Why every small business needs a team culture guru

Friday 6 October, 2017

In this competitive market, business owners have more to think about than ever before. Sharp focus on sales, profit, tax obligations, and clients often means that you can forget about team culture. A strong team culture attracts great people, which in turn equals success, so it’s important to put energy into creating a happy environment. A high-functioning team can be the difference between a 5% and a 25% growth.

As a father of four, I often feel like a father figure to the thirteen people I work with. This isn’t necessarily because they need caring for, but rather because I feel a strong sense of responsibility to create an environment where the team loves and enjoys coming to work.

With so many areas to focus on, I find there are days when I have too many balls in the air. As my team grew, it became harder and harder to keep the business growing whilst also creating the amazing work environment I’d envisioned—I was dropping the team culture ball. I have often looked at businesses like Facebook and Google and wondered how they create workplaces that inspire and motivate their team.

I had all of these great ideas that I wanted to implement, but as I am always being pulled in so many different directions as the business owner, I couldn’t prioritise the time or find the energy to create the culture I wanted. The solution I found was to appoint someone on my team to be my Team Culture Guru (TCG).

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I knew my guru needed to be someone who was amazing at organising events, was well-liked by the team and was an all-around fun person. Whilst it is not essential that the person be an extrovert, they do need to be goal orientated and great at task completion.

My TCG and I sat down and started brainstorming some initial ideas and came up with a weekly team-building budget. Each week my TCG can either spend the full or partial budget as sometimes saving up for a few weeks leaves a more substantial surprise for the team at the end of the month.

What I have found works really well to inspire and motivate our team are the simple things that show appreciation, such as having flowers delivered with personalised notes of congratulations and surprise morning teas. Everyone loves to feel valued and team members who feel appreciated will always do more than ones who don’t.

End-of-month lunches in the office are simple and effective as they bring the team together to chat socially. I have found that team members who get to know each other socially are far more forgiving and supportive in the workplace.

Finding activities where the team can connect is really important. These can include after-work drinks and team-building activities such as hiking, orienteering, and attending cooking schools. Fun days out together such as Race Days, Oktoberfest, Trivia Nights, and Riverfire are great occasions and excuses to reward your team and celebrate together.

This year, I am taking my team to Oktoberfest and I have organised a VIP table to let them know how much I appreciate them.

No one can do it all on their own. While you need to have a clear vision of what your company's team culture looks like, appoint a TCG and delegate the culture implementation to them. Not only will it free you up to continue to steer the strategic direction of your business, but you will probably have a lot more fun along the way.

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