When I do consulting for businesses, I typically find that if there are big problems in the company that feel unsolvable, a lot of it goes back to having a negative, disempowering team culture. If you do not have a good company culture, your company either won’t last, or won’t be able to reach its full potential. Any changes you make will only be superficial – in no amount of time, another issue will pop up to take the place of the issue you just worked to solve. So, when I start consulting with companies, my first task is to rebuild the company culture from one of low morale to one of high morale. This starts with the leaders.
Whatever problems you are facing, if you do not have a positive culture, this must be restored first. A strong team connection is vital in order to successfully overcome any other issues. This will be a process and may take days or even years, but every step helps! If your team is suffering from low morale, here are the five steps to start with, that I believe need to be in place in order to get back on track:
Step 1: Discover where and what the disconnections are. You might feel these in yourself, in the belief systems you hold (e.g. that micromanaging is a good approach), in conflicts with other leaders, or countless other issues. At the core this always has to do with relationships. It may require some work to uncover the disconnections, but if a company isn’t doing well, the disconnections will be there. If you are not sure where they are, ask a trusted team member (or team members) to help by giving you feedback on what they think might be going on. They may be aware of things you are not aware of, and may simply be waiting for you to start the conversation. Listen non-defensively and try to get to the core of the relational issues going on. Some questions to consider are the following: Do people feel unsafe? Do people feel controlled and shut down? Are certain people (yourself included) unable to hear constructive feedback? Are you (or someone else on the team) modeling disconnection to the rest of the team or certain team members? Is there a pattern of avoiding problems or dealing too aggressively with them? Do you have the wrong people and personalities on the team that do not fit with your desired team culture?
Step 2: Identify your part in the disconnection or negative behavior. What did you contribute or fail to contribute? How did you react that was destructive? Do others feel that you are untrustworthy? Regardless of what anyone else did, you must take responsibility for anything you contributed and model that, so other people feel safe to do the same. Taking responsibility and taking steps to address your contribution is the only way to truly bring restoration. Your actions are the only things you have full power over, and so by owning a part of the problem, you are guaranteed to provide a solution to part of the problem. This relational action towards restoration opens up others to take the same step, and often, the whole issue can be resolved, but you have to take that step.
Step 3: Own up to your contribution and express your hopes for the future. My friend Danny Silk calls this, “cleaning up your mess.” Ask the person you have conflict with to coffee or a meeting just to connect, and be vulnerable about wanting to restore that connection. It may feel hard, but it is truly the only way you have a chance to change things. In the meeting, say something to the effect of; “I really did not like you, but I figured out why, and a lot of it is my fault. I want to work on communicating with you in a more respectful way. I am going to work on seeing what is good in you and focusing on that.” Then, follow through with your commitment. This tactic can end decades of disconnection.
Step 4: Be willing to repent or apologize for wrongs you have done. Put it out on the table honestly. Contrary to what some believe, doing this is very connecting. Most of the time, others already know you have messed up, and if you are not willing to say sorry, you are no longer trustworthy to them. They feel you do not care, or that you do not see what they see, which causes them to mistrust you. If you express how you can imagine they were impacted, they feel much safer with you going forward.
Step 5: Make a decision to move forward. This is the most important step! If the first four happen, but someone holds bitterness or resentment, they hold the person and the team captive from moving on. Start with a clean slate and do not be tempted into bringing the negative issue up again.
A positive company culture is based on honor: the ability to see what is good in others. We are each made in the image of God, so that is what we must look for in those around us. Honor could also be defined as the art of stewarding relationships well. Both these definitions are important anchors to have while looking to restore a positive, powerful team culture!
If you would like more information on this topic and have not yet read the other blogs in this series, you can see the other blogs by clicking here! This concludes the series, but it may be helpful to look back on previous blogs about how to identify a negative team culture, the ways you will benefit from a positive team culture, and 9 steps to create a positive team culture.
I would love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Please never hesitate to get in touch or find more business tips and ideas at BobHasson.com! If you are interested in receiving one-on-one consulting, you can fill out this form on my website.