Changing The Culture Of Our Team…
We’re winding down in our series on how to hire for, and develop a great team. We’ve talked about hiring our hourly team members (from no experience/entry level to Store Team Leader level) for qualities rather than skills, indoctrinating those new hires, and changing the expectations of our ‘old’ team members to begin the transformation from average to great.
Hiring only the best is a mandatory starting point. I believe indoctrinating them is also mandatory to have a truly great team. Introducing the needed changes to our ‘old’ team members must be done carefully and intelligently in order to avoid the pushback that comes so naturally.
Now we must introduce and maintain some behaviors and relationship habits without which I don’t believe great can be achieved.
3. Changing the culture of our team. This part will take some time, and can only be changed by building relationships with your team members… each and every one of them.
Changing the way our team members interact with each other is perhaps the hardest part. Since our actions and choices allowed the current culture to form, the only way to change it is to change our actions, and make different choices. Yes… you are to blame for the culture on your team. You are to blame for the average performance of your team. Blaming your team members is like parents blaming their kids for playing video games all day. You allow the behavior… If you don’t like it, don’t allow it. And the change must begin and end with you!
As Leaders, we can break our teams all by ourselves. Our actions (or lack thereof), our selfishness, arrogance, and any number of other behaviors can easily crush the spirits of our team members, and destroy any positive efforts on their part.
We cannot however make our team Great by ourselves. For most of us it takes concentrated effort, more energy than we thought we could muster, and the investment of an insane amount of time in order to bring together the people around us and form an actual team.
The crazy part is that most of us are capable of achieving this goal as long as we are in it for the right reasons. Our team members do not expect us to be perfect; have all of the answers; or always say the right things. They do expect us to genuinely care about them; to try our best; to admit our faults and failures; to freely give credit where it is due; to accept the blame when things go sideways; and to put the goals of the team ahead of our own.
We must all be willing to admit and talk about our faults/failures. As the Leader it is our job to show everyone how this is done. We must be the example, and talk openly and honestly about our faults and failures. I believe that the only way to get our team members to admit to, speak honestly about, and ‘hear’ feedback about their mistakes is seeing their team Leader do the same.
We must never punish failure, or allow other’s failures to become fodder for jokes. If we are not failing, we are not trying enough new ways to achieve great! Many of you are/will be hesitant to really open up and share your mistakes/failures with those who work for you. I would suggest that anything like this, that is difficult for us, is necessarily the very work we need to do in order to improve ourselves as Leaders.
We must install a culture of almost constant feedback. At first it may be difficult to get the rest of the team on board with giving and accepting feedback. It is human nature to take a defensive stance when we believe we are being attacked. Feedback is rarely used to foster positive change in most workplaces, so accepting this as a long-term process will serve you well. This topic needs a lot more time, so we’ll talk about this more next time.
We must align our rewards systems with innovation, risk taking, and Leadership development. If the bottom line (or any other measure) is given the highest reward, everything else is guaranteed to fall by the wayside to be forgotten.
Profitability and the bottom line can and should be rewarded, and… unless all of the steps needed to move our team towards Great are recognized and rewarded, and the process itself is given the importance and attention it deserves, all of our efforts will be reduced to yet another failed attempt to create positive change… just another flavor of the month come and gone.
We must build strong, trusting relationships with our team members. Sometimes this will mean developing relationships with all of our team members. On larger teams, we will only be able to develop deep relationships with our team Leaders. We then teach them how to develop those relationships with their team members.
Since team member happiness and engagement is really a measure of our relationship with the person to whom we report, this relationship chain is vital to achieving Great. We cannot fathom moving past average without getting the vast majority of our team members actively engaged in their work. And this can only be achieved through strong, trusting relationships! We’ll talk more about relationship building next time too.
I think one additional post; to more fully describe the behaviors and habits needed to move our culture to one that values Great is in order. More specifics on building relationships, as well as how to develop a culture of feedback will help. I’m sure that in my haste to wrap this up I’ve left out many steps that you will recognize by their absence, so please don’t hesitate to speak to them in the comments.
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