Driving the culture of your team

Karen Gately

Karen Gately is the author of 'The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people'. A highly regarded leadership and people-management specialist, Karen is the founder of Ryan Gately, an HR consulting and Leadership development practice. For more information, visit www.karengately.com.au or contact info@karengately.com.au

Often described as the personality of a business, culture is simply the way things are typically done. Created from the collective behaviours of people in a given setting or group, culture is not about the way things should be in theory but about the way they are in practice. The decisions made, the priorities set, the actions taken — all provide insight into the culture of a team or business.

Here are seven key priorities underpin your ability to drive the culture you want in your team:

1. Leadership

Leading by example is a non- negotiable first step. It is every leader’s responsibility to show case the behaviours you want and expect from others. No-one should be appointed to a leadership role unless they operate in ways consistent with the culture you want to create.

2. Define Cultural Aspirations

Like anything you want to achieve, a clear vision of where you want to go is crucial to enabling you determine the best path to take you there. It isn’t enough (for example) to simply say you want a high performance culture – you need to clearly articulate what high performance means in your team.

3. Define Enabling Behaviours

Identify desirable behaviours that reflect the culture you are aspiring to create. Every member of your team needs to understand how to behave in a way that is considered not only acceptable but successful.

4. Set Clear Expectations

Once you establish a clear view of how you want people to behave, you need to tell them. Setting clear expectations enables you to hold people accountable to appropriate behaviour. While there is some value in whole of team communications, you need to engage one-to-one with each member of your team to ensure they understand what is expected of them.

5. Make It Matter

One of the biggest mistakes I observe leaders to make is failing to assess behaviour or apply consequences. Unless the way people behave truly matters, it’s unlikely you will create the culture you want. Consequences mean rewarding and recognizing desirable behaviours and taking correction when needed.

6. Recruit for Fit

Hire people aligned with your values and behaviours. Look for evidence of the approach they are likely to take. While outcomes matter the way people going about their role and working with the rest of your team is critical.

7. Be Consistent

Send consistent messages about what is expected, accepted and ultimately successful when it comes to behaviour. From one person to the next and over time you need to consistently reinforce behavioural expectations.

Tags: leadership strategy

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