3 Culture Hacks for the Lazy Manager

Get a Better, More Motivated Team Now by Making These Three Quick Changes

I’m a lazy manager. I don’t want to spend more time than I have to doing anything, let alone creating process. Hey — I’ve got a life.

That’s why I love culture-setting. Culture helps highlight and set team priorities and acts as a guardrail when things go awry with a minimum of ad hoc effort.

Get your team culture right, and you can cut out politics and keep everyone focused on the work.

Here are three easy wins I’ve found that any manager can implement today to improve team culture instantly, and get the results they need without the hassle.

Kill Gossip

My husband has been on a few world-class ultimate frisbee teams. He always tells the story of a battle between some team members that almost erupted into all-out war.

It stopped when the team leader stepped in and said “the minute you start thinking of ‘us versus them’ on this team, you should cut yourself. Interpret that liberally.”

This guy was well-known to be a ball-buster, but sometimes, that’s what it takes.

Gossip creates an “in” group and an “out” group. When your team members have to think about petty crap like what’s being said behind their backs, you lose as a boss. They have less time to get shit done. People start dreading coming to work. Your company slows down.

Luckily, gossip fiends are usually easy to stop. Make gossip a fireable offense, and watch your team work together more smoothly.

Encourage Direct Feedback

I once went on an extended trip to China. I was 15 hours ahead of my team, and I had left them with what I considered minimal extra responsibilities.

One team member had a lot of trouble figuring out what to do, and an even worse time getting in touch with me. When I got back, she was furious.

So we sat down to lunch. I explained that I understood where she was coming from, but it was hard communicating through a 15-hour time lag.

“That’s pathetic,” she blurted. POW! I didn’t love the way she’d said it, and we later had a talk about diplomacy. But I had to admit — message received.

The next time I went to Asia, I put in a structured communications strategy with very clear lines of approval. This made the entire team happier, and made it easier for them to maintain focus while I was out.

The important thing to remember (and to coach your team to remember) is that your team doesn’t work for you — they work with you. Giving your team members a forum for direct feedback will help you all improve together.

3x Rule

Team members fight. Especially in startups, you’re together 24/7. Friction happens.

Before someone comes to you to complain about another team member, ask that they try three times to try to resolve the conflict themselves. A surprising number of intra-team issues get better on their own with time. The 3x rule prevents you from getting involved too early.

Three Little Hacks

Call these what you want — culture hacks, management tips, whatever. The point is that they work.

Creating a culture that’s fair and transparent is the first step to leading an engaged, motivated workforce — and saving yourself a heck of a lot of time.

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