It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO or working on the front line. You are completely in control of the culture in your organisation. You are in control of creating or breaking down silos for the success of your business.
Firstly, let’s take a look at one of the biggest contributors to success in an organisation, which is trust, and trust starts with communication that is welcoming, warm, honest, authentic and safe. But sometimes on an organisational scale, this does not happen. It may happen in teams but not so well cross-functionally. And not so well from the top!
We see silos in many organisations we work with and these silos usually start in the Executive Team. Every leader is dedicated, driven and wants the best for their division but sometimes with this drive comes an internal focus rather than a collaborative one. So we help leaders start with the fundamentals and going back to good old fashioned face to face, personal conversations. Sounds obvious, right? But it doesn’t always happen. Be honest with yourself, when did you ask someone, not in your direct team, a personal question?
Gearing up for holidays is always an exciting time. Particularly the summer holidays, when more people plan to spend time with family, relax and enjoy the great outdoors. The weeks leading up to holidays, no matter when that is or what season you go into, are the perfect time to start improving your workplace culture, but how?
It’s the last week and your team and customers, have turned their focus to shutting down and taking a break. Some people have already stopped, some still have office Christmas parties or EOFY (end of financial year) parties to attend, but in general, the mood at work is different which makes it the perfect time for a leader, or anyone, to be different too.
Take the time to talk with the team members you might not know or you may not usually see on a daily basis. Walk around with a box of chocolates, have a chat, ask them about themselves. Introduce yourself to their partners at the office party. Show genuine interest in who they are and what’s happening for them right now. Ask them: “what are you doing over the holidays?’ “what are you doing for New Year’s Eve?”
And listen, take some mental notes for when you bump into them on their return to work. This will demonstrate you care and that they are important enough to remember. Knowing and using this information are the building blocks for trust.
If you’re the CEO of a big organisation, you’re probably not immediately accessible to everyone so if you do take some time to connect with people in the wider team, share a little about yourself. Share in a way that gives the other person something they can feedback to you in the future. Remember it doesn’t matter what your position you can start this process every day!
You can even take a cue from your team member to find a common ground.
“Will you be watching the cricket on boxing day? I love the cricket…”
“Is skiing something you do during the holidays? We are planning our first ever ski trip, I haven’t even seen snow!”
“How are the kids?” “Do you have kids?” “How old are they? Mine are…”
It’s the little things that make a difference and tapping into what matters to the other person is an excellent way to build a connection. Taking interest in other people’s lives and what matters to them, will go a long way to building trust and to building team intelligence, even if you’re not talking about work – and you know what? Don’t talk about work in these situations, just be social. Show them what they can expect of you in the new year by being genuine and approachable.
You don’t need to make dramatic changes to start improving your organisation’s culture. You can take any given moment to try something different, something better.
Even the smallest exchange, like a ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘wow what a big year. Thank you for your effort”, or listening to what’s happening for them right now, can make a huge difference to a relationship, and ultimately workplace success.