Saving Company Culture

June 16, 2021

It happens to all of us…that moment when we look around and say, “how did we get here, where did we go astray?”

You think you’ve created a great team, a positive company culture and things seem to be going along just fine and then BOOM! The train is off the rails.

This week, we’ve invited Ruth Mannschreck, one of our Master Coaches, to be our guest blogger. Here are Ruth’s tips for keeping your company culture healthy and on-track.

 


As a family, we are big fans of the Disney collection of movies.  Between my kids and my grandchildren, I have probably seen the Incredible series of movies 10 times.  My favorite line comes from Mr. Incredible in a moment of complete exasperation:

“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back into jeopardy again.  Sometimes I just want it to stay saved!”.

Call it entropy.  Call it human nature.  But it happens everywhere in life and business.  Weeds take over the garden … rooms get dusty  … and sometimes team members behave badly.

I used to take it personally.  That they might believe I was OK with certain behaviors!  But over time I have come to realize that their behavior is a reflection of their perception of our business culture at that moment.  Right or wrong, team behavior is a tangible picture of their current understanding of my/your business culture.

And actually, this is quite a handy alarm system.  Culture (like a relationship of any kind) feels so good when everything is going well.  We get lulled into a false sense of security and sadly stop paying close attention to it.  So how can we get things back on track?

Prevention is always your best, first step.  You can talk about culture with your team until you are blue in the face … but if they don’t have tangible examples of your culture in action, it’s all wasted breath.  As the business owner, you have the perfect opportunity to lead them through these experiences.  Yes, I said experiences NOT explanations.

Less talking, more doing.  Many businesses use role-playing as a tool to clarify the effect of core values and culture on relationships with clients, relationships with other team members and relationships with you.  How else could you turn your values and your culture into tangible behaviors that make sense to your team?  Do some brainstorming … with your team.

Create a safe space for them (and you) to practice and experiment without fear of repercussion.  This is the perfect place to lead with vulnerability and courage.  Role model it for them.  Your team may never have experienced culture and leadership like yours.  You (and they) might not get it right in the beginning.  Progress is messy sometimes.  Make it ok to begin messy progress.

Reward all steps in the right direction (even the tiny ones).  Help them get used to being successful at this.  Eventually they will pick up momentum, but in the beginning support them in every possible way that encourages THEM.

Rinse and repeat.  Your leadership of your team is never done.  The weeds ALWAYS need to be tended to.  The house ALWAYS needs to be cleaned again.  But consistency will create an environment where you spend more time gently “reminding” instead of full-blown instruction from the beginning.

Catch it early, catch it fast.  This requires ongoing engagement with your team members.  You are able to delegate many things as the leader of your business … but connection and a relationship with your team members is not something to hand off.  BE the best visible embodiment of your core values and the culture you desire in your business.


Thanks, Ruth, for this great advice.

Readers, we’re curious. What’s ONE situation in your work environment that could use some attention?  Where can you put this into action, today?

Go forth and do great things,

Martha and Chris