A healthy and happy work environment is essential to the success of your business; building a strong sense of community is even more important. This is the perfect time to it’s a terrific opportunity to take a look at company’s culture and see if there are opportunities to cultivate a more positive workplace culture. Here are six steps to consider if your company culture needs to move to the next level.

Establish trust

Trust is essential in all relationships, both personal and professional. The best way to build trust is through active listening and open communication. But you have to truly listen, be willing to let your guard down, and really listen. Allow your team members to speak their minds without fear of reprisal. Do this and chances are that others will reciprocate.

Get to know your employees as individuals

No one wants to be treated as “just” an employee. If you treat your team as “just” employees, that is likely what you will get back in performance. Instead, ask and learn about their hobbies, families, and backgrounds.” Consider 2017 an opportunity to create deeper, more productive relationships with your work team. Trust and respect will ensue.

Foster mutual respect

Speaking of respect, we hope you treating your employees and their input and ideas and that they respect yours. Mutual respect is necessary for collaboration, and the growing success will be dependent upon collaboration.

Some of that collaboration may not even include you. That’s why it is equally important that you build a workplace environment in which employees like and respect each other as well. They need to feel respected by their colleagues and supported by you. If you can achieve this, you can expect increased productivity and success.

Show appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated. So when someone does something well, offer a sincere compliment to show your gratitude. Doing so will lead to stronger relationships, and encourages continued productivity. Most people, after all, are wired to respond to incentives. Financial rewards are one well-known incentive. Simple and genuine appreciation is another—often underrated—incentive.

Positive Work Environment

Studies have shown that a positive work environment affects the brain, increases employee engagement. Is it not obvious that people will be generally happier while at work if the work environment is positive?  Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work and a positive psychology expert, says that “when we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work.” Isn’t that exactly what you want from and for your team?

And while you are at it, don’t underestimate the importance of fun in the workplace. Leaders who share laughter with staff members and team members who genuinely enjoy their work are simply more pleasant to be around. Are you the kind of boss you would like to work for? What would including fun in the workplace look like for your business? It might be as simple as a surprise pizza party, office Olympics, or sports team appreciation days. Better yet, why not ask your team what that fun would like to them?

Clear Goals and Regular, Timely Feedback

People like—no, people need—to know where they stand, how their performance stacks up, and how their contributions impact the whole. Achievable goals are the first part of the equation, and if you and your employees work together to set the goals, there can be no question about what is expected. (Do both of you a favor, and include measurable steps or milestones in your planning so that progress and performance can routinely be assessed.) Provide consistent encouragement and feedback in support of the achievement of agreed upon goals.

Speaking of feedback, to most impactful, feedback should be timely. You don’t want to wait until an annual or semi-annual review to discuss that your employee is struggling. That’s too long for changes or improvements to be made. On the other hand, recognizing a significant contribution as soon as it happens (rather than waiting for any period of time) will have a more positive impact on the individual. And success begets success.


People smarter than I have said the key to success is to always be learning. Smart sentiment. And while

there are many ways to always be learning, one of the easiest, most enjoyable and most accessible is

reading. Thus I urge you to make reading business books one of your resolutions for 2017.

Now, I get it. You are already stretched, and here I am telling you to commit more time something you

don’t think you have time for. Am I right? But stay with me here a minute. The books on this list were

chosen because of the immediate and measureable impact they can have on your success, your

performance, your time management … you get the idea. And it’s not like I’m asking you to adopt Bill

Gates’ strident reading schedule (he says he reads about a book a week, and I cannot imagine how he

finds the time).

You can read like I do, a handful of pages at night before you go to sleep, or like a colleague of mine

does—at lunch. It’s a great way to destress. You can also listen to audiobooks in the car or while you

work (if you can multitask that way—I’m not very good at it). There is time. Make it. It will be worth it, I

promise. I am recommending seven books today … let’s call that one a month for six months, plus a

bonus title for overachievers. How does that sound? Good? Good. Enjoy!

(Book descriptions are from Amazon.com. Links are merely provided for convenience. All links go to

each book’s Amazon Kindle page, from where it is one simple click to find the print version. These books,

of course, are also available from retailers other than Amazon.)


by Sydney Finkelstein

What do football coach Bill Walsh, restauranteur Alice Waters, television executive Lorne Michaels,

technology CEO Larry Ellison, and fashion pioneer Ralph Lauren have in common? On the surface,

not much, other than consistent success in their fields. But below the surface, they share a common

approach to finding, nurturing, leading, and even letting go of great people. The way they deal with

talent makes them not merely success stories, not merely organization builders, but what Sydney

Finkelstein calls superbosses.

While superbosses differ in their personal styles, they all focus on identifying promising newcomers,

inspiring their best work, and launching them into highly successful careers—while also expanding

their own networks and building stronger companies.



by Tim Ferriss

From the author: “For the last two years, I’ve interviewed more than 200 world-class performers for

my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from super and athletes to legendary Special

Operations commanders and black-market biochemists. For most of my guests, it’s the first time

they’ve agreed to a two-to- three-hour interview. This unusual depth has helped make The Tim

Ferriss Show the first business/interview podcast to pass 100 million downloads.

“Everything within these pages has been vetted, explored, and applied to my own life in some

fashion. I’ve used dozens of the tactics and philosophies in high-stakes negotiations, high-risk

environments, or large business dealings. The lessons have made me millions of dollars and saved

me years of wasted effort and frustration.

“I created this book, my ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools, for myself. It’s changed my life,

and I hope the same for you.”


by Dan Ariely

Every day we work hard to motivate ourselves, the people we live with, the people who work for and

do business with us. In this way, much of what we do can be defined as being “motivators.” From the

boardroom to the living room, our role as motivators is complex, and the more we try to motivate

partners and children, friends and coworkers, the clearer it becomes that the story of motivation is

far more intricate and fascinating than we’ve assumed.

Payoff investigates the true nature of motivation, our partial blindness to the way it works, and how

we can bridge this gap. With studies that range from Intel to a kindergarten classroom, Ariely digs

deep to find the root of motivation—how it works and how we can use this knowledge to approach

important choices in our own lives. Along the way, he explores intriguing questions such as: Can

giving employees bonuses harm productivity? Why is trust so crucial for successful motivation?

What are our misconceptions about how to value our work? How does your sense of your mortality

impact your motivation?


by Jenny Blake

Careers are not linear, predictable ladders any longer; they are fluid trajectories. No matter our age,

life stage, bank account balance, or seniority, we are all being asked to navigate career changes

much more frequently than in years past. The average employee tenure in America is just four to five

years, and even those roles change dramatically within that time. Our economy now demands that

we create businesses and careers based on creativity, growth, and impact. In this dynamic world of

work, the only move that matters is your next one.

Drawing from her own experience and those of other successful pivoters, Jenny Blake has created a

four-stage process that teaches anyone how to seamlessly and continually:

  • Double-down on existing strengths, interests, and experiences
  • Find new opportunities and identify skills to develop without falling prey to analysis-paralysis and compare-and- despair
  • Run small experiments to determine next steps
  • Take smart risks to launch with confidence in a new direction

If change is the only constant, let’s get better at it.


by Robert I. Sutton

In Scaling Up Excellence, author Robert Sutton and colleague Huggy Rao tackle a challenge that

determines every organization’s success: scaling up farther, faster, and more effectively as a

program or an organization creates a larger footprint.  Sutton and Rao have devoted much of the last

decade to uncovering what it takes to build and uncover pockets of exemplary performance,  to help

spread them, and to keep recharging organizations with ever better work practices.  Drawing on

inside accounts and case studies and academic research from a wealth of industries—including

start-ups, pharmaceuticals, airlines, retail, financial services, high-tech, education, non-profits,

government, and healthcare—Sutton and Rao identify the key scaling challenges that confront every

organization. They tackle the difficult trade-offs that organizations must make between “Buddhism”

versus “Catholicism”—whether to encourage individualized approaches tailored to local needs or to

replicate the same practices and customs as an organization or program expands.  They reveal how

the best leaders and teams develop, spread, and instill the right mindsets in their people—rather

than ruining or watering down the very things that have fueled successful growth in the past.  They

unpack the principles that help to cascade excellence throughout an organization, as well as show

how to eliminate destructive beliefs and behaviors that will hold them back.


by Charles Duhigg

At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key productivity concepts—from motivation and goal

setting to focus and decision making—that explain why some people and companies get so much

done. Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics—as

well as the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane

pilots, and Broadway songwriters—this painstakingly researched book explains that the most

productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently.

They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways. They know that productivity

relies on making certain choices. The way we frame our daily decisions; the big ambitions we

embrace and the easy goals we ignore; the cultures we establish as leaders to drive innovation; the

way we interact with data: These are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely



by Chris Voss

After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his

career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to- face with a range of criminals, including bank

robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead

international kidnapping negotiator. Never Split the Difference takes you inside the world of high-

stakes negotiations and into Voss’s head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues

succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In this practical guide, he shares the nine effective

principles—counterintuitive tactics and strategies—you too can use to become more persuasive in

both your professional and personal life.

Life is a series of negotiations you should be prepared for: buying a car, negotiating a salary, buying

a home, renegotiating rent, deliberating with your partner. Taking emotional intelligence and intuition

to the next level, Never Split the Difference gives you the competitive edge in any discussion.