10 Tips on Shaping Company CultureRobert Coolidge
As a CEO and former football player and coach, I see many parallels between business and team dynamics. A team has a shot at winning only if all players do their job to the best of their ability. The best quarterback cannot be effective without a solid line and talented receivers. A running back can’t gain yards without blocking support. Every position has a purpose, and each must work collectively as a team to succeed.
For your business to thrive in the long term, you should follow a playbook of strategies to build a winning team and company culture. Here are just a few to consider:
- Communication – Leaders should communicate often and honestly about company direction and progress. Silence only leads to speculation and rumors, which are often wrong and can cause distraction and impact morale. Keeping employees informed is also critical to ensuring everyone is working from the same playbook. The more information you share, the more employees will feel ownership.
- Integrity – Playing by the rules, even when no one is looking, is a key factor in forming a trusted, honorable team culture. Instill zero tolerance for any shady, corrupt behavior. Always remember your culture forms your brand.
- Commitment – During a merger/acquisition, deciding go-forward branding is typically near the top of the To Do list. Whether you opt for a brief co-branding period or hard cut over, all entities must embrace and commit to the new team identity. Uniting under a common brand best promotes a team culture and helps avoid an attitude of “them against us.” Eliminate items with the former brand and substitute with the new to promote company pride as one team.
- Empowerment – Empower your team to make decisions. Don’t penalize them for making mistakes; if you never make mistakes, you’re likely not pushing yourself hard or fast enough. If you do happen to fail, focus on correcting, learning and moving on smarter rather than dwelling on blame.
- Goals – Setting baseline goals comes from the top down. Perfection or 100% should always be the goal. Anything less is an opportunity for improvement.
- Involvement – When starting a new project, ensure initial discussions include everyone who will play a role in execution no matter how large or small. Exclusion could create unnecessary insecurity and confusion. Winnow down the team to core players as practical, but solicit opinions from all members to convey the value of their input and place on the team.
- Accountability – Every player must be held accountable for their position and field assignments for the team to be successful. As Bill Belichick would say “Do your job.” Tracking performance and taking responsibility to make improvements is integral.
- Pace – This also comes from the top down. Set the pace for others to follow. Work hard and fast with the intent to execute better each time. This will guide your team on a path of success.
- Prosper – Setting performance goals and incentives gives those who want to excel the chance to be recognized and advance. It doesn’t matter if they’re in the warehouse, call center or collections – everyone likes to be a winner. Those that do not have the drive to succeed should understand that their future will be dictated by others.
- Camaraderie – While it’s vital for the team to excel on the field, it’s just as important for members to build relationships off the field. Getting to know each other on a more personal level fosters trust and understanding that is difficult to achieve during office hours. There’s a reason that an entire cottage industry is devoted to “team building” activities.
By regularly evaluating your team environment, you can quickly identify and address gaps in your playbook. Always keep your eye on the ball to load the scoreboard.