12 May 2017
Carpe Culture. Seize the Moment to Improve Company’s Culture
You can’t touch, smell, or see a “company’s culture”, but if you’ve been in great or terrible cultures, you can definitely feel it. The best companies know that a great culture does not appear out of thin air, but is the result of hours of planning, events, and investment.
Here are 5 tools to create an atmosphere for an amazing company culture to grow and thrive.
Focus on You
This exercise is fantastic to do when you have new people joining a team or are bringing together cross-functional teams (best to keep it to under 5 or 6 people). It’s a simple collection of questions from HR consulting firm Talent Plus that provides a structured manner to breaking the ice that makes it easy for even the most shy amongst us to talk about themselves. The six questions are: What is the name you like to be called? What do you get paid to do? What are your hot buttons (the things that are automatic conversation starters)? What is your greatest success (one personal and one professional), in the past year? What do you do best? Lastly, What are your goals for the next year (one personal and professional)?
Try this team building activity created by NASA the next time you’re looking for a pen and paper exercise to kick off a day of all company meetings. Crash Landing on the Moon (it’s on pages 20-30).
These first two activities, like all you’re going to see, require you to spend some time with your co-workers. Getting together with colleagues, especially outside of formal work situations (even if in the office), is a powerful means of breaking down communication barriers and building relationships. Everything we do is easier if we are in good relations with those around us, from overcoming problems, having tough conversations, or celebrating wins.
Throw a Company Picnic
There’s something magical about summertime and nothing beats a picnic on a sunny day in May (or June, July, or August for that matter). Gather up the team on a Saturday, invite the families and grill up some food. No agenda, no activities needed (but here’s a few ideas for picnic games anyways), just people sitting around with their families seeing one another in a different light. Talking and building relationships over some food and a nice day.
Try a chilli cook off, potluck lunch week, or a coffee week. Here at Magic Web Solutions we brought in an experienced barista for the week and he prepared coffee from all over the world and using different methods. We tried Ethiopian coffee in a french press, and Columbian coffee in an Aeropress, light roasts and dark roasts. We took time out of our day to learn a little bit about one of the most popular beverages in the world (and we had the added benefit of a caffeine boost afterwards!). It was a great opportunity for us all to learn something new together in a non-work subject matter.
There are some seriously corny team building activities and even good ideas can be executed poorly. When it comes time to bring everyone together and build bridges, break down walls, and generally encourage togetherness don’t leave it all up to HR. By encouraging involvement by the business unit leaders you’ll have some built in support for the activities from the start and they will better know how to position activities for their teams. Doing these kinds of things on a quarterly basis can be a great ritual to give people a break for their day to day work and maybe even provide a little inspiration.
All Company Meeting
It doesn’t have to be Powerpoints and Presidents at these kinds of events. Bring everyone together at least twice a year and share some of the directions, celebrate the successes, and align everyone towards the same future state. Get a nice mix of team building activities and formal talks by company leadership. The activities lined out above are all effective and easy to implement and will be a welcome break to the typical corporate function.
Culture can undermine a company and it can power a company to overcome any obstacle. As a management team your responsibility is to create a space that allows great practices to flourish, people to grow, and positivism to win out over negativity. We may not be able to force culture to move in the right direction, but we can carve out channels and create space for a solid culture to incubate and grow.
Here’s a quick and easy agenda for a company-wide meeting that will leave people energized and excited:
9:30 – Coffee, Tea, and Breakfast snacks
10:00 – Official kickoff
10:15 – Focus on You
11:00 – Company presentation on past 6 months performance
12:00 – Break to let people handle a few emails, make any calls, etc.
12:30 – Lunch
1:15 – Crash Landing on the Moon activity
2:00 – Company presentation on the next 6 months goals and announcements
3:00 – Wrap it up – Schedule it for the entire day and wrap up ahead of schedule. Nothing leaves people happier than getting done early!