You’re an entrepreneur and you have a dream to build a strong, profitable business that supports not only your lifestyle, but the aspirations and goals of your incredible team-to-be. As a solopreneur or founder building your empire alongside your co-founder, it’s easy to buy into your values, mission and culture – after all, you are the culture! Afternoon drinks on a Tuesday? Hell yes. Midnight burner on a Wednesday night? Gotta push through to secure that deal. Coffee catch-up at a farmer’s market? Why not? With that culture you’re sure to build a collective of A-team players who are as invested in your brand as they are in delivering exceptional work to your customers.
But here’s the thing: as your business grows, so too does the web of complexity; and the further apart you and your people grow from the very culture your business was built on.
So, how do you keep your team motivated to continue to reach for success and stay in-sync with your mission and purpose? How do you ensure they’re all on the same page? And what can you do to ensure your team is working towards one common goal, especially in a world where remote work and hybrid office models are becoming ever more popular, dispersing the team and their methods of staying connected?
A strong team culture that not only nurtures incredible talent, but puts them in the driving seat of your business growth, is the answer. This is something we learnt from leadership and team development experts, Credo Growth.
Team culture and clear messaging underpins the successful alignment between the humans behind a brand and the brand itself. That sounds great and all, but where do you even begin when it comes to mapping out and articulating a team culture focused on productivity and employee empowerment, that attracts star talent and holds on to them?
What better way to get everyone on the same page and motivated to shout your name to the hills than what we call a Culture Deck: a guide to help you reach A-team players and hold onto them.
What is a Culture Deck?
A Culture Deck is a tailored culture guide that aims to get your team on the same page and aligned to a common goal. It outlines everything you stand for, like your values and mission, and exactly what your team needs to do to achieve your goals and service your clients. Your Culture Deck is a document that everyone in your team can access at any time for a refresher on your values, ways of working, success stories and any policies your company regularly refers to. Typically this would be the result of work done on your team development – while we don’t tackle this area of team culture, we can point you in the direction of those who do.
In short, your Culture Deck will help you to build a rock-solid foundation to support your team, boost morale, and get clear on your purpose as a team.
Why your business needs a Culture Deck
According to a Forbes article on how to build a strong team culture, written by an entrepreneur, the first step to building a strong team culture that fosters collaboration and communication is to define your team culture, and make sure everyone understands what your team stands for.
You should prioritise looking after your #1 asset, your A-team players, no matter if you’re a start up living out the Hollywood table-tennis-cum-office story, or an expanding corporation with more corner offices than a law series on Netflix (and all the challenges that come with them). A Culture Deck can help you to support your team as they deliver on your brand promise to your clients, as well as maintain a motivating working environment.
If you’re an entrepreneur, people manager, or leader in a corporate, you’ve likely faced a few or all of these challenges:
1 | Scaling fast and losing your culture
2 | High turnover of staff
3 | Struggling to identify a purpose
4 | Misalignment to your brand values and mission statement
5 | Experiencing a rebrand or buyout
6 | Value your people and culture but need guidance
7 | Need to increase perceived value of products or services
Something piqued my interest in a client workshop that got me thinking about how important a strong team culture is, and how companies in the growth phase ought to take notice of the shifting energy that expansion could bring to their teams.
The CEO we met with, who had just undergone our Become DAPPER process to elevate his voice as a thought leader in their industry, stressed the importance of talent as part of the company’s scaling-up strategy. He unpacked the why, being that strong A-team players who take ownership of their role and feel empowered to innovate and challenge the status quo will build his business far better than any injection of capital and investment could. And that was coming from the CEO of a finance company.
It shows that, once you have a place where your team culture is articulated, you could use it as part of your recruitment strategy and interview process, to guide you as you build your dream team.
The Culture Deck Framework
At DAPPER, we work with entrepreneurs, leaders, C-suite executives and people-focused professionals to create synergy between personal brands and business culture. Our Culture Deck is the fastest way to do this (alongside our flagship Become DAPPER process focused on individuals) and we’ll work with you to unpack the Culture Deck framework. Let’s take a closer look at the process of creating an engaging team culture in the workplace.
The Why behind what you do
The first step to create synergy between your team and your company is to be clear on your purpose and brand story. This will answer the questions ‘Why do we do what we do?’,‘What is the purpose of the team?’ and ‘What does success look like?’
It is an essential step in the foundation of your team building strategy to ensure everyone who fills the seats on your bus knows where you’re going and the reason you’re going there. It’s also important that everyone understands how the role each team member plays adds value to the overarching company goal. This will help align each role to the bigger purpose of the brand.
How you do what you do
Next is to outline what it means to be responsible and accountable for a department or even a task, and how the team agrees to support each other. These are more process-driven and should act as a playbook that each team member can use to make decisions, take ownership of their work, and feel confident they have driven the team forward towards accomplishing goals. Questions here could be ‘When is everyone expected to be available?’ and ‘How long before you get back to a client or colleague?’
It’s also helpful to describe how information is shared, decisions are made, and problems are solved. We’d also go as far as communicating how the team shows up for clients, including appropriate dress codes and communication preferences.
To take a step deeper and create a team culture that encourages the team to accept each other, communicate well, and play to strengths, we’d suggest drafting an informal agreement, like a psychological contract, to give details on how the team agrees to behave, communicate with each other, and offer support to the team. Again, this is a powerful tool we learned about while working with Credo Growth, and we think you’ll find value in using it too.
Continuing what you do
Success is in the team’s spoken and unspoken values and actions. It is built on consistent acts of discipline and rituals, and the way each person in the team shows up for themselves and the rest of the team will set everyone up for success – including the business! Being clear on things like the values of the team and how success is celebrated is important to motivate the team to have dreams and work towards them. Buy-in at this stage is crucial because if your team does not resonate with the core values and purpose of the company, they’ll likely lose the drive to succeed, or move on to chase other dreams.
Show what you do
The final stage of the process is to bring it all together in a way that makes sense for your business and is in line with your brand. Branding is everything and it ties your team culture back to your company. We’re suckers for design and well crafted work, so we’ll always advocate for bringing your culture to life in a physical version of your Brand Canvas.
It’s all good and well for your team to feel the culture. It’s even more effective to have a visual reminder of your vision – whether it’s a book, video or up on your wall. After all, seeing is believing. And believing is reality.
So, if you’re ready to build a rock solid foundation to support your team, let us know – we’d love to help you articulate your team culture in a way that resonates with your team.