What is the culture like on your team? Are you frustrated by it? Happy with it? Proud of it?
I read a blog a few years ago that stuck with me: You Create the Culture, Punk, by Ben Arment. It's a very short read, go and check that out.
Often times, we find ourselves in a culture that is awkward and not as we wish it could be. What do you do in those times and how do you correct it? Perhaps the culture issues are deeply systemic and not of your making, but you are now tasked to engage with and lead a team that is locked in a culture war - so to speak.
As leaders, we need to own the culture we are creating. If you're not happy with how yours sits right now, go after it and fix it. There's no time to waste—without change, you risk losing those you most want to keep around.
A few things to put in place immediately, if they are not already there.
You must interview, audition and evaluate your team members. The obvious reason, of course, is you need team members that are at a certain skill level that meet your objectives and goals. But the often times overlooked part, is you need to ensure there is a cultural "fit". This is probably the most important aspect of on-boarding any new team member. It is something we talk about and lead the way on with any new addition to the team. People do not make it onto our team, without first hearing our Code (Core Values) and at some point acknowledge their willingness to engage on a equal plane of living out those values.
For me personally, I and my family live by very similar code statements as my team, so it's easy to engage and lead our people in the same manner. Some of our code is, "we will always bring our best," "we will be big-thinking, bet the farm risk takers," (we will never dishonor God by playing it safe) "we will be irrationally generous".
Let me just stop right there, irrational generosity is so foreign to us today. When I speak of irrational generosity, I am not necessarily speaking of monetary gifts etc. I believe one can be irrationally generous with almost everything around their life. Perhaps you literally are thinking, I have nothing of value to give, well let me just tell you, you have time, you have patience, you have the power of God living inside of you. Being irrationally generous with our time is HUGE. We give irrationally of our time to serving others, our church and even other churches. We as a team; I and my family, we will always be about the capital "C" church. I will never turn away another church or church leader seeking help and assistance.
"We will do whatever it takes to see the Kingdom advance." A huge code statement that my family lives by, and it is not always easy. I can tell you there are times I buy things, spend money and do things that are not by any "normal" rational mind healthy for our overall financial standing as a family, but we do it.
We have been incredibly blessed and we give no matter the cost and will always strive to live that way. If you are sitting behind a computer screen of any kind reading this, most likely you too are incredibly blessed. Most likely you live in a country that has running water and heaters in the house you live in. In fact, speaking of houses, you are so incredibly blessed, that you even have a house for your car - your garage.
If you are freely reading this, without a government official watching over you every action and click, you are incredibly blessed. Yes I know, not every one of us has spare, disposal income to be irrationally generous with. How do you get there? Margin! You build margin into your culture of life. You make room for the power of generosity to flow through you. The culture of margin is yet another need on our teams.
Some cultural values I lead all of our teams to are: we want a culture that is fun and relaxed; we want people with great attitudes: we want people that serve each other; we want people that are committed and dedicated; we want people that are highly skilled (or have the potential of becoming highly-skilled) on our teams; and most importantly, we are ultra-prepared and will always bring our best.
We work hard and we prepare hard, so we must make sure that in our down-time, we play hard. This culture is incredibly important for teams that serve countless hours week end and week out.
Culture does not have to mean a specific age or style. We are a multi-generational, multi-cultural team and diversity is huge for any team to be truly successful. The teams I currently lead have people in their teens to 60 somethings. We have oil-field workers, stay at home moms, machinists and professionals.
You want a relaxed, fun team with amazing camaraderie. The culture starts with you—you set the attitude and expectations; you own it and lead the way.
If you find yourself in a culture that isn't what you want, it's time to act and act fast. It's past time to correct the ship and improve or even create, in some cases, the culture on your team.