No matter what size outfit you’re leading, businesses ultimately succeed or fail on the strengths and weaknesses of their internal cultures. While companies that fall short in this respect can occasionally knock out stellar results for a limited time, the hallmark of all long-term success stories is the presence of a carefully created culture that everybody truly buys into.
Creating a winning culture isn’t necessarily easy, but there are some straightforward rules of thumb you can stick to that will radically increase your chances of success. And the extra effort is also more than worth it – particularly for smaller business owners. Let’s look at four key steps you can start taking today to build a winning culture in your organisation.
1. Explicitly Define Your Values (And Bake Them In)
Step number one is explicitly listing the values you expect your company and its personnel to live up to. Blindingly obvious though it may seem, the amount of firms who never actually get around to actually doing this is remarkable. Even the simple act of committing your core values to writing and sharing and discussing them with your team will put you in surprisingly rare company.
Documenting values isn’t enough on its own. You’ve also got to work those shared expectations deeply into your day-to-day processes. Remember, it can be tempting to ditch loftier aims when everyone’s running around with their hair on fire – your codified values are there to keep everybody honest and aligned in bad times as well as good.
2. Treat Your Talent as a Team
Virtually every company on earth pays at least lip service to the concept of teams, but very few firms actually walk the talk. Genuine team building is as much an art as a science and will take time to master. As a business owner, however, this is one of the highest quality uses of your time that you can possibly invest in – take it seriously!
How does this look in practice? It means you’re creating a mutually supportive environment where individual success contributes strongly to the greater good for starters. It’s also about making sure that unique talents are spotted and actively developed, while still keeping a close eye on overall team cohesion. On well-run teams, there’s a genuine sense of camaraderie and shared goals that automatically translates into a winning mentality, and substantially better results down the line.
3. Give People Ownership of Their Results
Speaking of results, it’s incredibly important that each team member has a very clear picture of what results they are responsible for and how well they are doing at all times. Even in smaller organisations, it’s very easy for people to feel little to no sense of agency if the nature of their role hasn’t been adequately defined. By giving your team clarity about what’s expected of them (and a real stake in core company goals), you create substantially more motivated workers and go a long way towards fostering a winning culture generally.
4. Make Trust a Core Team Value
We’ll keep the last point brief – winning teams are built on trust, and trust has to be mutually earned. By actively promoting trust as a core team value (and holding yourself and others to high trust standards), you foster a culture in which people are willing to take appropriate risks and go above and beyond to hit stretch goals. Without trust, you’re dealing with a group of mercenaries. With trust, you’re running a successful, winning team.
By choosing to make culture a priority and paying attention to our four steps above, you’ll find daily wins starting to pile up remarkably quickly. Stick with the practice over time and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying all the long-term benefits a truly winning culture can deliver!