Jill had been hired as her company’s new president. One of her first board-assigned tasks was a big one: creating measurable improvement within the overall culture of the organization. Although a daunting prospect to some, Jill was no stranger to these kinds of initiatives. She knew exactly where to start: by learning about the company’s teams.
Scheduling individual meetings with her direct-report department heads, Jill asked each leader to describe their team. How well did they know their employees? What skills did their team members have, and where did gaps exist? What were the team’s strengths? In what areas could they improve?
More than one leader commented that they wished their departments would perform more like that of their co-worker, Dan. Dan’s marketing team had strong relationships, was highly creative, and always delivered. His group had exceeded their objectives four years in a row, bringing positive attention to the company among industry peers.
Jill knew she had found what she was looking for. Good organizational culture starts with good teams, and she wanted to dig in to learn what made Dan’s team tick. When Jill interviewed Dan, she uncovered key traits to integrate into her organizational culture improvement plan.
A Trusting Environment
Dan cultivated trust among the members of his marketing team by giving them opportunities to get to know one another both inside and outside the office. Should conflict arise, Dan encouraged his team to view it as an opportunity to “collaborate instead of separate”. This intentional relationship-building among his team members yielded positive results: they had a special bond… and each other’s backs. Another benefit was that his department had the lowest rate of absenteeism. Not surprising, since Gallup studies show that friendships within the workplace contribute to employee engagement, satisfaction, and increased productivity.
Healthy Communication Practices
Although research shows that nearly 70% of managers don’t feel comfortable communicating with their subordinates, this was definitely not the case with Dan and his marketing team. A gifted communicator, Dan employed frequent feedback and encouraged it among his team members at all levels--from interns to senior staff. Dan recognized and addressed problems early, and determined what was needed to solve them, even if that meant going up the ladder on an employee’s behalf.
Clear Vision and Values
According to a recent study by ZipDo, 28% of employees don’t communicate often about their company’s vision. Why? They don’t have a clear understanding of it. Dan kept his team in the loop regarding the company’s plans, goals, and initiatives, making sure each team member could envision their role in the organization’s future. Dan constantly reminded his team of the “why” behind what they were doing, and the impact that their team had on customers. With a vivid vision of their company’s purpose, it’s no wonder Dan’s team consistently surpassed their objectives; the same ZipDo research found that employee productivity is likely to increase over 3.5 times when they feel engaged to the company’s goals.
An Attitude of Gratitude
Avoiding a top-down, autocratic leadership approach, Dan exhibited a coaching mindset within his team. By focusing on each member’s strengths, he allowed his employees to learn and grow from one another as they achieved their departmental goals. Although his expectations were high, Dan always made time to acknowledge the big wins along with the everyday achievements. The results? His team members were among the longest-tenured in the company, with studies showing that 63% of employees value a culture of praise even more than additional compensation.
Great Teams Start with Great Leaders
Jill recognized that Dan modeled the behaviors that he expected from his team, building trusting relationships and increased communication in the process. Relating the vision and values of the company promoted buy-in among Dan’s employees, and saying “Thanks” authentically and often kept his workers fueled.
Using Dan’s marketing group as an example of micro-culture within the company, Jill had a clear view of the gaps in the leadership styles of her other managers. She knew that with the right training they would no longer be coveting the success of Dan’s department, but would instead be harnessing the power within their own.
Strong teams are critical to creating a cohesive culture throughout an organization. How equipped are your leaders as team builders? Book a discovery call today to find out.