Last week I read an article from the Harvard Business Review titled ‘5 Questions to Ask About Corporate Culture to Get Beyond the Usual Meaningless Blather’. It caught my eye because of the reference to corporate culture – at Leading Teams the dynamics of the workplace (how we do things around here, or ‘culture’) is our specialty. So, I decided to judge our own team culture against the criteria in the article and see how we fared.
Q1. Is your talent strategy rooted in your business strategy?
Our talent strategy IS our business strategy. Leading Teams aspires to growth but it has to be in the right way. We only grow when we find people who are a good match for Leading Teams – if there’s no one that seems a fit with our values and our behaviours, we stay as we are. Our team isn’t prepared to risk the culture we’ve worked so hard to build for the sake of being able to bring in a little extra cash. And if we can’t give a client the full service they deserve from us at a particular time, or the client isn’t ready and open to the idea of feedback, we don’t take the work.
Ray McLean talks about the ideology behind growing Leading Teams:
Q2. Does your company work as distinctively as it competes?
Authenticity is a big part of Leading Teams, and of the individuals that make it up. We follow the same model we advocate to our clients; we have a team trademark (Go The Extra Yard) and a set of behaviours underneath that which explain what it really means to go the extra yard. One of those behaviours so ‘show genuine care for each other’ and I can say with complete honesty that the people at Leading Teams care more about the team and the work they do than I’ve ever seen in any other workplace.
Martine Harkin talks about being able to call on your team at a moment’s notice:
Q3. Can you capture what it means to be a member of your organisation?
One hundred per cent. The trademark, and our behaviours, identify exactly what it means to be a member of Leading Teams. In 2016, we introduced the Sally McLean award; named for our founder Ray’s late wife Sally, the award recognises the person in the team who has best lived our behaviours during the course of the year. Our commitment to our trademark is complete and our expectation that each member of the team honours it is absolute.
Q4. Is your culture built for learning as well as performance?
Yes. We invest a significant amount of time in internal training, with all staff attending quarterly two-day training sessions at our head office, in addition to new facilitator skills development and external training as required. Even our most experienced facilitators are expected to attend – there is always something to learn in this job and we believe that the best way to learn is by doing it. In addition to that, our whole team commits to regular days of observation – this might be you observing a colleague or them observing you. Either way, there is much to be learnt from it on both sides.
Q5. Can your culture maintain its zest for change and renewal, even when the company stumbles?
I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but yes. Having a strong team culture doesn’t mean we don’t experience downtimes or periods of difficulty. In March 2017, we closed our Western Australian office, and the departure of three team members hit us all hard. But our founder, Ray, would say that periods of adversity are the true test of a trademark and I think ours held us up really well. Our commitment to living our model and valuing the relationships that we have between the members of our team helped us to manage the situation in the best way possible and, importantly, is what helped us regroup and focus on the future.
I’m pleased, but not surprised, to discover that Leading Teams can honestly answer yes to each of these questions; it’s part of what makes this a great place to work.
Would your culture stand up to this scrutiny? We’d be happy to discuss how we can help.