Build your culture

If I think back upon my career and think about positive culture I can say that I have been fortunate enough to work in some pretty great teams. Notwithstanding the chef who threw hot pans at me as a dishpig or certain managers that I have had that thought guilt was the most positive motivator, I have consistently had managers that, although not perfect, were able to get the best from myself and the team by bringing us together and having us focus on a common goal and thus creating a good workplace culture. 

The idea of culture building and what makes a good culture is something that HR and Management professionals bang on about continually. But when asked to define it they often suck air and look confused and I am no different. My one go-to however is the strength and bond that a team forms when they face adversity together.

 I have experienced this throughout my life starting firstly on the sporting field where I quickly identified that teams that could lose a game and stay united were a much more cohesive unit when under pressure. Instead of focusing on anger and blame they focused on team spirit. I next saw this theory proven through the remarkable bond that I shared with those that I was in the Army with. The Army for all its faults in Management has an extraordinary ability to forge together groups of men and women under extraordinary stress and have them emerge ready to face challenges together that a normal civilian would not contemplate. 

The takeaway from this is that after a group of people face adversity together and are able to do so without resorting to blame or even worse quitting, grow a culture of trust and respect for those that came with them on that journey.

So without becoming an architect of anarchy within your own workplace, how do you create a sense of adversity for all to triumph over? Put simply, you encourage a culture of not approaching problems alone. For example, the next time you have a client complaint or issue that requires resolution, bring in the team and have them work together on a solution instead of leaving whoever was responsible to fix it on their own. 

Another effective yet slightly more intensive method is to undertake team building exercises that put your employees well outside of their comfort zone. While I’m not saying that you need to send them on a 1 week survival camp, water, height and complex problem solving situations are tested measures that can bring the team together and help them build a shared trust and respect of one another. 

So if you are another business looking to build culture I cannot encourage enough that you undertake an exercise in facing adversity together. Under the right circumstances you will see people do things and act in ways you have never seen. Handled well each member emerges with a newfound respect for their team mates and a newly forged bond that positively improves your culture.