A Positive Work Environment – The Ultimate Guide

I know better than anyone the need for a positive work environment.  I remember sitting in my car as a young professional, for 15 minutes, begging myself to get out of the car and go into the building.  It’s an awful feeling.

I’ve had a boss who flew off the handle, without warning.  Who would yank a project right out from underneath you, just because that supervisor felt “out of loop”, even when said supervisor requested to remain “out of the loop”.  Oh…. I’ve seen some doozies.  I’ve also had the honor of knowing some amazing supervisors and from them I know the following to be true…

There are a few basic rights that all employees deserve:

All employees should know what to expect from their supervisor

All employees should know what is expected of them

All employees should feel that the work site is safe, both physically and emotionally

All employees should feel of value

All employees should not suffer from “Sunday Night Anxiety”

Once I heard a speaker, I think his name was “Mr. Rick”, who wondered what it would be like if – when teachers arrived at school it could be like a rock star had just pulled up in a limo.  Kids would line the drive of the school with signs of how much they adore the teacher and the applause would erupt when the teacher stepped out of the car.

Flashes of lights from all the reporters and microphones placed in front of the arriving teacher as they get interviewed in regards to “how do you do it?” and “what is it like to enhance the lives of children?”

There’d be a red carpet up the front walk and when the teacher got to the top of the steps… he or she would turn quickly around, raise their hands high above their head and yell, “Thank YOU… THANK YOU VERY MUCH!”  And the applause would again explode to a ferocious roar.

Just writing this makes me smile.  I can see some teachers I know, totally getting into the idea and others, raising their eyebrows at me with a polite, “no thanks”.

What would create that feeling?  What could you do at your school that would develop your teachers in such a way that they were rock stars?  How could you create an atmosphere where there was an underlying understanding that those who have constant contact with our kids are the key critical component of the school?  That they are most important, second only to our kids that we serve.  Have you ever thought of that?

But with that, a point still needs to be made, in our nation there is an overwhelming feeling, from many, not all, but many teachers that they are not valued.  That our society does not value the work that they do.

So where do we start?  Where do we begin, as school administrators, to build a feeling of value within our teachers?  It is one of the five basic rights…. and yet, many are not feeling of value and are lacking in job satisfaction.    Take a look at the chart below and see where your school lands.



Everyone deserves to love going to work. A positive work environment will generate an energy within your team that will be shared with your students.

Did you fall into the light, binoculars or the compass sections?  Good JOB!  or Are you at a new school and there are backpacks everywhere?  Here is a list of tips that all good managers can do to create a positive work environment.

A Positive Work Environment – The Ultimate Guide

  • Be present –  welcome people to work
  • Ask about others families and lives
  • Be clear – ensure that everyone knows where they stand with you
  • Smile
  • Communicate
  • Express that your teachers are the KEY CRITICAL personnel
  • Be service oriented
  • Create a culture of pride
  • Listen
  • Discuss vision
  • Compliment teachers, staff and the kids
  • Hire great, effective teachers
  • Hire great support staff
  • Ensure that your current teachers and staff know that you will only hire the best to work with them.
  • Be proactive… leave reaction for when you get stung by a bee
  • Recognize progress
  • Use people’s names
  • Greet people in the front office with a handshake and a smile
  • Build a network of collaborators
  • Advocate for great professional development opportunities
  • Know the dreams of your staff
  • Make People feel important
  • Bring in surprises
  • Be specific on your needs- who, what, when, where, why…..
  • Tell the truth – people know when you are sugar-coating something
  • Promise to protect or at least be their voice at the district office
  • Observe regularly
  • Sit in while a teacher takes a quick potty break – reading to kids is therapeutic/talking to teens is entertaining
  • Provide positive feedback
  • Deal with issues head on and specific
  • Tell the public how great your team is
  • Allow your team give you feedback
  • Accept feedback graciously
  • Share the success
  • Be gracious at all times
  • Leave the word “I” out of your vocabulary
  • Trust
  • Know that people are human
  • Create learning opportunities
  • Give praise even if it just a thumbs up
  • Ask Questions
  • Meet as a group and as individuals

Everyone deserves to love going to work.  Especially those of us who choose to work with children.  The energy you share with your team will be magnified and shared with the kids that you serve.  Look for the good, note the issues/areas needing attention and always circle back on both.  A positive work environment can take your school from average to outstanding. Never underestimate the power of the Positive!

Everyone deserves to love going to work. A positive work environment will generate an energy within your team that will be shared with your students.

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