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
Published on October 8, 2019
How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)
The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.
The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.
By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…
1. Define What Success Is for You
There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.
Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.
2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan
Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.
Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.
3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You
It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.
By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.
4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)
A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.
One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.
5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings
You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.
Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.
6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party
If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?
Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!
7. Pick Up Some New Skills
Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.
By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.
8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal
Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!
If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.
9. Make Yourself Indispensable
Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?
It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?
10. Get Off the Fence
People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.
If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.
11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It
If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.
Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.
12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want
If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.
Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.
13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It
Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.
Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.
14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely
Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.
A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.
15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing
The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.
Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.
16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself
Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.
Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.
17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It
It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.
Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.
18. Join a Professional Organization
The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.
Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.
More About Career Advancement
- Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?
- What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career
- 11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities
Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com