An Extraordinary Workplace: Myths and Truths

When we think about an extraordinary workplace, we picture a sprawling campus, rich with generous amenities. A destination where success is constant, collaborations are seamless, and employee happiness abounds.

But as it turns out, many of the assumptions these images promote mislead us about what it means to create an outstanding workplace.


Consider these five “great workplace” myths

1. Everyone Is Happy

Many organizations are searching for ways to boost employee moral. But happiness also has a surprising dark side. When we’re euphoric, we tend to be careless and more tolerant of risks at our workplace.

Emotions like anger, embarrassment, and shame can foster greater engagement. They direct employees’ attention to serious issues, prompting them to make corrections that eventually lead to success.

Top performance requires a healthy balance of positive and negative emotions.

2. Conflict Is Rare

Workplace disagreements are undesirable. But in many cases, disagreements fuel better performance.

Here’s why. Healthy debate encourages group members to think more deeply, scrutinize alternatives, and avoid premature consensus. An open deliberation can actually energize employees by providing them with better strategies for doing their job.

Create an environment in which thoughtful debate is encouraged.

3. Mistakes Are Few

To achieve top performance, we must first recognize and learn from our mistakes. And for that employees need an environment in which it feels safe to have honest dialogue.

Instead of treating mistakes as a negative consequence to be avoided at all costs, organizations are better off making improvement a primary objective. If properly documented, they can be used for training purposes, without disclosing the name of the person who made the mistake.

4. They Hire for Cultural Fit

When employees share similar attitudes, they’re more likely to get along and produce. Right?

Not necessarily. When the work is simple and creative thinking is rarely required, a homogenous workforce has its advantages. If looking for innovations, exposing people to different viewpoints can generate more value.

5. Their Offices Are Full of Fun Things

To build a great workplace, you need to turn your office into an amusement park.

Not true. We perform at our best when we feel competent, autonomous, and connected to others. Develop working conditions that help people produce their best work.

For too long, we’ve relied on assumptions when it comes to improving our workplace. Isn’t it time we looked at the data?



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