Earlier this month, something came to my attention which prompted me to send the below email to the team…
“This week it has been very obvious that a lot of the gang have been out of the office/on holiday…. It was very quiet, yet the thing that struck me most this week was not the office ‘noise levels’ (or lack thereof,) but how selfless we are as a group.
It’s no secret that we have to GET SHIT DONE and so when one of the team is off sunning themselves on a beach somewhere stuff needs to be covered. What strikes me is that rather than being resentful of someone else’s tan we step in and take on what needs to be done — and we do it with pride.
I’m so proud of the fact that we work as a team and are happy to go through a little personal discomfort for the person sitting next to us.”
We’re very open about the importance culture has on everything we do, but where does this particular behaviour come from? Why do we think it’s so important, and why is it something we’re so proud of? Let’s delve a little deeper.
The passion began when a good friend of mine, Robert Gardner, introduced me to Super Teams by Khoi Tu. It’s an inspiring look into a number of examples of good teamwork in all aspects of life, spanning from the Royal Marines to Europe’s Ryder Cup winning team. Those two examples are a testament to the importance of fostering a positive teamwork environment yet I fear that in the workplace their sentiment is lost. The concept of working as a team is quickly becoming something that companies set aside ‘team building’ days for — rather than cementing it into their fundamental, day-to-day existence. It’s perceived as something extra, as an add-on we’d all like to be better at but never make time for. To us, there are a number of clear advantages to having a workforce who care about each other and the team as a whole.
Simon Sinek talks about Oxytocin, the happy hormone, which gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling — you know the one you feel after doing a good deed for a neighbour. Interaction with others is fundamentally important in initiating it’s release, so the closer we work with one another, the more warm and fuzzies we feel, and that definitely isn’t a bad thing!
Furthermore, I’m not particularly interested in building a business for today. My mind is always on tomorrow. We want to build a business for the future and in that, our focus is on strengthening our ability to take the good and the bad in our strides, thus ensuring we’re a truly robust business. If we’re all in it together, the hard times become easier and the good times become better.
Understanding the importance of a strong company culture is one thing, but to actually create and maintain it during periods of growth is another entirely.
Deep rooted, genuine belief is always our starting point. It comes in all shapes and sizes and is expressed in a variety of different ways, but ultimately if it’s real, its enough. As a leader, if I don’t believe in what I’m doing then how could I ever expect my team to? Thus begins the circle of doubt, resulting in a team that doesn’t believe in the people who lead them, let alone the people sitting to their left or right. An environment like that breeds lone wolves who don’t communicate with each other or operate seamlessly as a unit, which at the end of the day could not be more toxic for a company’s culture. Do what you can to ensure that leadership believe and understand what they are communicating and that in turn will encourage the team to feel the same. When people are connected through common visions and beliefs, working together to achieve the the collective goal comes naturally.
The second vitally important element is action. To preach about teamwork and selflessness is great, but the most effective way to communicate an idea is to actually exhibit those characteristics yourself. I continually find myself asking the question, “who does this benefit?” before doing anything and if the answer is just me, then I’m probably not behaving in a way that puts the team around me first.
So be it stepping away from an important task to assist a team member with a client issue, or spending an afternoon building new office chairs, (YES, we build our own chairs) there are innumerable daily opportunities to selflessly just help people. Jump at every chance you get to be there for others and if you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, you’ll find they do exactly that for each other too.