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IMPROVE COMPANY CULTURE

Updated: Feb 5, 2019

HOW TO BUILD A POSITIVE TEAM CULTURE?


The positive relationship between company culture and company performance has been established in scientific research years ago. But how to build such a positive culture? We have easy, actionable steps to increase company performance ready for you.


But first...


What is a positive company culture?

Team members often define a positive culture as:

  • A place where respect thrives, while delivering quality work every day.

  • An environment that encourages collaboration and sincere appreciation.

  • A workplace that trusts the experience and decision-making of employees.

  • An office where autonomy and purpose at work are highly valued.


How do you create such a culture at work? The moment you start building your team, corporate culture is seeded. It follows every step you take and every word you spread.


People build cultures.

Building a company culture is one of the greatest responsibilities of today's leaders. It's the soil of high-performance. Do you perform well if you do not feel well?


If there's already a team in place, you might need to improve the culture. Employee turnover goes through the roof, burn-outs are trending, you encounter many team crises. It is all connected to the culture you nurture.



Skills to develop a strong company culture

Culture is a long-term project. Lasting influence is better than a short burst of flames. To create long-term effects a team leader need to gear up on a couple of skills:


1. Authenticity Sincere actions are felt. Sincere talks too. Stay true to yourself. Dare to open up. Being vulnerable is a strength, not a weakness. They cannot hit you in the weak spot anymore, because you've already talked about it. Lead by example, so team members learn to be authentic too.


2. Storytelling

Be authentic in your talks and you will notice the mesmerizing effect. Be ambitious and stir the blood with magic. Magic can be found in shared adventures. Adventures led by a visionary leader. It helps to compose a story full of powerful beliefs, which resonate within your team.


3. Listening

As soon as the story resonates, team members try to add value to it. Listen to their ideas and worries. There's a place for all. You'll experience valuable conversations and great commitment to shared goals.


4. Constructive feedback

To come to the best plans, you are the one that brings the magic together. You select the optimal route and explain this route - again, storytelling! - via constructive feedback to your team members.


No vague or inauthentic feedback during yearly evaluations. Use tops (doing great!) and tips (could be improved) on a regular base. Make it part of day-to-day communication. Nothing formal, just sharing thoughts on potential improvements. Change can be realized swiftly, do not wait until urgency has already vanished.


5. Appreciation

Your team has delivered high quality work, through which you have come to new insights. Don't forget to thank them for this effort. It's a small group of people that realizes big changes over here. You can't realize change on your own. What changes if no one follows?


6. Delegation

Team members need to add their perspective to the table to make synergy work. Trust their experience and decision-making. As long as there is a clear goal on your crusade - you will be fine.





Improve the team environment While improving your leadership skills, you can also boost the environment surrounding your team. Factors influencing your corporate culture can definitely be adjusted.


But... how?


1. Hire the right people Culture is made by the people in it. Make a shortlist of 3 universal characteristics you are looking for in each team member and use it during selection processes.


Make sure there's enough place for differences around these 3 core characteristics. Celebrate differences, while having the same essential values. Synergy comes from different perspectives towards the same purpose in life.

2. Communicate Share victories AND losses. Talk AND listen. Communicate in full transparency so colleagues become aware of unfiltered company insights. This builds trust.


Change the regular question "Is it necessary to share this?" into


"Is it necessary to conceal this?"

By uncovering challenges, you allow team members to add value in rough times.


This cultivates strong coworkers relationships and a workplace that moves people. Employees shouldn't scatter the moment their leader approaches the coffee machine.


Share your insights by stories filled with purpose and passion. Communicate by word, by expression and via subsequent actions. You're in this together.

3. Cut out whiners

Some are not feeling this vibe. Wrong time, wrong place. Talk to them, identify what's on their mind. Are there personal sorrows? Or is one simply rejecting change?

Complainers are the most dangerous. They are not the ones expressing their worries out loud in meetings. They are spreading their negative vibes softly, but steadily during workdays.


You don't need this in your team. As long as you cannot fix it, say goodbye. A mismatch isn't something horrendous. They will be happier somewhere else. And that's okay.



4. Embrace and inspire autonomy

Your remaining team expresses their positive thoughts. Ready to go! From now on: trust their decisions.


No one likes to be micromanaged. To inspire autonomy give one choice. Create choice within boundaries, grant colleagues real ownership of the projects and provide the tools to achieve the goals.


Tools can range from attending an important seminar as spokesperson of the company to certain software authorizations. Check regularly if colleagues feel appreciated and have enough space to develop their autonomy.


5. Work hard, play hard

Autonomy motivates due to the ownership one has over the project. Motivated people tend to work hard. Make sure your team plays too.


Create time and place to recharge. Find a break-room (away from any computers!), buy games, provide day trips, go for a walk and make sure they take enough days off.


The work ethic is there when needed, the play ethic should be trained too, to keep everyone fit for the next sprint.


To ensure long-term fitness, make sure you do not miss out on flexibility. As a parent, colleagues might need some extra time in the morning or the afternoon. As a traveller, your team member might need 5 weeks off instead of 3. Make sure one can combine a personal and worklife in a healthy way, so the battery stays fully loaded.


6. Create the right space By creating a place to recharge, your colleagues can walk away from performance once in a while. Make sure it's impossible to walk away from the culture you want to create.


By using motivational posters, you can create a certain atmosphere. By using certain company colors, you can influence their state of mind. Create spaces and situations that promote coworker interactions, so collaboration is stimulated.

Interior design and teamwork tools bring gentle reminders of your company culture. Build the atmosphere of your dreams. You are the one with the power to do so.


Does your current canteen atmosphere promote interaction and connectivity?


7. All are equal

In being connected, hierarchy dissapears. Respect is mutual, honoring the person you are. Everyone is adding to the common goal, and all added value is appreciated. You are all integral members of the team.


When you work together, you accomplish together. And you get rewarded together. That's teamwork. All challenging your talents to create something amazing.


And if someone's cheating, make sure you talk about this immediately. Do not let this become a frustration.


8. Invest

Building a company culture takes time and energy. Resonate, align. You can't build it half. There's no finish line. As the responsibility of a great leader, you have the right to inspire, to motivate, to help people to be true to themselves. Lucky you. That's what purpose stands for: the reason for which something is done or created or for which someone exists.


Enjoy!