15 WAYS TO BUILD A GREAT TEAM CULTURE
Rachel Klaver passes on lessons learnt while building a team from scratch.
The learning curves business owners go through can feel like a permanent roller-coaster.
For those of us growing businesses, there’s a plethora of decisions and choices to make.
One of the biggest decisions is in whether to grow your team, build a culture, and maximise the investment made every payday in people who are the face of your business.
In my third year at Identify Marketing, in some ways we’re still infants at developing a team and culture. But often we learn the most in the early days; we certainly have!
My business initially accumulated a team almost by accident, with unexpected growth and massive holes in what I could personally do for my clients. Accidental team growth comes with challenges – I was not confident in offering full-time roles. I was a lean business with no office, and I wasn’t sure where the business was heading or how fast.
In the past six months, with steady clients and a proper office, it’s become easy to say, “We need someone full-time” and offer salaried roles. But it’s also been a tricky transition from a team of contractors to a team of staff.
The learning curve has been huge, especially around ensuring our culture is maintained, and newcomers are on boarded. Great team dynamics are hard won but deliver exceptional results, drop time wastage, and provide the best solution for your clients.
As a marketing agency, we will often look at team culture in
a business, because if a business is not growing effectively, often marketing isn’t the first thing to fix. Often it comes down to altering team culture first. Here’re some learnings around building a positive team culture, developing a positive working environment, and getting the best from your team: 1. KNOW YOUR OWN VALUES – THESE WILL SHAPE YOUR BUSINESS. As the business owner, your ethics and values will always be reflected in your business culture. I most enjoy working with people who can ‘Google first’ and work independently. I recently worked with a business owner who has a staff of 30 and values tidiness over independence. Her work environment is immaculate, but her team are like baby birds – too scared to fly by themselves. It’s become unmanageable and we’re now trying to change the culture. 2. CONSIDER USING PSYCHOMETRIC TESTING TO FIGURE OUT HOW BEST TO WORK WITH THEM. We use the Myers Briggs [test]. It can give huge insight into how people process or act in different ways, and how best to disperse information and run your team. No test should override what someone is saying to you directly, however. But it can help reveal whether someone wants to be instructed in person or with emailed bullet points. 3. REMEMBER YOUR TEAM CAN’T READ YOUR MIND. In a fast-growing business, change happens fast. Bring your team along with you – if you don’t they’ll feel left out and become disillusioned. I’ve lost people due to the fact I do most of my thinking alone; then present the solution and make it happen, often without bringing everyone up to speed. I’m learning to make sure everyone is on the same page before we get to the next chapter. 4. HIRE PEOPLE WHO GOOGLE FIRST, CHECK LATER. This sounds rather basic – but you need people who can ask Google for the answer before checking in with you (unless they are a brain surgeon). 5. TAKE TIME TO ONBOARD. Onboarding is not just getting some pretty stationery, a laptop and reading through all the health and safety regulations. Invest time into your new team member as this is how we create culture stability. If they are a leader, invest twice as much time – teach them and model what you want. Then when they are flying, get them to replicate it to others. 6. MISTAKES ARE JUST LEARNING EXERCISES. When giving a task for the first time, get them to attempt it first alone, to work out their base line. Then correct. Teach right from the beginning that there is no shame in mistakes – as long as you learn from them! 7. BE THE ADULT. You lead the team. The weight is on your shoulders. Model the behaviours you want, and don’t expect them to adhere to anything you wouldn’t do yourself. 8. HAVE REGULAR MEETINGS (THAT ARE PURPOSEFUL). Hold ten minute stand-up team meetings every morning to check what everyone is doing. Then hold weekly one-on-ones with leadership to check in, set goals, and sort out niggles before they become mountains. 9. AVOID TIME-WASTING MEETINGS. Feel free to invite someone for half a meeting; then let them get back to work. Factor in how much each meeting is costing you for every hour you have your team in it – it will turn you off wasting time. Each meeting must have a time frame, agenda, and ‘next steps’ at the end. 10. INVOLVE THEM IN THE BIG PICTURE. Be open about sales targets and growth targets, and celebrate as a team when they’re met. We have implemented team and individual goals using 4Dx (Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney) around weekly measurable tasks we record in our weekly meetings. It creates accountability and focus during the week 11. GROW PEOPLE INTO THEIR NATURAL SKILLS. Sometimes people fit better into a new role in the business. Focus on growing the parts they love to do, or are highly competent in. We aim for a 70/30 split – because most of us must sometimes do jobs we don’t particularly enjoy. 12. IF YOU’VE MADE A MISTAKE, MOVE THEM. It’s better to ‘wear’ the cost of extra spend (higher salary) and move a person to a role that’s better suited (but worth less) than keep someone in a role that’s wrong for them. 13. TRUST THAT CULTURE WILL PRUNE AND GROW YOUR TEAM. Besides making sure you utilise the 90 days, and focus on making sure new team members really get the culture during this time so they can choose to opt in or out (as you can), trust that long term a welldefined culture will attract the right people and repel the wrong ones. It just happens. 14. BE AWARE THAT SOME PEOPLE WILL NEED MORE SUPPORT. You can’t treat each member the same. Some personality types need more feedback, and some people are at an early stage in their career. This is great, however, as these people are often more malleable in terms of being shaped by your culture. 15. REWARD HOW PEOPLE WANT TO BE REWARDED. Everyone is slightly different. One of my team members loves little gifts. Another really likes it when I sit down with her and look over her work. I’ve learned it’s important to her. Ask each individual what makes them feel good, and do it.
I firmly believe team culture can become one of your biggest marketing tools. Your team is your most powerful asset, and deserve your time and energy to be nurtured, challenged and grown. Attracting growth after that will feel very simple indeed!