The Most Overlooked But Important Aspect of Organizations.
Most leaders focus their entire efforts on the visual product. Whether that be the services they provide, the items their organization is selling, or as Pastors the worship experience i.e. the preaching and music. Focusing on those things is not inherently bad unless you are ignoring the unseen factor which is culture. Culture is not seen but felt and experienced. Culture can’t be copied from someone else but has to be developed from who you are as an organization. Culture is the unified DNA of your leaders that creates an environment that your people feel or experience.
A good way to check the pulse of how effective your culture may be is by listening to people’s feedback on how they felt as they experienced your organization. Not what they liked, but how what they liked made them feel! It is one thing to hear “that was a good message” compared to “I felt like you were speaking directly to me and I left with so much hope”. Its one thing to hear “your people are nice” or “I have never felt so welcomed, loved, and at home by the way I was greeted”. Do you see the difference? It is how they feel that communicates most effectively what they experienced and what they experience is your culture.
Every organization has a culture whether they realize it or not, but most do not have an effective culture. I have heard it said by many leaders that “A bad culture eats a good vision for breakfast”. So focusing on your culture is imperative for your organization and developing team values is one of the most effective ways in identifying the culture you desire for your organization.
1. Write out what you want to stand for!
Team values are a list of traits that make up your leaders and what you stand for as an organization. What do you want to be known for when people talk about you to others? What do you want people to experience in your organization? What are the qualities you want your leaders to have?
2. Don’t create more than ten.
If you have too many values your people won’t remember any of them. List out the values that you identified earlier and start to list out the absolute most important down to the least important. Also, identify if any values could be combined because of similarities.
3. Make the value rememberable.
Don’t make the value to long and complicated, but keep it short to make it easier to remember. You can add a short description afterward to really define it, but the initial value should be something we can remember. For example you can find our Team Values at Bloom Church here.
4. Repeat often.
Vision leaks and so does your values. We get so busy doing our projects that our tunnel vision can cloud our memory. It is important to constantly go over your values just like you would go over your vision. I heard Craig Groeschel once say something of the sorts that when your team starts making fun of what you say because you have said it so much that it has finally stuck. Speak your values so much that your team starts finishing your sentences.
5. Celebrate often.
What is celebrated is repeated. Celebrate when your people are rising up to the occasion and creating a culture that impacts your people. Celebrate with words, with cards, and with gifts. Also, it is great to celebrate these people publicly in front of the whole team because it does two things. First, the person feels extremely special as they become recognized in front of their peers, but also it reminds the other team members that you notice those values being lived out. So it is a positive way to remind the team to rise up to the occasion.
Values create culture, culture creates an environment, and an environment creates an experience. This is should be at the top of your list to develop and implement immediately because it will radically shift the interactions that you have with your people. Remember culture doesn’t cost anything but time and effort!