Like most of you, I want to help create and benefit from having a great work environment and a great work culture. Corporate culture matters. You might have heard the often-quoted research from Mike West that strategy accounts for 2% of corporate performance variability while culture accounts for 17% of performance variability. Many respected researchers and business leaders, like John Kotter and James Heskett, have written about the impact culture has on business performance.
I’m a believer that although no one leader can change a corporate culture overnight, we can directly change our team’s climate as easily and as quickly as we can press a button on a thermostat to change the temperature in a room.
One way to do that is by creating a healthy set of team norms. Norms are expected and shared practices or behaviors for individuals within a group. Some norms are standards for making decisions or explicit and tangible actions – like “we greet customers with a smile." Some norms are less tangible and more implicit – like "don’t take yourself too seriously" – and are created through the interpersonal relationships and interactions between individual team members.
Here’s a straightforward, practical approach for creating team norms at your next team meeting:
If you think this sounds a little like the suggestions I made in my post about ground rules, you’re right. The two are related.
And if creating and adopting norms are done well, over time they will become “just the way things are done around here.” And that’s when real culture change takes root.
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