6 Minutes Read | Leadership

The 7 Essential Steps to Building a Winning Culture

Andrew Gazdecki

CEO | Bizness Apps

The similarity between business and sports is not something that most people think about. Pro sports uniforms look a lot different than a suit and tie, and pencil pushing is a lot less physical than taking a hip check at center ice.  But, as different as sports or business may seem, both revolve around one very simple concept—a culture of winning.

Professional sports teams spend an incredible amount of time, money, and other resources to acquire the individuals that will make their team more complete and competitive. Most sports teams build more than just winners, they build a cohesive family that works well together.

Netflix prides itself on being a team. CEO Reed Hastings, stated, “We’re like a pro sports team, not a kid’s recreational team.” He points out that he challenges his managers to ask who they would fight hard to keep at Netflix.

Those are the ones he wants to stay, the rest of the employees can take a generous severance so they can fill the roles with stars. Similar to a pro sports team, he only wants to recruit top talent that wants to be part of a winning team.

This approach can be aggressive and isn’t a fit for all companies. Some cultures are built more like a family that encourages a collaborative culture versus a competitive one.

In either case, both organizations have a lot to consider when evaluating candidates. While experience and past performances are heavily weighted qualities, team leaders also have to assess how a potential candidate will mesh into the existing company culture.

Winning isn’t possible without teamwork - great teams are built from great relationships.Click To Tweet

Additionally, leaders need to consider their existing company culture and how it can be improved. The best and most successful teams often have the most natural chemistry. They work well together and appreciate one another’s ideas and unique thought processes. Cultivating this attitude is no easy task.

Here are seven steps to help your organization build the foundation for a better company culture.

There are two types of potential, future employees: those that want a job and those that want a job with your company.

The latter group is much more appealing to hire because they have demonstrated an interest and passion in your company and its goals; they don’t need any added incentives to get out of bed and come to work for your company every day.

Passion goes a long way and translates into more productive, happier employees.Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, passion can be a much harder characteristic to find in an applicant than even great experience. There’s a good chance that none of your potential hires may have this drive and passion just for your company. This doesn’t inherently mean they are bad candidates.

There are plenty of job seekers that went looking for ‘just another job’ and found a lifelong home.

That said, if a passion for your brand isn’t oozing from their pores, you still have to consider how their attitudes and feelings will mesh with others. Maybe their passion is somewhere else, such as in their area of expertise that other members of your organization share.

For example, if you work at a mobile app company, you don’t need to know how to build an app, but maybe you’re passionate about graphic design. As a possible newbie to the company, how willing and capable do they appear to be able to communicate, join activities and insert themselves into the framework of the culture?

Ideally, you want employees that will cause little to no friction with their entry into the ranks.

Communication is at the foundation of any team. Without it, collaboration is impossible.Click To Tweet

Organizations that have a winning company culture not only encourage communication, they provide their teams with the time and tools necessary to communicate effectively in the modern world (chat, video conferences, emails, small group meetings).

Encouraging communication opens up the pathway to a company culture that stimulates the circulation of good ideas and positive thinking.

LinkedIn telecommuting employees have taken communication a step further. They now use a robotic telepresence called Double to better collaborate at the office. This super cool robot consists of an iPad screen, video camera and audio speakers on a Segway type device to roll around the office.

This gives the employee the ability to work closer to their coworkers and contribute to meetings that can get lost when you’re not in the office.

Proper communication between coworkers also makes for an overall happier work environment. Leaving for a job in the morning feels like less of a drag when you’re working surrounded by friends instead of coworkers.

While small talk and office chit chat may seem unproductive, it is actually helping to strengthen the fibers of your office community and will yield more positive relationships and thereby better collaborative efforts.

Creating the perfect company culture for your organization is not an exact science, but rather a give and take that requires blending autonomy with collaboration, socializing with productivity and work and play. As such, you aren’t always going to get it right. Especially when you build a company around autonomy and pushing people to the limits.

Similar to when a pro athlete pushes their physical ability to the limits. When they’re aggressive and trying to get that extra inch they must be 100% perfect for the play to work.

When they can’t execute the play cleanly, mistakes will be made. This will happen when you challenge your employees to execute perfection.

Mistakes are not an if but a when. Every organizational leader knows that there will always be peaks and valleys.Click To Tweet

Learning from your mistakes also means learning to handle mistakes and unexpected downturns. Nothing will test your company culture more than struggling on the ropes late in a quarter.

These are the times when it becomes absolutely crucial to have the ability to galvanize the family and bring them together into a cohesive unit; it’s the time when that culture is put to the test.

Collaboration, for most companies, is a necessity. Different departments have to work alongside one another to ensure that brand messages and brand voice are congruent throughout.

Without this collaboration, the customer experience can become very flawed and damaged, as consumers don’t feel they are interacting with the same brand as they move from department to department.

There’s also a significant discrepancy between forced and required collaboration and willing collaboration.

Many of these departments will meet once a week or once a month to collaborate, but predominantly work independently of one another. This can create a negative connotation with collaboration because it begins to feel more like a chore than a useful practice.

Here are a few reasons silos are created:

  • Putting value on domain expertise
  • Division of ownership on processes
  • Business units are geographically dispersed

Company leaders need to approach collaboration tactfully. You want to encourage it, without it seeming forced or required.

Conversely, it is equally important also to encourage and enable team members to work separately and autonomously. This is good for their individual growth (learning how to work and stay on task alone) and also the team’s overall productivity.

People generally work harder and have fewer distractions when they are working autonomously.Click To Tweet

Piktochart creates a work environment that empowers people to shape and drive their own strategy. They onboard their employees with clear company goals and direction.

This allows employees to align their own strategies with those main goals. This becomes especially important for remote teams where everyone needs to make their own decisions and take initiatives.

Empowering autonomy, in the digital age, also includes giving employees the tools necessary to work wherever they would like, including at home. Thanks to collaborative tools, software, and services like Skype and other communication-based apps, the office is as close as the nearest screen, which gives many people the opportunity to work remotely.

While some companies try to avoid this, others see it as a possible advantage. For the company’s advantage, remote employees allow you to have staff in areas where you do not have a headquarters or office location.

And for the employee, it allows them to work outside the office, during travel or while at home. This is becoming popular with more and more companies today. Buffer believes a distributed remote team will be normal in a few years.

Every employee has to trust the company as a whole, including its mission, current direction, and the products/services offered. Team members have to trust the ideas of others, even if it is contrary to what they feel or believe is right. Only in organizations where trust is at the foundation of every conversation and action will there be a free flow of ideas and feelings shared.

Trust-filled companies see better employee retention rates. Employees are much happier and satisfied with their position when they know they have the unhindered opportunities to present any of their feelings and concerns.

And, more satisfied employees stay loyal for longer. This type of culture also creates an environment where employees can feel more comfortable sharing the problems and issues occurring outside of work that are having an effect on them.
Outside noise can be an extremely damaging force on the mental, emotional and even physical well-being of employees. By having an outlet to make those issues known, these team members can get the help they need with greater proficiency.

The mortar between the bricks in a company culture is trust.Click To Tweet

Leaders and business owners, especially small business owners, have a difficult job when it comes to building trust. They have to let go. All too frequently, business owners try and put everything on their own plate, rather than let the employees in charge of those tasks handle them.

This is an unfortunate insecurity that afflicts many leaders; they have the incorrect notion that they can get things done better and faster than others. Part of building trust is having faith in others to get the job done. After all, isn’t that what you hired them to do?

Aside from the boost to productivity, performance and employee retention rates, perhaps the greatest perk of building a winning culture is it’s much more fun!

At Bizness Apps, a California-based app maker, we create fun at the office in some simple ways. We allow employees to play music in the office, allow employees to bring pets to work, and do quarterly offsite activities. These quarterly activities help build a bond between employees that are hard to make during days at the office.

Often, “fun” at work is a result of simply being successful or having a good quarter — a moment to breathe and relax. But, it shouldn’t be a known commodity only after succeeding.

The company culture that will lead to the highest levels of success is the one that can make the day-to-day fun; that can sustain positivity even during the worst downturns. With trust, communication, and passion as the cornerstones, you can build a company culture that takes the ‘work’ out of ‘work family.’

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