Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Transform Your Company Culture From “I” to “We”

This post was originally published on the Desk.com blog.
Most leaders today believe in a “we” culture. They have read the books on building teams and work to implement the advice. Then they are stymied when the teamwork doesn’t happen or falls apart.

Take these additional steps to turn your company culture from “I” to “We.”

#1 Address the high performing loners.
Do you have individual team members that work well with the customers yet not with teammates? They see the work only as one-to-one between them and the customer.

Do you protect and retain these team members because they are good with customers? This reinforces an “I” culture. Lone rangers don’t share knowledge nor help other teammates. Admit to yourself that they are not the shining stars of company culture.

Tip: Speak with them. Ask them what if anything is getting in the way yet let them know that teamwork is essential.

• Do you have metrics in place that actually discourage collaboration and teamwork? Are you grading team members on their own metrics instead of the overall success of the organization?

A heavy focus on individual metrics undoes a “we” culture. Instead, inspire the team to own the customers requests. Above all, remember that metrics don’t create great service. They measure great service that the team creates!

• Are there squabbles between team members that you’ve overlooked? The “loner” may be isolating because team interactions have gone bad. When you tell team members to work things out for themselves, you are feeding an “I” culture.

Tip: Know what’s going on. Before resentments builds, engage team members in discussions to resolve issues. If you overlook team problems, success overlooks your team.

#2: Assert that great attitude is essential and non-negotiable.
Employees with bad customer service attitudes are toxic to a “we” culture. The one question I am repeatedly asked is: “How long do we coach an employee with a bad attitude?” The answer is: Never.

A positive service attitude is the foundation of outstanding customer service. A great customer service attitude is essential — not negotiable.

Can you imagine saying to a customer: “I’m having trouble in my life right now and that’s why I’m giving you bad service.” Well if you retain an employee with a bad attitude, then that’s what you’re saying. It also sends an “I” culture message to the teams as you shower extra attention on this team member.
“We” culture message: We buoy each other with great attitudes and skills to deliver outstanding service.

Tip: If someone is having difficulty in their personal life, ask them what resources do they have or need to work through it. Meanwhile make it clear that they must bring a great work attitude to work every day.

#3: Inspire individual talents to team success.
Forget the old adage there is no “I” in team. It was an attempt to handle arrogant non-team players with one broad brush. Replace it with: There are many I’s that create a team – individual talents, initiative, integrity, interdependence, and inspiration.

Give recognition of individual talents in team meetings WITH a call to use those talents for team success. This inspires individuals to contribute their talents to each other.

There is very little to stop you from creating a “we” culture if your actions and the organization’s policies support true teamwork. Inspire and model how to be a buoy in a “we” culture of service excellence. Ask the team for suggestions on how to strengthen the company culture. Involve them and they will build a “we” culture of teamwork!