As flexible working arrangements continue into the new year, how do we utilise our leaders to champion our culture and ensure it remains strong during this transition?
It wasn’t so long ago that if there was a business goal to be met, we would look at the behaviour we needed to change to help accelerate its achievement. We would drive very specific behaviours by coaching team members to do very specific things.
So how do we do this remotely? The answer is with your culture.
Why is Culture Important?
Culture is important to organisational success because getting it right drives the right behaviour, consistently. More importantly, culture ensures that everyone is engaged in something more important than the work itself.
It drives discretionary behaviour. Your team members will work harder, deliver higher quality work and give more of themselves because they truly believe in the culture of the organisation they are choosing to work with.
Culture > Behaviour > Outstanding Results
What is Culture?
Culture embodies how we want to operate. It defines values, commitment, priorities, what we are working towards and WHY we are working towards it. When everyone involved within an organisation has bought into its culture (we call this culture alignment), they will understand the behaviours needed to embody that culture and demonstrate them.
How to Share your Culture
Organisational culture is challenged when teams are split and working remotely.
1. The Water Cooler Effect
The water cooler phenomenon occurs when employees (at a physical workplace) gather around the office water cooler and chat.
When WFH, your team may feel like they’re working in a bubble, isolated from the team. Working from home has its benefits, however the loss of controlling the physical setting makes it more difficult to engage and align team members.
To counteract these feelings of isolation, set up daily catch ups via Zoom or Teams and focus on non-work-related topics of conversation. Check in with your team, ask how their morning has been, discuss recent news events, chat about a funny story from the weekend or the latest Netflix shows everyone’s watching.
Checking in on your team in this way shows a genuine care and gives them the opportunity for that small talk that happens throughout the day in the office.
Give each team member the opportunity to be vocal and share how they’re feeling or what they have on for the day. Just because you can’t be physically together, doesn’t mean you can’t keep connected.
In other words, encourage a virtual ‘water-cooler chat’.
2. Clear Communication
As a leader, you want to encourage an environment where everyone contributes, especially when remote working. Clear communication is key to keep your culture alive and your team connected.
To ensure the team comms channels are maintained, set boundaries and clearly identify which channels are used for what type of information. More formal communication might be via email and more casual can be via Teams or Slack. This enables the team’s communication to be clear and consistent, promoting transparency and clarity.
3. Communicate Company Values
Having a strong set of company values is crucial to the success of any organisations culture. You have a unique opportunity now to review your company values and to see how they apply to those working from home.
Your organisational values need to be clearly communicated to the entire team and role modelled by the senior leaders. They need to be documented, which will provide a clear indication for new team members of your culture and how you intend for the whole team to behave.
To effectively grow a positive company culture with a remote team, you need to continue to monitor your culture and values, and consistently share and reiterate it to your team.
Whilst there are many ways to infuse culture with a remote team, as a leader, you need to find what works best for your team and organisation. Culture and team alignment is more important now than ever, especially as we move into a new era of working.
Why do we do what we do? Having a clear purpose in your business is the glue that holds everyone together. It is the foundation of your culture. Your team members buy into this purpose and it should be consistently reiterated through your values and all communication on culture.
Leading with this purpose in mind, means your team maintains a strong connection to the organisation, to the team leaders, to their co-workers, their work and most importantly why they do what they do. The difference that we make every day! This is essential in keeping everyone connected and aligned, keeping that culture alive even if your team is remote.
How do you keep your organisational culture alive for your remote working team members? Share in the comments below!