How You Should Build An Effective Work Culture In Difficult Times

How our days go at work has a major influence and impact on how our time will be at home. If you are at a leadership position, it is imperative that your moods and actions will get influenced by the performance & culture of your people working under your leadership.

Once I was asked, what do you mean by Culture? and I did’t had an answer then. The question triggered my mind to find an answer to this question, and I started looking around deep down in my past experiences at work places and at my home. It took me few days to find an answer which resonates with me very closely.

Culture is what you do & behave day in day out as a Leader, consciously, unconsciously and sub-consciously. Your team just copies you because, they look up to you and feel what you do is the right thing to do.

Hence as a Leader, you should consider these ten principles to build an effective culture.

Heart To Heart Dialogue: 

Just listening or talking is not enough, it needs to get powered by being mindful and conscious throughout the interaction. Listen with an intent to feel and understand and empathize wherever required. Speak with an intent where the other person feels heard. Take mutual actions wherever required to strengthen the outcome of dialogue. A dialogue is a bridge between two individuals which they walk everyday.

How Do You Build It: Sit down once in a month with your core team and ask them how are they doing and where they need your help?

Mutual Trust: 

Nothing moves forward without this key ingredient and it starts from you. You need to show it to your team that you trust them and with time they start showing it back to you. Trust is built by believing in the team and helping them understand the importance of their own actions and nurture accountability.

How Do You Build It: When people come up to with an idea, it means they already have the ownership of the idea and expect it to be executed. Respect their ideas and help them execute it effectively. Use the keywords ” Let’s try this and I trust that your great idea will get great results.”

Transparency: 

What is Transparency? It is being aware of the impact of a decision, because I was part of the decision making process. before it is being executed. If trust are bricks, transparency is the cement. Have the courage to share your thoughts with the team and carry the news – good or bad, leave it to the person to decide who’s listening to it. You should be looked like someone who is fearless and has the courage to call Spade a Spade. A well informed team delivers well executed actions.

How Do You Build It: Make your team a part of the decision making process. Tell them that you are in a situation and need help to make a decision. Show your vulnerability. When your colleagues buy in to your issues and concerns, you must be sure they will come to you when they feel vulnerable.

Be Authentic: 

This word is gaining popularity however the question still lingers around as what is being authentic. It’s a combination of all the above three. Heart to Heart dialogue, ensure that you are interested in the other person, your actions will build the trust and being transparent will build your character. Once you do all these, there will be no two sides of you. You become your authentic self.

Solution Focused: 

If you don’t have a solution then you are the problem yourself. Build a culture of being solution focused, ask questions on possible solutions whenever someone comes to you with an issue.

How Do You Build It:  If your colleague comes to you with an issue or concern, ask them “What do you think we should do?” Ask them why they think they should choose this solution. Soon you will have a team, who looks for solution and can validate their own decisions.

Execute: 

Bring ideas and intent to life. History only remembers people who have done it, and graveyards are filled with people with great intent. Team will only believe in you and keep coming up with great ideas when they see their ideas getting executed. Put all ideas to test. Create space for team to come up with new ideas.

How Do You Build It:  Create an Idea Wall in a place which has maximum visibility of all your colleagues and Write the Issue. Ideas comes best when you don’t ask them in public, as people fear being ridiculed. Let the idea come anonymously by asking people to post ideas on the wall without names. When you select an idea which is seems to be addressing the concern, work closely to execute it, and the let the person take the credit. Reward and recognize the associate.

Training & Coaching: 

Training & Coaching to Team is like Exercise to Body. In the words of Army “When You Sweat In Peace, You Bleed Less In War”. This is the best way to build a culture and right behavior.

Give Regular Feed Forwards: 

Anyone can give Feedback but not everyone can give Feed Forwards. Feedback looks like “Why didn’t you do it?”; Feed Forwards look like “Why do you think this happened and what do you plan to do, so that it doesn’t happen next time.”

Don’t put answers into your team’s mouth, don’t spoon feed them. You guide them to find out what are they supposed to do, when they don’t have answers. That’s how you build their self-confidence and create empowerment.

How Do You Build It:  Start by asking question when you sit for performance discussions. “How do you think you have done in past one month?”, “What do you think you could have done better?”, “Where do you need my help to get the results that you want?” and ending with “Here’s what I would recommend you to add to your action plan to achieve your results?”

Appreciate Often: 

Build a culture of Behavior Appreciation. Catch people doing right things and appreciate the behavior shown while doing something because that’s what you want to promote. Everyone says Good Job, very few mention Why it’s a Good Job. It’s human nature to crave for appreciation, appreciate people. You will help to build right behavior and confidence.

How Do You Build It:  It’s easy. Appreciate people when they do a good job. When you appreciate, be specific on what are you appreciating them for. “You have done a good job. I really liked the way you handled the irate customer, You were calm and composed and didn’t interrupt the customer while he was talking”. When you appreciate the specifics behavior on display, you are fostering a culture of right behavior.

Create Psychologically Safe Environment: 

Your workplace is your second home for associates and for you. We return to our homes because we feel safe and be ourselves; that what you should striving to create your workplace as well for your associates.

Create an environment where team members can feel free to express themselves and feel heard.

How Do You Build It:  The best way to check if you have a safe environment is – suddenly walk in to any department and if you feel an awkward silence, means it not a safe environment yet. Share you experiences and failures often with team. Share jokes, awkward situations and embarrassments that you have faced in your career. Let them know that you have the same roots as theirs. When you share your stories, your hear theirs. That’s when they feel they are not being judged for their follies.

By living a culture yourself, you create a Team culture. Actions inspire more people than what words could.

Remember: What you do is Culture, What You Don’t Do is Culture. What your see is Culture, What your ignore is also Culture. What you feel is Culture and what you don’t feel is also Culture.

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