When a new leader takes over a team that lacks direction and focus, there are a few early steps that pave the way toward success. The most important of these are protocols around:
- Verbal communication
- In-person interactions
- Internal and external electronic communication
- Respect for time commitments
- Standards for professional behavior
- Expectations in regards to client and customer interactions
In most cases, these expectations are referred to as operating norms.
Establishing Norms and Systems
Shared operational commitments serve as parameters for workplace energy and conduct. They provide the cornerstones for your team to build on and begin to experience sustained success. Initially, these shared behaviors appear as a commitment to personal exercise. It’s a conscious choice when each day you remind yourself, and those you work with, that you’ll follow through with these commitments.
In many cases, it paints a stark contrast to scenarios that were previously expected and tolerated.
When organizational systems are changed for the better, team members are called to exit their comfort zones and embrace new ways of doing things. Getting your team to embrace systemic change requires that you regularly provide examples, reassurance, and affirmation. This prevents a return to old, familiar ways that undermine long-term efficiency gains and positive impacts.
These changes should also be underpinned by positive working relationships and genuine care for the well-being of the team. A leader who understands this can provide a scaffold from which their team is able to climb out of a cycle of sporadic mediocrity and up to new heights of ongoing success.
Providing the Framework for Continued Growth
Getting your team to embrace new norms and organizational systems requires initial discipline and a willingness to lean into the discomfort of change. As changes begin to bear fruit, your team will move into a phase of acceptance, followed by phases of adoption and enculturation.
The Acceptance Phase
The acceptance phase is both an exciting and dangerous place for a leader to be. When you realize the changes you’ve brought forth are working, you must immediately reinforce them. Celebrate the success of your team. When people move the team forward within the context of established norms and systems, recognize their work.
It’s easy, in this phase, to allow a high performer who is obtaining results outside the shared norms and systems to persist in their ways. But, this undermines the capacity of the whole team to move further forward.
The acceptance phase will vary in length, depending on the number of challenges the team faces and the amount of success they experience related to their shared commitment. Frame the work and accomplishments in such a way that the norms and systems are genuinely understood to be the underpinning of forward momentum.
The Adoption Phase
A team has moved from acceptance to adoption at the point when they embrace the new norms and systems so fully that returning to the old ways is considered inefficient, less collaborative, and less mutually beneficial. Ownership can also be observed when team members espouse the norms and systems to others, crediting their present success to this shared commitment.
The Enculturation Phase
Broadly speaking, culture can be defined as a way of life for a society. A highly developed workplace culture includes a set of values, protocols, and norms for interactions that define how every phase of business is conducted. When each member of your team has such a strong understanding of these aspects that they’ve internalized them as their own, the growth from adoption to culture occurs.
Take the Steps Toward Culture
Businesses and organizations that have advanced to a place where workplace culture is both a priority and shared value, find that their culture becomes a defining feature. It’s commonly referenced by both customers and clients as a reason to do business with that particular entity.
It’s not the norm, but there are businesses with workplace cultures so strong they define the brand itself. These businesses enjoy an unrivaled level of customer loyalty. Their culture differentiates them from competitors, protecting and growing their market share.
There’s a cost to investing in internal culture. You have to put in both time and commitment, but the rewards are potentially quite substantial.
Are you ready to invest in the culture of your organization and lead your team to true success? Download our free eBook today!
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.