Team culture: The greatest competitive advantage
How you practice defines how you play. How you feel defines how you perform.
Culture can be described as the feeling we have about different aspects of our lives. Our country, church, work and family – each has its own unique culture that is continually shaped by the actions of the group. So how does culture affect a business? Significantly.
Virtually every company strives to have new products, patents and specific technical skills that are valued in the marketplace. However, the real competitive advantage of a business rests within the team – the people who translate ideas into reality, turn problems into solutions, and live and breathe life into the business each day. The greatest competitive advantage of any business is the one element that cannot be reproduced – the unique team of people working every day to nurture a positive culture.
Within every company is the history of its products and the people who brought them to market; the history of every challenge overcome, every meeting, every email, and every person who contributed to the success of the team. Each action defines and reinforces a company’s cultural behaviors. While a team’s culture is sometimes described on a plaque or in a slogan, ultimately the culture is a feeling of responsibility to act in a certain way, to treat fellow employees and customers within a consistent approach, and to teach and develop new employees with the philosophy of “the way we do things here.”
Developing a common culture aligns teams to make decisions in the best interests of the company, employees and customers. A key point in continuing a positive direction is ensuring new employees align with the culture on their first day through tactics such as storytelling, reinforcing positive behaviors and coaching misaligned actions.
Storytelling past experiences is a powerful tool to highlight “what great looks like” within the cultural framework. Successful examples of solving problems, improving results and celebrating achievements reinforces the right decisions while also demonstrating what isn’t acceptable. Employees learn how their actions align with the culture when they receive timely recognition of successes as well as coaching to improve.
Coaching employees on the cultural guidelines establishes boundaries of what is acceptable, such as how to solve problems and resolve employee disagreements, while also reinforcing the quality of the products made. A healthy culture enables employees to make high-quality, ethical decisions with minimal direction and rewards employees for making the correct choices for the team rather than their own self interests. Doing what’s right regardless of who gets the credit is a key contributor to success.
Great cultures produce great employees who enjoy their work. These employees are often easier to work with, committed to quality and focused on the long-term success of the business. Successful teams are produced from healthy cultures and the positives influences of each person.
Business and economics
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