Your team isn’t enthusiastic about coming to work or working with each other, and there’s a very evident disconnect. In addition, upper-level management has expressed (on multiple occasions) that there needs to be an increase in employee performance. As any resourceful leader would do, you’ve started doing research to figure out what you can do about these challenges. Then company culture and culture building seems to appear in your google search results. There are several articles on why you need a healthy culture and also tons of team building activities that you’re excited to try. With all the social media shares and comments on these articles and posts, once you try one of these activities, you’ll be able to get your team on track and make your culture better in no time, right? Wrong!
Randomly trying out team building activities without first knowing the condition of your company culture is just one of the common mistakes that leaders make when trying to build culture. It’s great that you’ve taken initiative to try and change what’s happening with your team, but jumping into culture building efforts without strategy and clarity won’t get you the results that you’re looking for. If you want your efforts to really make an impact, using the spaghetti method to build culture – throwing ideas against the wall like wet noodles to see what sticks – just isn’t the way to go. In this post, you’ll learn about 5 additional mistakes that leaders make when trying to build culture, and most importantly, how you can avoid them.
If your strategy for building culture in your company is only coming from management, you’ve already failed. #LeadershipMistakes
Mistake #1: You’re Only Approaching Culture Change from the Top Down
If your strategy for building culture in your company is only coming from management, you’ve already failed. The top-down approach means that you may have received goals from upper-level management on areas like performance, quotas, etc. and it’s up to you, as a leader, to have your team reach those goals. Let’s say that increasing employee engagement is on this list of goals from management. Although it’s good that management is considering employee engagement as a goal, your engagement efforts will be void if you only approach it from a manager’s point of view. Employee engagement is about connection and it is only effective when you are clear on what each of your employees need in order to be engaged and why they haven’t been engaged so far.
PRO tip: Start your culture building efforts the right way by knowing the current condition of your company culture. Understanding the reality of your company culture and hearing how your employees feel about it lets you determine which problem areas should be addressed. This workbook includes an email template along with an electronic survey link that you can send to your employees to collect their feedback anonymously.
Mistake #2: You’re Forcing Employee Buy In
You can be the biggest cheerleader about the company goals and changes. You can plan an amazing retreat and even an employee of the month program. But if your employees don’t feel heard, considered, valued, or included, they will not buy into your culture building initiatives.
PRO tip: Find out what your employees want and need to stay motivated at work. Everyone has different reasons as to why they’re working for your company and what they need to feel connected to the company will vary. Once you understand what motivates them individually, you’re able to offer different programs, activities, etc. that are specific to each them. Your efforts should speak to their needs and interests directly.
Mistake #3: You’re Ignoring What’s Happening and What Your Employees Are Saying
Having your employees complete a feedback survey is pointless if you aren’t willing to receive, consider, and act on their responses. There are instances when leaders tend to stay focused on what they believe the problems are with their team rather than what the team is voicing. Part of this is because leaders are more focused on reaching quotas and performance goals (as instructed by management), and this is also partly because some leaders don’t value employee feedback as a valid source of information.
In a previous post, I explained the importance of Why You Must Know Your Current Company Culture Before Trying to Improve It, which you can read by clicking here. This is a very crucial step in all culture building efforts. After all, how can you truly know what isn’t working with your team if you aren’t getting insight from the ones who are actually on the front lines doing the work?
PRO tip: Have regular and candid conversations with your team, individually and collectively, about what’s happening. Your employees should feel welcomed and encouraged to share their insights, ideas, and suggestions. By creating an open feedback dynamic, you’ll become more informed of the good, the bad, and the ugly of what’s occurring in your workplace.
Mistake #4: You’re Expecting Immediate Change
Let’s look at culture building like a fitness journey. If you’re 30 pounds overweight and decide that now is the time to focus on your health and get fit, you’re not going to lose that weight overnight. Going to the gym and cutting junk food from your diet for one week isn’t going to make a drastic difference in the way you look. In the words of fitness expert James Abrams, “you can’t erase years of bad diet and no exercise with a few gym visits and a couple of salads. If it took time for you to gain the weight, it will take time for you to lose it”.
PRO tip: Set some goals of what you’d like to see happening with your team. Whether it’s seeing your team communicate better with each other or increased performance; make note of it. The key is not to focus on a timeline of when you should start to see the results, but that you actually start to see results. If you get hung up on reaching a quick turnaround for your culture to improve, you’ll lose sight of the value and positive impact that a better culture will have on your employees and the company.
Mistake #5: You’re Inconsistent
Since the example of a fitness journey seemed to flow so well with this topic, let’s continue to use it to explain the last mistake that leaders make. When you’re inconsistent with working out, eating healthy and making better lifestyle choices, what happens? You don’t see the results that you’re hoping for. Your abs are not coming in and there’s still some uncomfortable movement under your arms when you wave to people. You’ve probably already guessed where I’m going with this, but I’ll say it anyhow. If you are not consistent with your efforts to build a better company culture, you will not see results. One employee feedback survey and a couple of team meetings just won’t do the trick. If you’re serious about seeing change with your culture, you must make your actions a consistent priority.
PRO tip: You should be very clear on the type of culture you want to create with your employees (and why) before you start trying to implement change efforts. Once you’re clear on the reason for building culture, you can brainstorm and outline the actions necessary to see results. For example, if one of the reasons you want to build culture is to increase collaboration, a few of your actions would likely include team building activities, effective communication practices, training classes, etc. Be clear on why you’re building culture, outline your actions, plan how you’ll execute them, and be consistent with them.
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