Have you ever stepped into someone's kitchen and felt completely welcomed? You were served tea and biscuits, the air was heavy with the scent of home baked bread, the colors were warm and everyone was smiling. You felt welcomed - someone wanted you to be there and appreciated having you over for tea in a kitchen that was clearly cared for.
Sometimes you get the same feeling when staying as a guest at someone's house - they truly enjoy having you there. They smile when they see you, they do kind gestures like cooking you a meal, or inviting you to share a bottle of wine. In addition to that they trust you, so they leave you alone to do your thing. You can come and go as you wish and when you feel like being alone, no one intrudes on your space. Their home is your home.
In addition to this, a nice home has a certain kind of structure; there are various rules in place. It's a clean house, so you don't leave dirty dishes lying about. It's a tidy house, so you don't throw your laundry on the floor. People are nice, honest and straight forward, so intrigues aren't welcome. You know you have to follow these rules, or you won't fit into the household.
If, on the other hand, you walk into a home where the structure isn't solid, you won't feel relaxed. Maybe people in the house are going through difficulties, so they often get angry with you for no reason. Maybe some people leave the dishes, some don't, so there are disagreements. Maybe the actual house is ill cared for so you never know when something will fall apart next. There's a lot of uncertainty and you don't know if you're doing the right thing, or the wrong thing as the structure of the household contradicts itself.
There are also times when people invite you over, but they aren't fully happy having you there. Sometimes one party wants you there, not the other. Sometimes they like having you there, but find guests to be a bit of a burden nonetheless. Sometimes they try to micro-control you to ensure you do exactly what they want you to do, so you can never relax (this gets especially confusing if you don't know the rules up front). Unless you are fully welcomed, you will never feel like it's your home too.
A home is no different from a business, or organization, in many ways. Either you welcome employees into a structured business and give them enough room to move about, or you welcome them into chaos, try control them, or hold grudges as you think it's difficult working with others.
I have traveled a lot, so I have experienced staying in all sorts of homes, with all sorts of people. I also work with different clients, am launching a start-up and am on the board of two charity organizations. For me, therefore, the idea of creating a welcoming environment has become pivotal. As a traveler and multi-tasker I need to come home to various different places and organizations and I get stressed if it's not working. When the structure of an organization or home is lacking, things fall apart as people don't know what they are supposed to be doing. Misunderstandings are created and soon fights break out.
I was discussing this with an acquaintance of mine, a fellow entrepreneurial spirit, Nishant Gupta, who also happens to be the Managing Director of Mahahome, and as he put it, when talking about your dream, versus the dreams of employees (your home, versus their home): "Just like with a home environment, a business should aspire towards boosting positivity for residents and guests alike, but it's essential that it also represents who you are." Coupled with another organization telling me that an organization is only the dream of the owner, what he said made me think (and led to this blog). Personally I think it needs to be a collaborative dream, even if there's only one home owner. Employees can bring you a lot of things, so you should respect that they can add to the dream, but you're also responsible for creating a structure that keeps people aligned with the bigger picture. And, of course, you need to ensure that staff feel welcomed, or chances are what they contribute to your dream won't fuel it.
In short, as a company owner, or the leader of an organization, you have a huge chance of making an impact on your employees lives by creating a great structure where you welcome people on board who share the same dream you do and let them add their own nuances to the dream. You aren't just a person creating change because of what your business or organization does, but also because of what you bring to your employees. Likewise, they can change your life with what they bring. As I always say: we're in each other's dreams before we meet each other, because we are the parts of the whole that will make the dreams come true when we do meet. And I think that's beautiful.
This was article first posted on my LinkedIn blog where I muse about things related to charity work, business and, sometimes, life (please stop by and connect!).