What does your office décor say about the values of your organization?

When it comes to office decoration, we all know that something is better than nothing. No one wants to stare at a blank wall all day at work, and a few nicely-framed posters can help break up the tedium and make an office feel more welcoming.

However, that doesn’t mean organizations should throw a few pictures on the wall and call it a day. In fact, the rise of bland, corporate posters with trite, meaningless copy has led to a backlash among many employees and inspired endless parodies. At the very least, most stock motivational posters have become too much of an office cliché for many workers to feel inspired.

That’s not to say there aren’t ways to use office décor to provide motivation. Instead, organizations should take a strategic look at how their decorating decisions enforce their core values…and choose options that reflect the genuine beliefs of the organization.

Do your motivational posters align with your organizational values?

Under any circumstances, an organization that plasters their walls with motivational values that run contrary to their business practices is going to run into trouble. Employees can’t help but see the disconnect between the poster that’s extolling the virtues of gratitude if they’re feeling neglected and invisible.

If your organization decides to source motivational posters from the many options available online, play to your strengths. Begin with ones that are an accurate reflection of your organization’s culture. If you’re weak in a certain aspect of your organizational culture, you will need a more intentional culture initiative to strengthen it. Motivational posters can be a part of that initiative; but without support, they’re likely to seem false.

A place for core values and mission statements.

Facebook is well known for mottos like “move fast and break things” or “done is better than perfect.” These mantras decorate the walls of their headquarters and build a common understanding among employees about workplace expectations.

When organizations use wall space in this manner, they do more than add a bit of decoration to the office. Instead, they broadcast an unambiguous message about their values. Doing so can create alignment among the workforce, but it’s also a promise. As we said earlier, organizations that make these value statements must also live by them.

The strongest value statements aren’t likely to be found on someone else’s motivational poster. Instead, those that flow from the core mission of an organization have the best chance to drive a culture toward peak performance.

The case for self-selection.

That said, not every decorating decision has to come from the top down. Many of us, if left to choose motivational quotes for ourselves, could quickly select meaningful phrases or images when we find them personally inspiring.

Encouraging employees to decorate their personal spaces with quotes or images they find motivating can be both inspirational and empowering. Other motivational decorations could include positive customer feedback quotes on the walls, or an inspiration board for coworkers to share motivational quotes they’ve come across. Inviting employees to join in on the decision-making process for decorating their office is more likely to result in décor everyone is pleased with.

Motivational posters will always have a role in organizational culture.

It’s unlikely motivational posters will fall out of style anytime in the near future. After all, many famous posters, such as Rosie the Riveter’s “We can do it” or Britain’s “Keep calm and carry on” have achieved iconic status and provide inspiration even today.

At the very least, motivational posters are better than leaving the walls bare. But to have the greatest affect, companies should use the office decoration as a conversation point. There’s plenty of room on the walls for both leadership’s broad mission statements, and for employees to share the images and messages that will help them get to work.

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