How to Build Culture on your Team

A few years ago I had the responsibility of delivering a few words at my father’s funeral. I decided I would share about a few of the things he had taught me growing up. It was at the funeral that I shared 4 things that were sown into me through my upbringing:

  • Be proud of your family
  • Enjoy what you do
  • See the humor in life
  • Leave a legacy

These 4 things helped form the culture of our family. Here is the thing – I don’t know that I remember my dad ever saying those things. However as I reflect on our family life I see my dad built those things into the culture of our family.

The idea of building culture is a bit of a misnomer, because culture already exists wherever you are. Depending on your environment the cultural cement might still be wet and able to be shaped.

For the people on your team you have to realize that many things can be taught, but culture is not one of them. Culture is observed and embraced through osmosis. Developing it is a process that takes time. (click to tweet)

If you want to develop your team culture, there are 3 main actions to take:

  1. Share it – You have to actually tell people what you want to be true of your culture. This does not necessarily mean you have to gather everyone in a room and teach a lesson. You just have to speak up and acknowledge actions and attitudes that embody the culture. At 12Stone some of the cultural norms which have most stuck with me were not delivered to me by a stage communicator but rather they were observed at random. A leader might tap me on the shoulder and say, “see that…that is what we want.
  1. Celebrate it – You have to exalt and make a big deal of things you want to re-enforce. This does not have to be a grand gesture to celebrate, it could be as simple as pausing and telling someone “I noticed this and I just wanted to say thank you.”
  1. Model it – People follow the leader. Leaders pave the way for culture by modeling it within their environment. (click to tweet) This might be the most important action you take, because your people follow your lead. If you speak about and celebrate one thing and then model different behavior the people will be confused.

In your environment be aware of the culture that exists and be intentional about cultivating the actions and attitudes that you desire.

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