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The Company Culture Trait Most Managers Miss

Jan 13, 2020

Multi ethnic business team at a meeting. Interacting. Focus on woman

If you want to know how to change company culture, set aside the usual office morale boosters—yes, even the good ones—and start here instead.

Hint: Unless you nail this trait, all your other workplace-culture efforts will fall flat. But if you pick up this trait and run with it, all your other efforts will take on new strength. And so will you.

Quiz time: "What we've got here is failure to ..."
  1. make work more like a pep rally
  2. give out bigger bonus checks
  3. solve the so-called millennial crisis 
  4. communicate
Yes. Most business owners and managers assume everyone on their team is operating under the same set of assumptions. Chances aren excellent they are not. 
The late Nathaniel Branden wrote about this is in his book Taking Responsibility. One of his clients, the CEO of a mid-size firm, asked Branden to help him determine why his firm lacked accountabilityand what could be done to fix it. 
Branden suggested the CEO start by asking each senior manager to write a memo stating what exactly they believed they were responsible for and what they would like to be responsible for. Guess what surfaced?
Confusion. Gaps. Overlap. Unbeknownst to one another, the managers were chasing different outcomes and leading their people to do the same. Imagine the frustration this caused. Imagine how happy this would make the firm's competitors.
Now imagine if you could clear out the confusion and break through the frustration(s) within your own team. If you did this same simple exercise, think of the valuable information you would get. Think of the roadblocks you would remove, maybe for a lifetime. 
What is it costing you not to have this info? When it comes to moving company culture forward, communication is the cure-all. Certainly one of them.
Start clearing up the confusion in your organization today—uncover the "stuck stress" hiding beneath the surface. Ask the tough questions, even if the answers seem obvious. That's what the CEO did in the above example.
Improving company culture and office morale in 3 simple steps

  1. Get your entire team playing the same song in the same key—this will strengthen your team and weaken your competitors
  2. Get crystal clear on who's responsible for what, even if it involves uncomfortable conversations
  3. Recognize each team member's contribution in ways that matter to them
That last point—that's a whole other discussion for another day. But start moving your team toward clarity of purpose. Only leaders who are courageous will take the time. But that's the kind of leader every high-performing team wants to work for. 

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