three workers at desk having fun

Written by Tanya Abbey

When I’m engaged by a client to recruit for their team, one of the main points that surfaces in an initial meeting is the importance of finding the right “cultural fit”. This prompts further questions from my side around what their team is like, how they onboard their staff and what they deem would be the right cultural fit.

More often than not, when we’re recruiting for an organisation, clients will be in one of three situations: the first being that they already have a great culture and team which they are trying to grow, the second, they are trying to rebuild a team culture after a few bad hires or a structure or leadership change, and the third, they are starting with a small team which they have the desire to grow.

Established or mature companies typically have a set of 'moral codes' and values that show through their work. These impact how staff interact with one another and how they respond in certain situations. Therefore, it is important that when hiring, companies attract like-minded individuals to maintain these written or unwritten “rules”.

Positivity and Collaboration in my words

I’ll provide my insight into what positivity and collaboration means to me and why these approaches are important when building, growing and fostering workplace culture.

Positivity, to some, is seen as something that is cheery or bubbly, and those who are seen to be positive can sometimes receive feedback that their positivity is ignorant.

As a positive person myself, I describe my outlook as “finding a solution with an optimistic mindset”. If we approach things with a negative mindset we can view everything in that light and this has the potential to spread to those around us.

Collaboration - another important element in any organisation's culture - involves seeking input and advice from everyone in the team to strengthen the knowledge and capability of those at all levels.

It also means that we take on the ownership and responsibility of looking after each other, being accountable for our actions and making sure we do things authentically and with passion.

Working from home – it needs to be structured

When we transitioned to working from home during the COVID enforced shutdowns in 2020, we automated our HR platform into a tool (CoHealth Workforce Management) with the intention of looking after our employees’ health and wellbeing.

During this process, we researched both national and international companies and found that, overall, people felt disengaged when working in solo roles, at home, or in remote positions. This not only impacted the standard of their work but also, more importantly, their mindset, life, and overall outlook.

In order to minimise this, we interacted with our staff via zoom calls in the mornings and afternoons. Although they may have felt like it was a “Big Brother” approach; strategically, it was done to help them feel prepared for the day ahead as well as to facilitate engagement in the afternoon. After being alone (essentially) for eight hours in between, this collaborative approach had the aim of bringing our team together in times where we were apart.

The topic of mental health and the lack of engagement for those working from home, or in autonomous roles, is very important and there needs to be more thought put into how we support those in these arrangements.

The importance of accountability

In theory, it should be easy to maintain a positive mindset and be a collaborative team player. However, as humans we are complex and we all have our own personal stresses, self-pressure and attitudes shaped by our experiences which impact how we interact and react in particular environments.

So with this in mind, we need to consider how we build and maintain a good culture. Whilst my role is the CEO, it would be exhausting to carry and push a positive mindset all by myself. In our company, I maintain that it is everyone’s responsibility to be a 'culture leader' and to foster and protect the “wolfpack” (our employees) as individuals and as a team.

It is everyone’s responsibility to check-in, support and look out for each other, in both the good times and during the challenging ones.

You shouldn’t expect your team to always be smiling or jumping up and down with joy every day – that is unrealistic – but you should give and ask for transparency and open communication as much as possible. Without this, as managers, we don’t know where the stresses lie, making it difficult to support our employees or build mutual trust to foster a strong working relationship.

Employees cannot expect a workplace that provides a good career path, flexible working hours, or a “fun” environment when they have a terrible attitude. And employers cannot expect staff to be motivated, collaborative and have a good work ethic if they are not responsive, open, and transparent (where possible).

Business owners – set the tone

When you are starting a business, you set the tone and the work environment, and your attitude and outlook should work to attract the same type of people who will want to join your team.

Be engaging, present and respectful, and know that in times of stress, you will have people who will be there in solidarity with you and offer the same in return.

To reach both personal and business goals, it is imperative for the company and team to value each other’s opinions and experience, and have genuine trust and respect for individual contribution.

By fostering a positive and collaborative workplace, you can expect great things from your team as they will feel appreciated and supported. They will also recognise the responsibility they have to contribute to the overall success and culture of the team - making them feel part of something truly important.

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