Leaders are the keepers of culture. It begins, continues, and ends with you. It requires deliberate effort to cultivate a healthy workplace environment and team dynamic. The great news for you is that when culture is attended to, teams will work better with one another, go above and beyond the call of duty, invest themselves personally, and own their wins and their losses. Not only will you have team engagement and satisfaction, but you’ll also have efficiency, retention, and productivity.
Healthy environments are characterized by leaders who value integrity, intolerance for discrimination and toxicity, robust systems and strategies, and organizational alignment that promotes shared goals and achievable results.
But healthy cultures go one step further. They find ways to capture the spirit of the organization. They have identified the “personality” of the organization, and they express that personality with both clarity and vibrancy added to what could otherwise be an active but sterile team environment. What are the idiosyncrasies that set your team apart?
For Google, the design of their well-known megaplex in Silicon Valley, from inspiring meeting spaces to bicycles and bowling alleys, is all intentionally suited for collaboration and innovation, two of their top priorities. I visited the Zappos offices a few years ago where the managers refer to their staff as family and have ten core family values that they believe put the “zap” in Zappos. Among them are phrases like “create fun and a little weirdness” or “be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.” And like Horst Schulze shared in this week’s podcast episode, the mantra of Ritz-Carlton employees from the CEO to the valet is, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Each of these approaches tauts the uniqueness of the organization and sets the tone for their team’s specific approach to their work.
Culture is NOT all hoverboards, nap pods, and coffee-shop-rival break rooms. These types of perks can be expressions of a culture, but they’re certainly not necessities to develop a thriving team dynamic. In fact, the current shifts the pandemic is forcing on us all, actually help us hone in on what’s truly necessary.
The necessities are simple. You need clear answers to 2 questions:
1. WHY do we exist?
2. HOW do we work together to accomplish that WHY?
Notice I called this simple. I didn’t call it easy! Building a healthy culture, one that people clamor to join and think twice about leaving, takes patience and persistence. It’s intentional work, but it’s crucial work.
Perhaps the first step for you is to evaluate where your organization is on those two questions. Here are some additional questions that will provide some guidance as you reflect:
Purpose Questions–Defining Your WHY
- Do you have a clearly defined organizational mission, vision, and values?
- Do you frequently refer to that mission, vision, and values in conversations and team meetings?
- Can your leaders define the purpose of your organization in one sentence?
- Are major decisions consistently filtered through your mission, vision, and values?
Culture Questions–Clarifying HOW You Work Together
Does your team enjoy being together?
Do you have a process for the ongoing development of staff?
Do your senior leaders model and encourage self-awareness and intentional personal development?
Do you handle conflict well?
Do you trust one another?
If you didn’t answer a resounding yes to these questions, your most strategic efforts will be clarifying your purpose and cultivating your culture.
It’s one of the great joys of the work we do at 4Sight to come alongside leaders and organizations to evaluate their culture and provide a framework for building it into an extraordinary one.
Keep leading well!
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.
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