Souls, Goals, and Roles

Many years ago (ok, maybe 10 years ago), I wrote a blog post with this exact same title. I was a young, immature leader who thought I knew way more than I actually did about business.

After growing into management roles and even owning my own business, I realized that I actually didn’t know squat.  Maybe I just liked that the title of my blog post idea had a ring to it and it rhymed.  Ten years removed from the original post, do these ingredients still work as a basis for a healthy company culture?  With so many companies now moving to various alternative management structures and allowing for remote working, I felt it was time to see if the ingredients for a healthy company culture have changed.

The focus on true employee chemistry and teamwork has mostly been lost along the road of self-fulfilling climbs up the corporate ladder. Social media has magnified the “me” movement where people tend to care less about others and more about personal agendas. Remote workers and flexible time schedules have key employees in the office less and less. With those hurdles in place, how do companies still cultivate a culture that is thriving in passion and is inspired to work as a team?

Let’s break down some of the most important ingredients.  Every company needs the right employees.  Steve Jobs once said, “I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream. A small team of A+ players that can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”  What does an A+ employee look like?  This person is not only one of the best at their skillset but this person needs to have soul.

Soul is the spiritual part of every human being that is at the root of all that person stands for. Look for passionate, motivated, and rock-solid personalities. These types need to not only be good at their physical work but be selfless team players that are motivated by the values set forth by the company vision. The vision starts at the top and gets communicated throughout the company so that all employees are connected by working toward a common goal.

Goals are the second set of ingredients. As mentioned before, the vision for the company culture starts from the top of the ladder, the business owner, or if you are in a flat company hierarchy, the person that is charged with internal company culture. Everyone pushing toward a common goal is a key ingredient in promoting mutual respect and teamwork within the organization. That main goal or vision trickles down and allows teams and then individuals to form their own set of goals – ultimately moving a company quickly in the same direction.

Roles have always been an important staple in forming a successful company. Everyone needs to have a role and know their role. This seems like an obvious ingredient but there are so many companies that hire employees to fill several talent gaps. In baseball, they call that a utility player. There is nothing is wrong with a utility player within a company; they can actually play a pretty vital role. A utility player who doesn’t know he/she is a utility player will always think they should fit into the mold of someone else’s role, therefore they will not have a clear picture of what their purpose in the company is. A confused employee is a disgruntled employee. Roles are key to allowing people to work within their talents to be most productive to the business.

As a young leader, I would have stopped there and thought, “wow that is probably the best blog post anyone has ever written about company culture”. I hope I look back on this post ten years from now and think, “wow, I didn’t know squat about business then either.” Great leaders are always learning.

Any baker knows that there are various substitutions for ingredients when trying to bake a cake. While all those substitutions may all result in a cake, they most definitely won’t all taste the same. So what is missing, now that times have changed, human culture has changed, and the nature of business has changed?

There is one common thread that runs throughout our ingredients: A common thread that makes each ingredient possible in the first place. It’s so obvious that I don’t know how my 30-year-old self missed it in the first place. An ingredient that has also become a very important key to successful businesses now hiring remote workers and holding flexible time schedules.

Communication. Every owner knows communication is important, but there are so many communication methods that not just any one method will work in today’s corporate world. In a later blog post, I will cover specific methods of effective corporate communication in today’s landscape.

Communication needs to be open, free, and honest at all levels. When you start to see private huddles of water cooler talk within the company it needs to be quickly addressed and is usually a sign of a break down in one of our company culture ingredients. As great communication is the binding agent that holds all ingredients together.

The recipe for great company culture can come with many ingredients although I believe these ingredients are some of the most important at play. What is your best advice for forming a winning company culture? Share your ingredients in the comments below.

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