What’s your company’s culture? Are your people and departments fragmented into silos? Do they have an internal “us vs. them” mentality? When things go wrong, are blame and overreaction common responses? Or, are you working together toward a shared mission and common goals? Do you enjoy a “we” culture regardless of job or department? When a problem arises, do your people pull together to correct it?
Your employees’ responses when something goes awry say a great deal about your company’s organizational health and culture. Businesses filled with people who do what’s best for the company are far more pleasant and productive than organizations where decisions are based on an individual’s or department’s best interest.
Preventing tribalism and promoting cohesion and unity among all parts of your business is imperative to long term success. Whether your people are divided into departments such as retail, landscape, floral, container design or any other aspect of your business, a strong company spirit should be one of your primary goals and stated expectations. The following are suggestions for enhancing your company’s unity.
1. Keep your mission and vision first and foremost. Despite their differences, people pull together most easily when the vision and mission of their organization is kept front and center. When setting directives and motivating your team, regularly remind them of the why of your business. The why is what they work so hard to achieve and the reason they are willing to sacrifice individually and departmentally.
2. Promote a team spirit. Your business, departments and employees win and lose together. You are teammates, not competitors or enemies. If you want a cohesive company, you must refrain from pitting employees and departments against one another. Ask employees and departments to work together to create solutions and new processes.
3. Try some relatively inexpensive fun things like bringing in an ice cream or a taco truck for an hour and allowing everyone to mingle. Select a relevant charity that your people can work together to support. Get your fun-minded employees to make suggestions and help build your esprit de corps.
4. Actively reward team players. What gets rewarded, gets repeated. If you want a “we” culture, publicly recognize and reward employees and departments that work together to solve problems and move your business forward.
5. Increase trust. Trust is enhanced when people treat each other respectfully despite problems, difficulties and differences. Trust is also built when the truth is told and the channels of communication stay open. Lastly, trust is enhanced when people know each other personally.
6. Encourage informal gatherings in and out of the workplace, have routinely scheduled but brief meetings, and involve small, rotating teams in problem solving and visionary work.
7. Enhance communication on all levels. Get teams, and when possible, the entire company together to share good and bad news. Interact with your employees when things are going well, not just when you’re giving out new duties or talking about problems. When in doubt, over-communicate.
8. Hire carefully. Just as “One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel,” it is far easier to make a good hire than to clean up after a bad one. When interviewing, ask probing questions and pay attention throughout in order to determine if applicants are team players or interested in looking out for themselves. It’s better to operate shorthanded than to hire someone willing to disparage a former employer or colleague.
You’ll never go wrong focusing on creating strong relationships and a “we” culture. Retention and productivity will follow. After all, who wouldn’t want to work for a such a great boss and company?