Unshakeable Truths About Your Company Culture

We all chase the dream; a great working environment where we feel valued and respected. Where we play to our strengths and that failure is a learning opportunity. Sadly, the reality is often very different as we face an environment where people feel they have little input and control in the very place they spend the majority of their time every day.

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Stand out memories are often not what you did or where you did it, but with whom you did it with.

Listening to 3 players from the 2003 England Rugby World Cup winning team, a powerful insight struck me; they all said that they didn’t really remember the final game or even the celebrations. Instead, the long-standing memories they carried forward with them were all about the team. The great relationships with the people around them and the good times they shared. In one shared sentence, they summed up the power of team culture;

It’s not what you do or where you do it, it’s who you do it with the matters.

It’s a view I strongly believe in with my experience of working in the military. Yes, we had some tough dark times yet it was the power of the team culture that propelled us all forward. All teams face uncertainty and challenge with strong emotions for both the good and the bad times but ultimately, it’s the strong team culture that remains the enduring memory we all look back on with fondness. In a nutshell, this is what a strong culture means to me.

A great culture gives you the drive to get out of bed on a morning. Whether tomorrow means you are faced with intense change, a tight deadline or the prospect of a 12-hour shift, what makes it easier is the draw of the people you are going to do it with.

A driver not a drainer of energy

A great culture has the power to pick you up and drive you forward with an interesting reality – you don’t end up working for “the client” or “the next promotion” or even “the boss,” you share the load as you work for the person next you. The crazy thing is that the team and the person next to you are often not your absolute best buddy – a great culture does not need that, what you do need is a great connection built on trust, respect and honesty.

The great news is that a great team culture does not necessarily have to be driven from the top. If your team creates a great culture, no matter how big or small that team is, you will feel like you can conquer the world.

Habits, beliefs and behaviours

There are no short cuts on the road to a culture where people want to come to work. Developing and holding on to a great team culture involves no quick fix solutions but dedication and commitment to something bigger than you. It starts with a vision and set of values that transfer off the wall and into a clear set of habits and behaviours that mean that absolutely anyone who walks into your team environment will easily recognise. Get this right and it grows into a set of clear shared goals that define a productive ethos and a great place to work.

A great culture cannot be defined by the board, or even through the management, it has to be defined by everyone. Put simply, culture is about developing a shared set of habits, beliefs and behaviours. A clearly understood benchmark that is developed and respected by the people who matter. Without this solid platform, erosive behaviours start to creep in and impact our relationships, productivity and engagement.

We all chase the dream; a great working environment where we feel valued and respected. Where we play to our strengths and that failure is a learning opportunity. Sadly, the reality is often very different as we face an environment where people feel they have little input and control in the very place they spend the majority of their time every day.

Food for thought:

  1. When was the last time your team or organisation asked each individual what they consider to be acceptable behaviour and then look to implement the results?
  2. When was the last time your organisation or team discussed what the objective or the vision for the next 12 months should be?
  3. When was the last time anyone challenged unacceptable behaviour?

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