One of the most important pieces of baking a company’s culture pie is defining why the company exists, who the company is, and what it represents. In today’s modern work environment, company culture is vital, writes Jennifer Jackson of Lucidchart. According to a Glassdoor survey, 56% of employees find a good workplace culture to be more important than salary. In this current work climate where more teams are working remotely it’s important to understand who we are as a company and convey that message to the members of our team despite the physical distance. That goal is accomplished, partly, by creating and refining the company values.
Miles Burke, the founder of 6Q breaks it down.
“Having a set of values can harness the direction your culture takes. Company values really do have the power to drastically improve your company’s culture. Equally, they also have the power to generate criticism and dissent; it’s what you do with them.”
Here are some ways to avoid dissent and create a championship-caliber culture for your remote team.
Communicate your culture.
In the effort to create culture the evolution of the message is important, therefore, documentation is paramount. The resulting document should be clear, concise, and inspire your team and, more importantly, the organization’s leadership. If the people responsible for the final decision don’t believe in what’s written, no one else will. “Having a distributed team means that your culture is going to be more difficult to grasp for new team members, when there is minimal (or no) face time with the team”, writes Miles Burke. He goes to state, “This company culture should be constantly reassessed as you grow or change as well. In order to grow a positive company culture with a remote team, you need to continue to monitor your culture and values, and never stop.”
Encourage open communication and feedback.
In order to have discussions about your team culture, you’ll need to have cultivated an open and judgement-free environment where your employees aren’t scared to express their opinions, respectfully. Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, believes in radical honesty. While it may not work for every situation, it's great for finding the best ideas and it sets a truth-telling precedent. Giving everyone a voice and making sure everyone feels comfortable to share their opinions and ideas means there will be several different viewpoints and opinions to take into account.
Learn about everyone.
People respond when they feel they are a part of the team. As humans, we enjoy and feel closer to the tribe when someone is genuinely interested in who we are and not just what we can do for them. We believe they have our best interest in mind. Get to know your team members. Not only will you create lasting relationships, but you’ll gain valuable insights that may help you serve them better in their work.
Match tools with culture.
A co-located office develops its own personality through inside jokes, shared experiences, and a collaborative environment. A remote team needs to develop something similar. The easiest way to do this is with your day-to-day tools. Try several platforms to find out what works best for your team. This effort will provide evidence of your commitment to find solutions that work for everyone.
In an effective team culture, team members understand where their individual work fits in the overall context of their organization's strategic plan. This means creating a lot of personal accountability and highlighting the connections and dependencies between team members’ work. This can be accomplished with touchpoint meetings. Timely updates and check ins that address timelines and resources will not only move the needle on projects, but show your team how interested you are in their success.
A company isn’t that dissimilar from a sports team. Without collaboration, clear direction, and leadership, the lack of cohesiveness will eventually start to show, and losses will mount, affecting productivity and profits. Social media software company, TINT, used inclusive discussion to rewrite their company culture as a team. Allow your team to build the environment they’re working in. Creating a culture of ownership, collaboration, and open communication will earn the respect of your team.
Above all, be yourself. Be authentic as a business leader and it’ll show your team they can do the same. Authenticity breeds confidence and people who are confident in what they’re doing and feel secure in their environment will cultivate that culture no matter where they’re located.
This article was written by Frederick Rhodes of the byDesign team.