yours to make a better work environment for yourself.
Well, that’s what I have for you. Thank you for joining me on this exploration of how to create a better work environment. I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tools you can apply this week.
If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.
I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.
That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.
Make sure you go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..
Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast. The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.
The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.