We hear a lot of talk about company culture, and within a service management organization, each team has its own culture, too. The important thing as a manager is to make sure a service management team culture is a positive one and that it is congruent with the organization’s culture.
"Culture" is often considered an intangible factor in the work environment. It can’t easily be measured in a concrete way although it can be evaluated. What is interesting is that great companies routinely monitor and evaluate their team culture, knowing that a positive culture generates motivated employees who contribute more to the success of a company than almost anything else.
And if a change is needed to bring the team back on course, redeveloping the service management team culture can create the most profound and long-lasting impact. Powerful, winning team cultures have five barometers:
Community Spirit. When a team has community spirit, everyone within the team genuinely wants to help each other to achieve a level of success for the entire team. This helps create a strong sense of belonging to something greater than themselves.
Resilient Desire to Help. Great team members have a resilient desire to truly help the customer they are communicating with to solve their issue That includes helping fellow members of their team who are engaged in solving an issue for a customer, improving a process, or trying to meet a work goal. This drive to make things better for the customer builds bridges across service lines and can win and retain customers for the long term. Additionally, helping other team members can build and reinforce an incredibly positive element of the team’s culture.
Clear and Compelling Purpose. When a team has a clear and compelling sense of purpose, every team member knows why he or she is there and even more importantly, why others care that they are in place. This clear sense of purpose often translates across the organization.
Mindset of Continual Growth. Great companies have a mindset to continually gain knowledge and personal growth, from the top position downward. Team members who have this mindset as well often stay at the top of their game; they’re confident enough to take calculated risks to achieve the results that the team is striving toward.
Optimistic Attitude. A team with a great culture manifests an optimistic attitude. It’s not a "Pollyana" fantasy, rather, it’s the recognition that optimism creates a world of new possibilities. In other words, they recognize and focus on what they can do versus what they cannot do.
If you can evaluate all five of these areas positively, congratulations! That’s a great team culture, and a great culture equals healthy team results.
Of course, not every team gets high marks in all five areas. There’s always room for improvement, even among teams that are getting along well and moving forward.
There’s always room for improvement, even among teams that are getting along well and moving forward.
How do you know whether a team needs a culture shift? It’s often easy to tell, even without employing the tools above. Great service management teams are always looking for ways to improve what they did the day before and not resting on the successes of yesterday. When just one element of the culture is out of place or missing, the team doesn’t hum along smoothly and may even have trouble reaching its objectives.
Imagine a Formula One race car, a finely tuned machine designed to operate on very specific, smooth track surfaces. Now, take away the race track and imagine that car trying to move through unpaved, sandy desert. It doesn’t perform as well when just that one variable is changed. In this case, the car spins up a lot of sand, makes a lot of commotion, and gets nowhere. Likewise, a team may struggle when just one of those five areas of culture is not as evident. For example, not having a clear understanding of their purpose within the company or for their customers, or not being able to grow personally by having the opportunity to add to their knowledge.
Shifting that culture begins at the top with the team leader. There are four key components to helping turn a team’s culture around:
Recognize needs. Gauge the team culture and recognize if a problem exists and what precisely needs to change. Always remember that awareness brings effectiveness.
Relaunch like a rocket. Just as turning an 1,100-foot aircraft carrier takes significantly more time than turning a 20-foot bass fishing boat around, an authentic culture shift takes time, especially with a large team or organization. Generating the momentum to start and sustain the agency of change will help put a team on track.
Be a strong leader. While it’s great to be the laid-back manager sometimes and let the team take initiative and perform, it isn’t the best persona to have when initiating change. Leadership must be purposeful, effective, and inspiring during this time.
Set systems in place. Make sure the changes stick by adjusting processes or implementing new systems, new ways of doing things within the service management team that will support the new team culture being fostered. I like to call this "making an in-flight correction." This is not only possible but is very do-able when you continually gauge the team’s culture and recognize issues as they arise.
Again, leading the team is essential. That means being more hands-on, day to day, making sure that objectives are being met. It does not mean becoming a micro-manager. Consider having an additional meeting or changing the format of a regularly scheduled meeting to focus on how changes are being implemented.
When large organizations need to make changes from the top, they often create a culture leadership task force. To set up your own task force, appoint key personnel to manage the transformation process. This group acts as a conduit between leadership and the service management team and handles issues like communication, project assignments, improving team chemistry and managing compensation. Even better, this allows the work team to continue working day-to-day toward goals or helping customers, as incremental changes are made. Service management teams can create a task force of their own to make changes at the team level. In some cases, it might be necessary to rebuild team culture from the ground up by changing the focus of the team or re-aiming teams toward the greater organizational purpose.
Tech company Adobe did away with ratings in evaluating employees, instead letting team members set their own goals, with managers acting as coaches. Outdoor company REI makes sure its employees immerse themselves in the company culture by having them participate in outdoor events, suggest new events, and give feedback to senior directors on what’s going on at their stores.
Atlassian, creator of Jira open source software, set aside four "ShipIt Days" per year, during which employees drop their normal work and spend 24 hours working on any creative project that they want. "Be the change you seek" is built into Atlassian’s model, part of the culture change it initiated six years after its founders started the business.
All of the team cultures above are built into the core of these successful companies. In some cases, the company made changes to improve its team members’ morale, motivation, and sense of purpose. In others, the culture was built in from the beginning. One only needs to have a clear vision of what a service management provider can offer to the world in a positive manner to begin implementing a strong team culture. Remember, at the end of the day, culture is core.
Gregg Gregory is America's teambuilding mastermind, specializing in building winning cultures at every organizational level. A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) with more than 35 years working at all levels within in corporate America, Gregg has delivered more than 2,000 keynotes and teambuilding trainings to more than 500 companies in the past 20 years. Named an HDI Top 25 Thought Leader in 2017, his expertise and articles have appeared in hundreds of business and trade publications, including SellingPower.com, Boardroom Magazine, and Drake Business Review. Follow Gregg and Teams Rock on Twitter @TeamsRock, Facebook, and LinkedIn.