When we talk with business leaders about building the ideal organization, two phrases come to mind: High Morale and Employee Engagement. Business leaders envision a team of people who enjoy their work, are motivated to work hard, are willing to think creatively about the best ways to deliver great products and services to their customers, and are willing to make it happen.
Though challenging to build such an organization, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. A company culture with high morale and employee engagement will consistently enable you to outperform your competitors.
So how exactly do you create that culture? Some clients even wonder if they should hold more Friday afternoon parties, company picnics, or other events. That way, team members will have many opportunities to get to know each other in more informal ways. Our response: have your parties if you want. They may be fun, but on their own they won’t create a high morale culture.
The healthiest teams – highly effective with high morale – are the ones who work in a high trust environment. When you focus on building trust, then you will build a healthier working environment with higher morale and engagement. Focus on the following four ways to build a strong culture:
- Trust. Work on the level of trust among the members of the leadership team. The more your senior leaders trust and respect each other, the more other team members will learn the same behaviors. Get the relationships right at the top, and it will be much easier for others in the organization to do the same.
- The Right Seats. Keep it simple — ensure that you have the right seats on the leadership team, clarify roles and responsibilities for each, and then ask if you have the right people in those seats. Each person must truly get his or her job (understand the role), want it (have a passion for the work), and have the capacity to do it (both the skill and time to do the work effectively). If you can say “Yes” to each of these, you have the right person in that seat. If you cannot, you must address it so that you can get to “Yes”.
- Accountability. Once everyone is ‘in the right seats,’ you can focus on accountability (meeting your commitments to each other) and work on addressing the toughest issues (challenges and opportunities) in your business. It’s critical to promote open and honest dialog, and have the courage to tackle problems and go after opportunities immediately. It’s a mistake to bury them and hope they will take care of themselves. (For more about the best way to do this, see the steps described in the book Traction, by Gino Wickman, the creator of the Entrepreneurial Operating System.)
- Communication. You must communicate openly with each other, collaborate wherever you can, and celebrate your successes.
All of these behaviors will contribute to an environment of trust among the members of your leadership team. Building that trust culture at the top is the most effective way to set the tone and model the behaviors that will create a team with high morale and a high level of engagement.