Creating an environment where employees are happy to be working, enjoy their jobs, and feel like they’re part of a team may sound like an idea straight out of the movies. An idealized workplace only found in stock image galleries. A nirvana possibly attainable by other companies, just not in your business.
But it is possible to have that type of environment in your company. In any company.
Here are four ideas to think about and do some self-assessment around to see exactly what kinds of culture challenges you may be facing with your team.
A cohesive, well-developed team will consistently outperform any individual, no matter how talented. Ensuring every staff member is working effectively with the rest of the team is critical for consistent and constantly improving results.
Questions to ask: Thinking about the environment in our organization, is it truly a team working together and helping one another with everyone focused on the same ideas and vision of the company? Or is it a group of individuals who come into work each day and get their jobs done, working in relative isolation or perhaps in silos?
2. Role definition
In order perform jobs effectively, everyone needs to have complete clarity of exactly what their role is and how it contributes to the overall vision and goals of the organization. If people don’t understand how the work they do impacts the team, the goals, and the clients, then it’s easy to dismiss the work as unimportant and treat it as such.
Questions to ask: How well do our groups and individuals understand their contributions and worth to the organization? Do we have current job descriptions clarifying these ideas for everyone on the team?
The most successful organizations have built-in accountability systems for every role. Each person should feel like they contributing to the company’s success and take ownership of that role. If this isn’t happening, the organization as a whole cannot thrive.
Questions to ask: What expectations do we have of our people? How do we hold them accountable? Do we have natural systems in place and/or formal systems? What are the consequences for poor performance (natural or formal)?
4. Direction (and leadership!)
Your leadership creates the organizational vision and set the goals and the tone for everything that happens in the company. How leadership treats employees directly correlates with how the staff treats one another and your clients. If your leadership team is excited about your team and is willing to invest in employee personal and professional development and growth, this will positively impact the entire organization. And the opposite feelings and attitudes will create a negative environment.
Questions to ask: What is the leadership team modeling with their behaviors? Are we/they a cohesive group or combative and disorganized? How do we/they interact with and communicate to the team? Do current behaviors demonstrate that we/they care about other team members?
After the Assessment
If you feel good about your answers to these questions, you may just have a culture you want. If you didn’t like the answers you had to these questions, then get to work making changes by first asking yourself one final question:
What is keeping us from creating an environment where teams thrive?
Your answer may be as simple as, “We just haven’t thought about it.” Or, “We know it’s a problem, but we don’t know what to do about it.” It’s also possible that you have a more systemic problem and the leadership team is part of the problem.
Either way, you’ll need to start from the top. Company culture doesn’t get built from the ground up. Address your leadership issues first. Come to a consensus as a team on what needs to be done, then get to work.
As you make changes, your cultural environment will start to shift. Stick with it. Don’t back down. It probably won’t be easy or quick, but it will eventually be very rewarding.