Small steps that lead to big change

To make big changes to your business, you don’t necessarily have to take big steps. In fact, it’s often the little steps you take that can have the biggest impact. 

Here is a list of some small steps you can start taking today, in order to make vast improvements to your company’s culture and outcomes. 

Collaborate often and embrace conflict

Most great ideas start with one person and evolve and grow over time with input from others. Collaboration is the key to extracting creativity and ideas from everyone in the business. Organisations who respect everyone in the business from every level, will be keen to harness the ideas and feedback from people at every level. Part of this is shifting your mindset to be open to ideas, letting go of the “my way and the wrong way” mindset and genuinely listening to others. When people have different options and ideas, it creates a good and healthy environment for discussion and analysis and prevents groupthink. Embrace the concept that the best idea in the room wins, not the most important person. 

Develop a culture where conflict that arises in collaboration is a good thing, differences in opinion are a good thing, tension in conflict leads to breakthroughs. We so often get it wrong, when tension becomes uncomfortable the conflict is often dissipated right at the crucial point – learn some facilitative techniques to manage the conflict and work through it in order to extract the ideas respectfully, hear everyone’s opinions and define what’s needed to move forward. Leaders need to also get used to compromise; the essence of true collaboration. 

Embrace mistakes 

Making mistakes provides the perfect opportunity to learn and grow. Many companies who embrace a culture of mistake-making and shared learning, say it’s a fundamental part of their growth. In cultures where people feel supported and are allowed to make mistakes, where they feel psychologically safe, there is more accountability and acceptance to learn and grow. When mistakes do get made and are handled in a positive light, it promotes gratitude and loyalty. These cultures report lower staff turnover rates. In environments where mistakes are not allowed, where people see that mistakes lead to bad consequences for the people that make them, fear, blame and a culture of covering up thrives. Leaders need to understand that mistakes are always going to happen and having a defined growth policy in place and communicating this openly with the people in the business is crucial in creating a strong culture and fostering a sense of security and a growth-mindset in staff. 

Focus on productivity 

Get insightful about what really makes teams more productive. In her book “Beyond Measure” Margaret Heffernan advises that leaders can do the following to create more productive teams; 

  • Discourage long hours. This just results in burn out and creates people who are less able to be creative and adaptable, less motivated and diminishes problem-solving capacity. 
  • Respect the flow. Leaders and their teams have a natural tempo. When you have been working hard and fast to meet a looming deadline, allow for a significantly slower pace directly afterwards, entourage people take some time in lieu, embrace the downtime when it lasts and before the tempo cranks up again. 
  • Develop the social capital. According to Heffernan, it takes 40 days for teams to truly bond and get into a good flow of productivity. Leaders need to ‘break silos’ in order to develop the social capital of a team – getting out of the office, get teams visiting different parts of the business to build understanding and empathy on how other departments work and who they actually are. In meetings, allow everyone to have their say, with equal time to talk, become more diverse in your hiring policy. All these things put a focus on building a culture that promotes strong social capital.

Shift your mindset 

Leaders need to really know who their employees are; both as a group and individually. In those companies where leaders truly value and respect the ideas and opinions of their staff, higher outcomes are observed. Expect great things and believe in your people, and you will get great things. Hire the right people and then trust that they can do their job effectively. The more power you give to your staff, the more powerful you become as a whole. So put some strategies around your distribution of power and try not to be too top-heavy. 

Leaders who actively focus on developing a strong rock-solid culture will experience more drive and loyal employees and be in a healthier position to change, adapt and grow. Is your culture up to scratch? If you and your team want to kick off the year on the right foot, get in touch today, I’d love to help.

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