Training, Accountability, and Flexibility In the Workplace

Hey! Do this! You know the thing I’m pointing at!

Last week I covered how to create a positive work culture through strengthening employee collaboration and engagement. While creating a company culture is complicated, increasing collaboration and engagement is something that doesn’t need to be over complicated in order to implement successfully. BUT you do need to plan and train accordingly.

While I covered multiple ways to enable a more collaborative environment and engaged employees, there are a few aspects of implementation I want to take a deeper look into. These are building the plan itself, team training, accountability, and flexibility.

Planning always helps

Part 1: Plan

The first part is actually building the plan that will lead you to implement a positive culture successfully. It is never too early to start planning how you are going to implement and grow your company culture. Culture will have a massive effect on employee satisfaction and retention, as well as recruiting new team members. As the diagram from Salesforce below illustrates, company culture will influence each part of the employee journey.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, 78% of companies have a documented employee engagement strategy and nearly 50% measure success. This stage is incredibly important as it sets the foundation for the company culture. There is no right or wrong way to build the plan, but below are some examples on how to do this effectively.

This Forbes article illustrates out to implement a GAME plan, which accounts for these phases — Growth, Appreciation, Measurement, and Engagement. After implementation, they found some interesting outcomes. They measured increased employee performance and morale, as well as a higher employee retention rate and decreased time filling open positions.

No plan, or culture, is one size fits all. I’d recommend taking a look at the dozens of company cultures to emulate and avoid that are written about in this article by Emplify. At a minimum, your plan should account for a mission statement, company values, culture roadmap, success measurements or guidelines, and the process to which you are tracking, reviewing, and making changes to the implementation of everything. Now with a plan in place, it is important to actually make it known.

With 51% of employees saying that either their organization had no collaboration strategy, or that they were unsure if their organization did, this next step cannot be overlooked as part of the process for changing company culture for the better.

Spell it out for everyone

Part 2: Train

According to Queens University, only 27% of employees get communication training, and roughly the same amount are confident in their communication role at work. This number is shockingly low when compared to the 75% of employers that rate teamwork, communication, and collaboration as “very important” to the workplace.

There are a number of ways to implement additional communication and collaboration training in the workplace. Some simple Google searches will result in dozens of methods but it’s often easiest to keep it simple. Beyond having sessions that outline the company culture plan, carve out additional time for running through best practices and have activities that enforce the mission statement and core values of the company.

In the past, we’ve gone beyond role-playing sessions for the sales team, and added in mini-boot camps, inter-team breakout sessions (w/ product/implementation teams as well), and lunch and learn sessions more geared towards soft skills that are beneficial for everyone to develop.

Feedback loops are important

Part 3: Accountability

We’re skipping over the process of measuring what success looks like and going straight into accountability because this is often where teams and managers fall off. Not too different than a coach giving preferential treatment to a star player and ignoring the role players, the whole team needs to participate in the company culture. Real-time feedback, performance reviews, and positive reinforcement related to team culture are an important part of the process.

Unfortunately, the Harvard Business Review found that up to 35% of value-added collaborations typically come from only 3% to 5% of employees. They also found that 20% of organizational “stars” don’t contribute to the success of their colleagues after they have hit their own numbers and earned kudos for it.

Managers need to be aware of this because this can cause fragmentation within teams. As much as we tend to let top performers “do their own thing”, their engagement with the rest of the team will likely lead to weaker performers learning more and performing better over time. As we increasingly become a learning workforce, we’ll need to take advantage of internal strengths and opportunities for knowledge share. Not only this, but Google and Raconteur found that 88% of employees agree that a culture of knowledge-sharing correlates to high employee morale and job satisfaction. Every team member needs to be a contributor in order for the company culture to flourish.

Part 4: Flexibility

Teams are becoming more fluid as distributed teams become standard, the freelance economy grows, and team dynamics become more flexible. While one might think this could negatively impact collaboration, communication, and company culture, it might actually have the opposite effect.

According to a 2009 survey by Cisco of thousands of employees, 69 percent said their productivity was higher when they worked remotely and 83 percent said their communication with other team members was either unaffected or enhanced by being dispersed.

Not only were the employee's communication and engagement unaffected (or positively affected) by the distributed teams, but they also performed better. Research by Frank Siebdrat assessed the performance of 80 global software companies and found that more dispersed teams more often outperformed “co-located” teams.

This feeling is generally a commonly held belief. Google & Raconteur found that 73% of employees believe their organization would be more successful if employees were able to work in more flexible and collaborative ways.

As you progress through creating, implementing and refining your company’s culture, you need to understand that flexibility is absolutely key. Employees are happier when they are working how and where they enjoy working. This leads to more productive teams, but also stronger employee engagement and retention in the long run. Keep this in mind during the planning, implementation, and accountability phases — all employees work, learn, and communicate differently and the company culture should be flexible enough to accommodate everyone successfully.

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