How to Change Your Culture and Grow Your Team
All work teams have a culture that influences their performance. The question for managers:
1. Does that culture enhance or detract from your engagement and performance?
2. Are you designing/influencing the culture or is the culture impeding/influencing your performance?
While an organization may have a culture of it's own, each team has their own sub-culture. THIS is the domain of the manager or supervisor. Knowing how to influence can be the difference between having a team that is reactive and proactive.
While organizational culture is driven by values, team cultures can be driven by something simpler: Laws. Laws are simple truths that help govern the mindsets & behaviors of a group.
For example, "What You Focus On Expands." This simple law, when internalized by a team, can make it easier to hold a mindset or make decisions at times of challenge. Will we focus on what's "wrong" with our people or will we focus on what's wrong with our processes (that make it hard for our people to do their best work)? Will we focus on our problems or our experiments? Will we focus on what's unfair or what choices we can make?
A great law is simple, memorable, and can be used in your life as well as work. It helps foster mindset and discern action. Focus on a problem, all you get is more problems. Focus on opportunity, you see more options.
I'm a big fan of how Keller Williams has incorporated laws into their training for new real estate agents. Their BOLD course (Business Objective, Life by Design) for new agents effectively uses laws to instill mindsets for personal and business success.
So how do you use laws to influence team culture? As a manager, start small and build.
1. See the Gap. Identify 1-2 mindsets/behaviors that you know TAKE AWAY from your engagement and/or performance. Then define 1-2 laws that foster the engagement/performance you want.
2. Live the Law. Post it up. Share it. Let your team know that you are explicitly working on living this law because you struggle with X and you want to be even better at Y. You HAVE to model the change before you can expect others to live it for themselves. Your team has to equate YOU with the LAW (i.e.- What You Focus On Expands-- "Chris always focuses on what's possible")
3. Share the Law. Bring your team together and talk through the pain-points you have seen/experienced and the impact you know it creates on engagement/performance. Invite conversation from your team. Use this as the opportunity to introduce the Law and how it will open up new ways of thinking.
4. Practice. Internalizing a new way of thinking takes time. Leverage your practices (meetings, huddles, 1:1's, etc) to PURPOSELY integrate reminding everyone of the law AND to act within it. High frequency, high touch. People need to hear the law repeatedly, daily. They need to SEE it... so post it in a highly visible place(s). They need to interact with it and decide, "What will I focus on?" The only way to make this reliable is to embed it into your current practices. If you don't have any reliable practices to interact as a team... then we need to work on THAT first.
As a manager, you are not the sole architect of the culture around you, but you do possess great ability to influence and steward it. Most of the game is just knowing how to do it. Start now. Call me if you need help. Your outcome is connected to your personal commitment to it. Go...be in action.