3 Ingredients of a Culture That Says the Right Things
It’s no secret that culture reigns supreme. Far heartier than providing a special service and more valuable than delivering a new product, an engaging culture is that powerful yet abstract force that either compels you to get out of bed in the morning or causes you to hit the snooze button over and over again.
Without a positive working environment, the propensity for normalcy sets in, and to survive in a startup world, you don’t want to be normal. After all, “normal” is synonymous with “ordinary,” and last I checked nothing ordinary outsold or outperformed anything extraordinary.
Ingraining a killer company culture is something that requires daily attention and constant effort. A keen awareness coupled with feedback about what’s said -- and what isn’t -- are key indicators as to the type of culture that exists.
To ensure your culture “says” the right things, here are three essential criteria to generate a high performing culture:
1. Fast feedback
If there was a seventh wonder of the world, it would be the power of fast feedback. I’m not talking about the biannual or quarterly (at best) performance review sessions where your senior asks you why you said “X” on that Tuesday nine weeks ago. The “wait and debrief” approach doesn’t work for the following reason: if something is worth correcting, it’s worth correcting immediately. If it isn’t, then that lesson loses its value.
Make feedback cyclical and habitual. Make it a part of your weekly operating rhythm. After all, it’s easier to make small course corrections than grand changes.
2. Raise the nasty
The best way to overcome problems is to discuss them openly. Aim for a next-step solution rather than playing the retrospective blame-game. The more you cite the “other” as to the bane of your existence, the more people begin to see you not taking accountability for your own choices.
In remote teams it’s really important to over-share information. Many misunderstandings are caused by mistaken assumptions, lack of information and insufficient communication. This is why it's good to keep clear written and verbal communication and organize weekly team video sessions. I have a mantra when it comes to working in teams: over-communicate or under-deliver.
3. Freedom plus trust equals reliability
Alari Aho, CEO of Toggl, demands trust. He believes that freedom of action combined with trust keeps away the "kindergarten syndrome," which is the propensity for managers to control and monitor more than one aspect of their team members’ lives. Don’t do that. Nobody likes being micro-managed.
If trust is an issue, the best way to build trust with someone is to extend it. You do this by trusting their competence and intention. Competence and intention must serve each other because that’s what builds the perception of reliability.
Good culture is one of those things that you don’t realize how necessary it is until you don't have it. Take actions to enhance your culture and make it unforgettable.
Jeff Boss is the author of two books, team leadership coach and former 13-year Navy SEAL where his top awards included four Bronze Stars with valor and two Purple Hearts. Visit him online at www.jeff-boss.com