Learn the rules for creating a positive work culture

  1. Don’t be a jerk. Or be one consistently.*
  2. Don’t hire jerks. Seriously.
  3. Don’t keep jerks on your team.
  4. Don’t have jerks as customers.
  5. Don’t have jerks as suppliers.
  6. Don’t let jerks make your rules.

I am amazed by the gibberish that is out in the world about how to create a positive work culture.

I mean it’s probably all good stuff. Have an offsite. Create core values. Look for positive attitudes when hiring. Make an open-door policy. Engage your employees (BTW, isn’t this what the objective of a positive work culture is?)

The thing is those are all tactics. Tactics are things we do, not why we do things. Culture is why we do things. See the difference?

I get it. No one wants to be the writer who says that if your culture isn’t awesome, it’s because the leader isn’t awesome. Because we try to avoid hurting people’s feelings.

Well, here’s reality — life is a mirror.

If you don’t like what you see around you, the culture of your team or business, know it reflects your behaviors and choices. Do you want a different result? Change your behaviors. The reflection will change.

Yes, it is that easy.

What to do

Culture isn’t a crystal-gazing fluffy thing. It is made up of behaviors that your team regularly demonstrates. It is a gloriously simple, personally achievable, easily accomplished choice. And here are the simplest ways we’ve learned to make yours positive, within 4-5 weeks.

  1. Turn it over to your people
  2. Have them write down the words they want people to say about them
  3. Turn those words into observable behaviors that will result in those words being used
  4. Reward and recognize those behaviors
  5. Call out and discuss violations of the behaviors and how they happened
  6. Ask people who don’t consistently live those behaviors to leave.

I used to think it was a really difficult thing to manage people’s attitudes when I was a young leader. Because I was trying to manage THEIR attitudes which were just a reflection of MY attitude! I mean all that time trying to get “them” to do the right thing. Brutal.

Turns out, when I asked my team what they wanted, it was a highly positive, and more importantly, high-performing, work team. So, they picked behaviors like keeping each other informed, make decisions as a team and execute fast, and have each other’s back always.

Pretty cool. Guess who failed at those behaviors the most often in the first 4 weeks? Yep, the dude in the mirror. That was a painful learning lesson that I was the problem.

The upsides

Here are some upsides of letting your team create your culture (initially – once created your job is to curate it for the long haul).

  1. No team has ever picked lazy serial killers as their objective
  2. All teams want to do good work and earn respect from the business
  3. The team needs less direction and time from the leader for tactics
  4. The team works faster and with more clarity
  5. The team recruits people for themselves rather than management having to find them
  6. Without fail, teams that pick their culture are more positive, productive, and loyal.

Turns out people don’t want to come to work, put in a full day, and at the end of it hope their boss thinks they suck. If given the chance and choice to create an effective, highly functional work culture, they choose to do so.

We’ve gone through this with over 3,700 employees in more than 17 companies and the results are rock-solid repeatable. This process has worked every single time, so far.

If you’re struggling with this, reach out so you can get your culture where you want it. 608-441-5375. Just ask about culture.

At ActionCOACH of Madison, LLC, we’re licensed to provide the premier activation program for employees in the entire world! If you want your employees to be passionately committed to your business so you can spend more time doing what you want to do, call us TODAY at 608-441-7862 or email mikemckay@actioncoach.com and ask about Engage and Grow.

*Oh yeah. It turns out you can be a jerk, if you’re a consistent jerk. Your team will work around you if they know your triggers. It won’t be effective, but they’ll be ok. I know because I led that way for a good long portion of my career. Call us so you can make leadership easier for YOU.