An effective team culture is one in which the leader and team members feel connected and share a common purpose and values.
Daniel Coyle’s recent book The Culture Code, breaks down the fundamentals of a successful team culture into 3 key elements:
- Build safety – establish bonds and connection that help team members feel that they belong in the group
- Share vulnerability – Create a safe environment of trust and cooperation where making mistakes will not jeopardize your success, this includes leaders/managers.
- Establish purpose – create shared goals and values
Building safety in practice
The necessity for us to create human connections is as fundamental as breathing. It is so critical to ensure that team members feel supported. They need to know that their co-workers and manager care about their success as much as their own, and that they are interested in them as human beings.
Many of our clients are business owner-operators in small communities across the country. We consistently hear that bringing in the right talent and sustaining an engaged and effective team can require a lot of ongoing work and attention. However, the rewards for your efforts can be significant. Getting the team culture and operating practices right can make or break a business.
Most of our clients engage us to assess their entire work team and then follow our recommended process for supervisors to review individual results with each team member. This process can open up new communication pathways; improve employee performance and engagement; and grow new levels of trust between a manager and their team members. Some of our clients who have done this have shared stories of employees crying tears of joy, because someone has finally taken the time to get to know them better and wants to help them be the best possible version of themselves.
“I thought I knew my team well, but reviewing their assessment results with them took my understanding to a whole new level. This has allowed me to help them grow and succeed even more.”– A. A., Owner/Manager
Establishing vulnerability and purpose
Sharing and incorporating their aggregated results at team related meetings and events are the next step toward engaging your team members in each other’s success. This creates awareness of each other’s differences as well as information about how to improve their interactions to bolster their collective success. These activities bring in aspects of the other 2 keys to success identified by Coyle.
Some best practices include:
- Sharing team summary charts, discussing what they mean leading to a group discussion about what actions they might take as a result
- Encouraging the team to share certain preferences, strengths and areas for improvement in their results
- Posting summary charts in break rooms
- Sharing employee’s strengths on internal shared files and how to flex to different styles to bridge differences
- Realigning roles and responsibilities as a result of report feedback
Some of these activities can be part of regularly scheduled meetings. An alternative is to bring the team together at an offsite meeting to focus on this work.
These actions enable the team members and leaders to share their vulnerabilities with each other in a positive, supportive way. Together they can then work towards solutions that lead to or reinforce shared purpose. One client of ours, in Oklahoma, took many of these actions in early 2018. His business revenue doubled that year while his profitability more than doubled. His team culture is now so strong that his team owns and defends their culture from bad actors without his intervention.
“My team did all the work! They set outrageous goals for themselves and then blew away those goals!” -– T.W. Owner/Manager
Building safety with new hires
Whenever possible, we recommend that our clients incorporate sharing the assessment results with their new hires as part of the onboarding process. Reviewing a new hire’s coaching report with them creates and opportunity for the manager and the new hire to have a positive and open discussion about them, their strengths and areas of challenge, their goals, wants and needs. This discussion can create a solid foundation of open and positive communication between the new employee and their manager, building trust, and setting a precedent for future interactions.