Starting a business and getting it running obviously entails a great deal of work, time, money, and thought. Those things are inevitable.
In that whirlwind of stressors, we can often lose sight of the future and what we should do now to ensure it’s a good one. It’s important to remember that your team is going to sustain your business in the long run.
Making them happy is essential, and there are a few ways you can do this. You also have to ensure that they are productive. Cultivating an exceptional team culture is the best way to satisfy your employees both mentally and socially, in addition to ensuring that their work gets done.
How to Create Exceptional Team Culture
Allow us to paint a couple of pictures in your head before we get started.
Imagine two decent businesses side by side. In one, employees cycle through with the seasons, people are worked to the bone, and the owner comes in, does their work, and leaves at 5 o’clock each day.
In the second business, the same few employees have worked with the company since its start. They’re all close with each other, interested in the lives and families of one another, and the boss is seen as an authority figure that seconds as a friend. People leave when the work is done because they care that it gets finished.
If you’re not sold on the idea of a team culture, just think about those two examples. Which business would you rather be? Even if business one and two made the same profit, the second option is clearly a more enjoyable, satisfying place for the people inside.
But how do you get a positive team culture in your business?
First Things First
The traditional view of employees is that they are there to work, serve their purpose, clock out, and go home.
Generally, yes, those are things that happen at a job. At the same time, the quality of the work, how much they enjoy their time, and whether or not your business thrives are all changed when you change your view of the employee.
The person you’re working with is another person who, although you own the business, is an equal. Sure, we have to have a hierarchy of command in order for things to move how they should, but beyond that framework, the employee is a peer.
The chain of command is an important one, and it should be built on respect. You will only gain the respect of your employees, if you show them that you can do your job well while taking the time to know and care about their lives to some degree.
The level to which you get to know your employees should be adjusted on an individual basis. Different people have different preferences when it comes to personal interaction, and if you use a blanket method to get to know everyone, your efforts will appear false.
Typically, actually being interested in the person will generate a relationship of respect. You have to try, even if you aren’t used to taking an interest in others.
An Environment of Community
How to create exceptional team culture starts with employees being reliant on and supportive of each other. This can only happen when a few things are in place:
1. A Business That Cares
Generally, people aren’t going to care about a place that doesn’t care about them.
You can show your respect for employees in a number of ways that aren’t necessarily financial. Sure, great wages and employee benefit packages are a couple of ways to make people work to keep their job, but there’s more to it these days.
People are becoming more and more aware of the business world and all of its flaws. Corporate greed, the destruction of the environment, and resistance to change are a few of those flaws that come to mind. Employees are educated about what businesses should or shouldn’t do.
Or, more specifically, they have clear opinions about those things. In general, that means that people are beginning to care more about businesses that give back. Further, they want to work for a business that contributes to making the world a better place.
How to Give Back for Your Employees
Beyond financial compensation, you can give something along the lines of a recognition of your respect for your employees. Take a poll or speak with your staff about what they really care about.
What are the issues in the community that are actually affecting them or their families? What are the global issues that your staff cares about as a whole? Consider contributing a small portion of proceeds to those causes every month or year.
Further, think about giving donations, if your staff meets a certain mark every month or year. In other words, make your business an extension of the work that nonprofits and charities are doing to make the world a better place.
Employees respond with productivity when they feel that the work they do is contributing to a good cause. It makes that run to the filing cabinet a little more justified and creates a silver lining around that tedious paperwork.
2. A Sense of Identity
Another side effect of employees’ awareness of unethical business practices is the knowledge that many companies don’t care about their employees. Employees, to the corporation and large business, are nuts and bolts.
People are raw material, used as a means to a business end. As a response, people want to embolden their identities through their place of work. Instead of just working for a business, they would like to feel as though they are an integral part of it, and that their being a part of it is a positive thing for the world.
People want to wake up and associate their job with their identity. This is a difficult thing to manage, especially if you’re not in an industry that people are typically passionate about.
That said, showing that you truly care about your employees and their values will be a move in the right direction. Further, you should establish a space where your employees have an opportunity to get close to one another.
3. Healthy Group Development
We’ve all been to the cheesy work get-together that we didn’t want to attend. You show up, stand around awkwardly for a moment or two, eventually situating yourself next to the only other person who doesn’t want to be there as much as you do.
Flash forward five years and you’re still sitting next to that person, except you’re out on the town with them, enjoying a drink as old friends. The point is, setting up any sort of regular gatherings for your employees will facilitate relationships.
That’s the key to how to create exceptional team culture. Relationships need to have an opportunity to develop. Putting everyone together in a non-work environment will allow their true selves to come through, leading to a more natural and confident group of employees in the workplace.
You should try to offer as many chances for the team to get together as you can.
Another key element of how to create exceptional team culture is reliance. Not dependency, but the need for everyone to do their fair share of the work.
A workplace where no one is reliant on one another is one where tasks don’t really feel that important. When people do their own work with no real connection to the fact that others are affected by the quality of work, tasks seem like menial busy work.
When the tasks you do don’t have any meaning, your job begins to feel like it doesn’t have meaning. You’re not satisfied, you don’t care about the job, so you don’t feel the need to get along with coworkers, and boom, you’re not part of the team.
Work should be structured so that multiple people are working toward the same goal. It isn’t like junior high when one person could slack, and the rest of the group had to do the bulk of the work. Nope, the slacking employee in the real world will get fired.
Ideally, though, that person won’t exist. If you care about the person you’re working with, you won’t want to make them do any more work than they have to. In fact, you may find that your employees will do extra work as a favor to their teammates.
5. Problem Solving
There are bound to be situations where one employee is unhappy with another. Those things are important to notice and work on if you want to have a healthy team.
Sure, it’s uncomfortable to voice your frustrations, if they don’t feel like they’re important to anyone else. The thing is, when frustration gets in the way of the work, a team that’s reliant upon one another will inevitably suffer.
Find a way to round table everyone’s thoughts and feelings and take the time to solve interpersonal problems as they arise. This will lead to a great deal of growth on the part of the team and the individual.
Not to mention, little problems that go unnoticed will usually lead to big problems in the long run, so take care of them right away!
6. Clear Expectations
Make your ideas and intentions very clear to your staff. They should know what you expect of them and, in turn, what they should expect of themselves.
Give your staff clear individual, group, and business goals to work toward. If there’s no recognition of what’s ahead, what’s the point of even trying to move forward?
Find ways to get your team excited about the work they’re doing and the goals they’ve achieved. Further, instill your excitement about the future in them. You shouldn’t be the only one setting the goals and making plans, though.
Your team will be more engaged and excited if the goals they’re working toward are ones they’ve set. That means allowing incoming ideas and recognizing quality suggestions. If your intern has a knack for marketing, use one of their suggestions.
If your secretary knows a lot about accounting and noticed a flaw, take their ideas about changing the financial software. If those ideas and suggestions fail, what have you lost?
You tried and failed with a new idea. You may have lost a marginal amount of money, but your employee feels valued. They’ll try harder the next time.
On top of that, they’re less likely to tune out or quit the job. The person you show that you care about will care in return. That means more work, better work, and continued interest in the job.
7. Be Appreciative
Finally, make sure you give credit where credit is due! Many people who leave a company feel that they’ve either done all that they can do or don’t feel appreciated.
Appreciation is the accurate assessment of a person’s value, whatever kind of value that may be. To really appreciate your employee, you’ll have to really think about what they’re doing.
Does this person provide an emotional benefit to the office that may not be noticed in a business framework? How does this person’s presence actually affect the quality of work being done?
Maybe your accountant is changing the water cups every day on top of working a little harder each month. Maybe one of your salespeople is putting huge amounts of effort in and getting little return.
Of course, the achievement of business objectives is a clear reason to reward someone and show appreciation. Not all of your employees will be the driving force behind the realization of a goal, though. That doesn’t mean that all employees shouldn’t be appreciated.
You want everyone to feel a part of the team, so you should keep a close eye on those little things.
How to Create Exceptional Team Culture
Like we mentioned before, there’s more to a business than team culture. You’ve got a lot on your plate, and things are bound to slip through the cracks. The more you know, though, the less you’re likely to make mistakes.
For performance-based business consulting, contact The Business Turnaround Group.