What makes great workplaces great in your experience?

I was recently reading this article Making Joy a Priority at Work and thought to myself how companies seem to be either amazing at creating a great workplace or terrible at it…it seems like there’s not much middle ground in my experience. Any experiences someone can share about what made great work environments (or teams) great?

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Trust, open communication, team goals and accountability over individual finger-pointing, showing acknowledgment and appreciation for great work, as well as mutual willingness to let others shine - from my perspective, these are the traits of superstar teams.

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Agree 100%…I think it’s fun to have a really huge goal…don’t give me something too easy. THEN once there’s a great goal turn the team lose to figure it out on their own…give them support and autonomy and you’ve got the making for a high performing team in my experience. HOWEVER, most of the time I see leaders over directing or tasking out assignments…that kills engagement, sure stuff gets done but there could be so much more if they’d empower instead of direct.

My most satisfying work environments have provided for what psychologist & author Mihali Csikszentmihalyi found were the preconditions to the highly productive, highly intrinsically rewarding state he described in his 1990 book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience https://www.powells.com/book/flow-9780061339202. While he listed more, I’ve distilled these preconditions to: Freedom from distraction; Challenges appropriate to skills (High challenges, high skills); Autonomy; Mastery; and Meaning. Daniel Pink riffed on (or ripped off, depending on your perspective) these in his book Drive. Keith Sawyer was inspired by Csikszentmihalyi’s work to explore the group dynamics equivalents in Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration https://www.powells.com/book/group-genius-the-creative-power-of-collaboration-9780465096633, which corroborates (I couldn’t help it) much of the dynamics and behaviors that agile and Scrum encourage.