Cultures are not built, they are created.
Reread that quote. A culture, whether it be something as large as your entire organization, or as small as your team, is a complex whole that is created organically through the manifestation and implementation of consistent behaviors, actions, and practices. When a new person joins an already established work culture, they can read the employee manual to get a sense of what the team is about, but what really resonates are the actions of their team members in their daily tasks.
Regardless of the industry you are in, the foundations for creating a great culture within your organization and team are always the same. Through these behaviors and actions, we can set the base for a great culture to emerge.Advertising
Who do we want to be?
In the case of a startup company, the founding members have the best purview of who they want to be and where they want to go. If you are starting a new team or taking over an existing one, you need to first take a step back and determine who you want to be, what will define you and your team, and what you see as the implementation of your guiding principles to achieve that goal. In its simplest form, this can be a set of tenets laid out on everyone’s desk that drive people’s actions, or a few keywords that reinforce those values. Whichever form it takes, remember that it must be clear. If you can’t articulate it in 30 seconds, how do you expect someone to understand it and follow it?
If people are constantly asking for clarification, then you need to clean it up and simplify it.
In any team, there will always be failures and successes – whether it be for the team itself or an individual who made a mistake. A cornerstone of any great team culture is to ensure that when failures happen, they are treated the same as successes – what did we do wrong, how can we learn from this, what do we do next – those are the approaches to failure that breed trust within a team.Advertising
If every failure is harped upon and made an example of, then you’ll never get to see the benefits of empowerment, determination, and passion that shine through in those toughest moments. It must be emphasized that in these scenarios, trust goes both ways – just as you need to trust those on your team when they fail, you too should be trusted by your team when you fail and make mistakes.
It’s not always easy, but when that commitment to knowing that everyone is working towards the same goal and possibly stumbling along the way to get there, the commitment to achieve is further emboldened.
From knowing who we are and trusting one another, a sense of empathy starts to emerge where we know the success of the team is not tied to individual performance, but instead to that of the team. When this is understood, as a team, we work harder to listen more and talk less, understand someone’s weaknesses and identify where we can help, and give respect to those around us. New team members often bear the brunt when a lack of empathy is in place with words such as, “I’ve already explained it enough times, what’s taking so long to understand it?” when really what should be said is, “what can I do to help you wrap your head around this or understand what to do next?”.Advertising
Empathy as a part of culture forges the bonds for our final piece of building a great culture. Empathy really comes into play in our feedback channels to one another. A great team culture needs to have a proper feedback mechanism in place where team members feel open to receiving critical feedback on their performance. Providing it at the same time and knowing the feedback given and received is for the benefit of the team and not hidden agendas.
Capacity for Growth
A good culture works on what you are doing today, grinding through tasks, checking off boxes, while looking like superstars. A great team looks to the future, what is coming down the pipe next, what should be thought about, what factors are going to affect us, and how we hit that challenge coming down the road. When a team is built for the capacity of growth, they are not looking for quick wins and pyrrhic victories, instead, they are focused on long-term growth, development, and sustainability. It’s when all the other elements to a great culture are in place that we can truly consider the capacity for growth. When a project goes badly based on a new approach, the team doesn’t assign blame, they learn from the mistake and move forward, not returning to the status quo, while staying committed to growing and trying something new.
While looking at each piece of a team culture, one might assume that you could have three pieces of a foundation and skip the one that doesn’t affect you today. But this would be a failure as all pieces must work together in unison, bound by an unflinching desire to create something that can withstand the good times as well as the bad without the team feeling the effects one way over the other.Advertising
You can’t build a culture, but you can create one.
Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com
Last Updated on August 20, 2019
How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work
Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.
You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.
Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,
“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”
It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.
Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star
As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.
As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.
Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.
Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:
1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups
When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”
Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.
2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills
Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.
But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.
If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.
Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home
3. Go to All Office Networking Events
Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.
If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.
Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company
Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.
The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.
Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:
4. Show Initiative
Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.
Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.
Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.
5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors
Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.
Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.
6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn
A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.
Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.
Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities
A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.
Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.
Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?
These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.
Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:
7. Find a Mentor
With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.
Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.
Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.
Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.
8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart
After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.
What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.
Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.
Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.
You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.
9. Set Your Professional Bar High
Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.
Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.
Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.
Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.
The Bottom Line
Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,
“Half of life is showing up.”
The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.
Remember, your career is your business!
More About Continuous Growth
- 30 Amazing Tips To Make Your Personal Growth 10 Times Faster
- 10 Reasons Personal Growth Is Important No Matter How Old You Are
- 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself
- 5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement
Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com