I had the privilege recently to speak at the 2015 Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference and met amazing leaders from around the world – all of them from the retail industry. I was speaking on the topic, “Team Building Meets Customer Service.” The bottom line being that any organization’s level of service and ultimately their success, is directly tied to the culture of the company.
Culture is defined as the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institution or organization. It picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. In fact, culture guides discretionary behavior, and tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room – which is most of the time.
And just to give you some context as to why culture matters, studies have shown that the way people feel about their work environment and the culture of an organization can account for nearly 30% of business performance.
This is the fourth and final installment in my series on strategies to help build a stronger, more sustainable culture in your organization. Check here first if you missed the first installment, second installment or third installment.
4. Challenge each other to be GREAT
We need to challenge each other to be great, to go beyond what we think possible for ourselves and our companies.
Why? Because all too often today we see too many people settling for mediocrity rather than greatness, going through the motions, doing just enough to get by. But that is not going to propel your organization to the levels you want or need to sustain long-term success.
No one wants to admit they are only achieving mediocrity. It's in hindsight that the realization is apparent and only after we have reached a level of greatness. I was discussing this topic with a client, and she shared her experience about culture and challenging one another to be great:
"When I first joined cross country, despite a few high-performing runners we never made it to state as a team. I went to a small school, and we had settled with mediocrity. The following year, we got a new coach who was enthusiastic and had high goals of greatness. He shared his goals and we laughed at him. 'How were we going to do advance to state as a team?' we thought. But that season we trained harder than we knew we were capable, and he focused on strengthening our team's culture. Something amazing happened that year... we became GREAT. We met our goals, we became a stronger team, and a winning team was born. Our cross country team became the highest performing sport at our school... so much so that parents without children in the sport would cheer us on at the state meet. (And really, how many people like to watch someone run for 20 minutes?) Plus, our team had a strong culture that was envied by every other team at school. Even if we weren't all friends, we were unified. Many years henceforth, the team has won national cross country titles, runners have gone on to set collegiate records, and one runner is currently training for the Olympics. We had no idea we were mediocre until someone revealed to us with better training, a strengthened culture, and the right leader, we could be great."
No job is too small or too unimportant. We need to foster a culture that supports each other's success, and doesn't accept mediocrity in ourselves or in others. We need to push each other to be better than we believe possible.
"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." - Michelangelo
So there it is. Four simple (but not necessarily easy) steps to help you develop a strong culture that supports success at every level of the organization. Using these tools will lead to greater levels of engagement and productivity, and ultimately a deeper sense of belonging and pride in the company and the work we do every day.
Think about what might happen if everyone in your organization came to work with the idea that no matter what department they're in, no matter what job they have, or what role they play in the organization - if they begin and end with the idea that their only reason for showing up is to support each other's successes and push each other to be better in every way. Now that is something that can create the kind of success your competition can only dream of.
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Kevin Ciccotti, Human Factor Formula
Helping companies create sustainable, effective teams that are committed to the success of their projects, the organization, and the individuals with whom they work