Does Your Culture Need a Tune Up?
Great leaders have a way of pulling the best out of their teams.
They are able to connect a group of people to a vision and create a culture in which a team is able to overcome obstacles. While great leaders know the importance of building a great team, not every leader starts with a great team. Instead, many great leaders need to build a culture in which ordinary employees can thrive as they become a great team.
It’s easy to describe a culture as positive or negative. It’s easy to see a fun-loving culture and assume that the business has a great culture. Or to see a business leader who isn’t overly friendly and make the assumption the culture of the business is cold. But culture is deeper than what is on the surface.
The culture of your business determines if your team is dedicated and willing to put in a few extra hours, if needed, or if they see extra work as not their problem. Culture is if your team member sees a co-worker struggling and decides they can help or if they see it as a burden. Culture is the core of how your team thinks and thus it directly impacts the actions that they take.
What makes the building of a culture difficult is that the little things can make a big difference. It takes a keen ear to listen to common phrases in your business and understand how they influence actions. For instance, a few common phrases that can be an indication of a culture issue include:
- That’s just how we’ve always done it - Using a phrase like this can show a tendency to simply accept frustrations instead of looking for solutions. It can be an indication of a business that values status quo over innovation.
- We’ve tried that before, it doesn’t work - While this can be accurate, a high-performing culture looks for solutions. Why didn’t it work last time? How could it be done different so it might work this time? This can be an indication of a team that too easily brushes off possible solutions, using the past as a convenient excuse.
- We provided the resources they need, they just don’t use them. This is an indication that there’s a culture of blame or of not taking ownership. If a team isn’t using the resources available to them, a high-performing culture is going to address the issue until it’s solved. It may be you have the wrong people on your team. Or it may be that as a leader, you haven’t created a culture in which resources are easy to access or where the team is inspired to use them. The reasons can vary, but a high-performing culture is going to explore until they understand why.
- There’s just no time to do X – Time is a limited resource. Every business struggles to find the perfect balance of time management. However, if this statement is made often in your business, it can be a good indication that there’s an issue with how your team thinks about time. It could be that priorities are not clear. Or it could be that your team needs more training or resources to manage their time. Again, the underlying cause will differ, but high-performing cultures dig in to understand the solution.
We challenge you to stop and really think about your culture. What phrases are often repeated in your business? Write them down. Then step back from them and ask how does that way of thinking influence our actions? Is it positive? Do you want a different result?
Even the most positive cultures can use a tune up. This is a great exercise to take to your team. Challenge them to write down those common phrases. It can be different in different departments or even by position, but it will give you a great idea of how the way your team thinks influences the results you are getting.