The most powerful start to defining a business culture is answering some basic questions: What do you reward? What behaviors and actions do you publicly acknowledge and highlight in your organization?
Most companies do a good job of celebrating the acquisition of new business, new clients, or simply put, sales. Sell a million widgets, win a trip to the Caribbean. Sales champions typically have no shortage of plaques on their walls and front-and-center stage time before their peers.
The tendency of many organizations is to shine the spotlight only on income producing activities, such as driving cash received. I'm not suggesting that sales commissions be cut and all sales contests abolished. Activities that build company wealth clearly deserve some glory. However, institutions need to recognize contributions beyond the more traceable and sexy sales numbers.
Many companies miss big opportunities to unify their teams by commending only a few actions. The best leaders understand that motivation is a huge component of both individual and group success. They know some will work harder for a cause and for teammates than they would for their own advancement.
Here are five positive behaviors to immediately acknowledge:
1. Recognize those who save the company money.
Don't overlook the fact that a dollar saved by diligent negotiation or shrewd comparison pricing is just as important as a dollar brought in. When someone in purchasing parleys a great deal, make sure the rest of the team knows about it.
Public praise helps to validate that their contribution to the team is meaningful, sparking in everyone the desire to replicate the behavior.
2. Recognize those who help others.
Every business needs more team members who support others and go the extra mile. A powerful way to create a culture of helpers is to point out this behavior in emails, one-on-ones and team meetings. Whatever you promote and draw attention to has a tendency to happen again.
3. Recognize the 'radiators' on your team.
Some people can make others better by simply radiating an aura of positivity into the workplace. These are the people who make work so enjoyable the team wants to be at the office Monday morning.
The radiators are an important part of your team. Give them a public shout-out for the intangible contribution their infectious attitude delivers.
4. Recognize consistency.
One value I've grown to appreciate more and more in co-workers is consistency. A teammate I can always count on gives me tremendous peace of mind. A consistent performer may not generate the tremendous up-spikes that normally get recognized – but don't let this diminish the impact they make. Take a consistent performer out to lunch today to thank them for always being there.
5. Recognize those who live the culture.
When you think about the culture you want to develop at your workplace, what comes to mind? Or better put, who comes to mind? Do the people who are the living embodiment of your culture know it? More importantly, do their co-workers know it?
One of the most difficult components of creating a satisfying, thriving culture is defining it. Help to set the tone by figuring out creative ways to highlight team members who are leading by example in this ever-important category.
Culture is never static. It changes every time you promote, hire or fire someone. Because of these inevitable fluctuations, a focus on culture merits a top spot on every leader's priority list. A defined strategy for recognizing behaviors you want to encourage throughout your organization is critical to establishing the culture you want.
The recognition doesn't need to be monetary or complex. Simply recognize people who are doing things right, and good things will happen.