Ready, Set, Go!

Published: July 5, 2017

How long does it take to transform the spirit of a workplace? Depending on the depth and duration of the struggle, employee morale can be turned around quickly. Healthy, thriving teams are always evolving their environments. Struggling teams must execute a deliberate decision to sponsor change.


The tide turns long before the employee satisfaction scores rise. Mood shifts as soon as there is a consensus choice to challenge the norms of the organization. If, and only if, most co-workers hold themselves and each other accountable to the new values, a little bit of traction is enough to instill hope for a brighter future.


Every single interaction creates an opportunity to strengthen or weaken the culture. Constructive conflict, appreciation of differences, exchanges of respect, and willingness to experiment are all paths to strengthen the workplace. If teammates stay mature and professional under stress, adversity becomes a springboard for innovation and adaptability.

Each employee has a role in the in the process. Leaders endorse and model actions that support wellness. Middle managers and supervisory associates are the eyes and ears of the team. Front line staff express the success of the transformation with their engagement. Ideally, everyone acts like an owner.


Take the first step. Perform an assessment of the health and sickness of the culture. Pinpoint the most likely reasons for what ails the workplace. Perhaps the mission and vision aren’t clear. Maybe trust has been broken. Some teammates may be afraid to take smart risks. Others may be depleted from the volume and pace of change in the organization.

Whatever the source, craft a triage plan and tackle the most impactful challenge first. Chip away at the list as positive energy returns to the workplace. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate examples of healthier culture.

The spirit of the workplace needs care. It is fueled as much by words and actions as it is by silence and inaction. Steer the culture in the direction you most wish to shape your engagement. Ready, set, go!

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.