Work As a Team and Not As an Isolated Group of Individuals
It’s simple, teams place their team first, individuals place themselves first. Teams need to be led but generally, a team will always outperform an individual and look out for the best interests of the company. If a team member strays too far from the company’s goals, it’s likely another member will be able to help reset that person’s compass.
Individuals act on their own and have no such self-correcting mechanism and they are more apt to cost the company time and money potentially damaging the company’s reputation as well.
Companies should encourage and reward individual contributions but they must do so within the context of a company framework.
The best teams work well together because they know their team members are committed to helping them when necessary. Each member feels a sense of pride no matter who gets credit for a specific contribution because they accomplish their tasks as a unit.
Teams work together and encourage each other in order to help each person achieve his or her maximum potential. They find satisfaction in helping others and take comfort in knowing that “other team members have their back.”
Teams work best when everyone feels part of the group. They nurture and support each other. In contrast, individuals are more likely to either create or shy away from conflicts, first becoming ineffective and then irrelevant.
Other Elements That Are Important in Building a Company’s Culture
You know your culture is working when your employees look forward to coming to work. Even though this should be the “norm,” just ask yourself how many people do you know that love going to work?
A positive corporate culture should instill inspiration and optimism in the soul of its team members.
Your First Employee Is Key Because That Employee Sets the Bar and It’s Better to Set It Too High Than Too Low
You want diversity, of course, but you don’t want diversity of values.
Surround yourself with people who are “A “Players” and never, ever, hire any jerks because a spot on the roster is vacant.
Build a team that is so talented they raise everybody’s game.
Employer Self Test
Periodically look at your company as if through the eyes of your employees. Is the company looking out for the employees’ best interests? Does it provide an industry-leading benefits program such as health and life insurance, number of vacation and personal days off, comfortable working conditions, recognition and rewards programs, etc.?
If not, why would you expect your employees to go above and beyond what the minimum requirements acceptable? Why would you expect them to have positive attitudes? And why are you surprised when many do the least they possibly can just short of getting fired?
Reexamine Your Company’s Communications Policies
Ensure that your policies emphasize the company is interested in the welfare of its employees. Are you paying attention to those small things that cost little but have great emotional impact such as celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries or giving them a day off when their child graduates from school or just declaring (without advance warning), an employee appreciation day and catering lunch.
If you’re a new company, start building your company’s culture with a set of core values. Define what is important and communicate it. If you’re an established company and your culture doesn’t reflect the values you hold dear, then decide how you plan to change it and make this one of your most important priorities. If you don’t do this now, I assure you it will cost more time, money and aggravation in the future.
When Was the Last Time You Analyzed Your Manager-Employee Relationship?
This is critical to your company’s success yet most entrepreneurs have never even thought about it, much less done anything about it in an institutionalized and planned manner.
So ask yourself, do your managers lead by positive example? Do your employees feel management is helpful and appreciative? Does a mutual level of respect exist? Or, is there constant friction between your employees and your managers? Has this friction led to low productivity and high turnover?
Now That You’ve Started Thinking About the Relationship Between Your Manager and Employees, How Do Your Employees Feel About Each Other? Are interactions among co-workers mostly positive and mutually respectful? Or, is there frequent arguing, complaining and, in general, lack of interest or support in helping and mentoring each other?
We’ve been talking about building a culture that fosters harmony, growth and direction for the company but you don’t build a culture and then find a product to fit the culture. You must first have a product or service that has value and is saleable in sufficient quantities so the company has a path to profitability Only then can your company culture exert its powerful effect on your employees by guiding them to inherently act or to behave in a specific way that is acceptable to you as an entrepreneur, even when you are not present to tell them what to do.
Generally, when a company is first launched, management and subordinates discuss most decisions together. In this type of environment, communication is direct and all employees know what is acceptable and expected. But after a company starts to grow it becomes almost impossible to know all your employees names, much less their personalities, capabilities, motivations, aspirations and contributions. Now it becomes much more difficult to communicate effectively, receive feedback and evaluate and prioritize the company’s decisions. Your time and effort may be directed to one department but people in another may not know what’s going on and they may feel neglected.
To keep your team functioning at the highest level, no matter how many employees you now have, it’s imperative not to lose that entrepreneurial spirit and teamwork. In situations like this, an effective culture holds the company together but it is incumbent on you to make your presence known and that your employees’ contributions are both recognized and appreciated.