Building a better business in ten steps

Step 6: Be a better leader; build a strong workplace culture

Step 6 involves working on your leadership skills and building a stronger workplace culture.

Have you ever asked yourself if your workplace is toxic?  The average person spends more than 40,000 hours of their life at work.  That’s one heck of a long time if your work environment is not fun; even worse if it’s toxic.

A toxic workplace generally exhibits some or all of the following characteristics:

  1. A lack of trust between the owners and the team – a sense of ‘us and them’.
  2. No Core Values; or worse – Core Values that aren’t lived into.
  3. After meeting meetings.  Those coffee or desk chats where team members bag the person who lead the meeting that just happened.
  4. Highly stressful interactions are the norm.  As opposed to the exception.
  5. Team members and owners mistreating each other.  Working in self-serving ways instead of for the benefit of the team.  Especially if this is done behind team members’ backs.
  6. No team buy in to the business’s core purpose or goals.  Or a complete absence of purpose and goals.

“Culture Eats strategy for breakfast” – these are the wise words of Peter Drucker.  We simply cannot afford to operate with a toxic workplace.  And, the opportunity cost of not investing in our workplace culture is big.

Take an honest look at your business through these above points, then follow these steps:

  1. Use a collaborative approach to set no more than five Core Values.  Each with a definition.
  2. Define your core purpose.  Why does your business exist for your clients?  Check out Simon Sinek’s video ‘Start With Why’ on YouTube.
  3. Make your purpose and Core Values highly visible.  Ensure each team member has memorised them and hold each other to account for living into them.
  4. Break down your plan into goals and actions for each team member.  The sum of the individual team goals will deliver on your overall plan.
  5. Celebrate success.  Give recognition to team members for great performance.
  6. Meet with your team regularly.  This ensures you support them effectively and address minor issues before resentment builds.
  7. Actively discourage those after meeting meetings.  People should contribute openly at the appropriate time.
  8. Stop playing favourites.  Give equal opportunity for your team members to grow and shine.
  9. Avoid being held to ransom by toxic employees.  Open the ‘door of opportunities’ for them.
  10. Have more fun at work.  Building fun or resilience exercises into the working week helps people refresh and find flow easier when they get back to work.

To quote Henry Ford, in relation to teamwork: “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success”.

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