Thanks for all your great questions about your team cultures. Here’s a recent inquiry:
Q: I’m managing a team that has past experience and history with management being very controlling and not very trusting. That is where I am having trouble getting them (my employees) “all in.” What are some good ways to get them motivated and put more weight on the future than the past?
A: First, good for you. As a leader, few things will have more influence over your success than the culture of the team around you. Second, understand that when leaders set out to establish a new more positive culture, they face an equal chance of one of two eventualities: adoption or oblivion. Adoption requires an extensive process of employee input; management accountability; and continuing messaging, training and recognition. It is a lot work for a leader, and thus it’s rare.
I’ll be honest that more common is oblivion, as the majority of culture shifts are never integrated into the day-to-day actions but fade away, victims of subpar or inconsistent communication and reinforcement. Your employees have seen this before. Where many managers slip up is trying to focus their employees as if this process were something to check off a to-do list rather than a commitment that runs DNA-deep. Superficiality in this cultural process is deadly, because employees mirror it. They view your mission, vision, and goals with continued suspicion, rather than as core values to embrace.
A wise leader must kick off this new culture of trust with inclusion—bringing employees together to draft the mission, values and goals together, giving everyone a voice. The leader must then commit to openness of communication—we call this Share Everything—and then by publically recognizing even small steps toward the desired culture, which we call Root for Each Other.
In our new book All In, we show the seven steps managers can use to influence a culture such as yours. They were built from the 300,000-person research study conducted by Towers Watson, and include some solid ways to help turn around the cynicism and doubt you are facing. Good luck.
And Think Orange!