We often talk about culture as the way things are done at work – the behaviours and outcomes that are expected from employees…but what about how those same people feel about their work and why?
While this data is tricky to survey, a recent study set out to unpack the key elements of creating a supportive culture. Put another way – what diferentiates ‘average’ from ‘awesome’ when it comes to a great team?
The people the author spoke to for the answer are carers – a group who repeatedly put their own needs aside to ensure others are looked after. During the Covid-19 pandemic, their work was crucial in protecting the most vulnerable amongst us. These workers were asked to identify what characteristics of their team motivate them to ‘do what they do’ each day, day in and day out, even it when it gets difficult.
The study is an excellent reminder that for teams to do great work; they need to feel great too… but if you’re pressed for time – read our summary below…
Element 1 - Team cohesiveness
Not surprisingly, these workers identified team cohesion as key to motivation. “Cohesion…helped participants to share their joy and interest in the work as teams brought them closer together – creating a positive spiral between cohesion and motivation.”
As an added benefit, more cohesive teams felt it part of their role to include new starters and help them settle into their role. Participants talked about the benefit of listening to fresh ideas, and establishing “a mutual learning process in which new members and experienced members learn from each other.” Tak about win-win!
Element 2 - Autonomy
Given that many frontline-facing tasks provide the opportunity to create a great customer experience, frontline teams in particular value a degree of control over how to do their job and find it motivating to be able to make decisions about how to manage their work. This also helps employers tap into team memebr initiative and unlock discretionery effort.
Element 3 - Expectations
Are the norms and expectations in your team clear and understood? Are there unspoken rules? Does everyone know what is expected from them each day, and how their contribution adds value to the team and overall business success?
In a supportive culture with clear expectations, employees can easily see the value that they add, and will feel more confident in taking ownership for outcomes – and taking ownership produces a greater sense of ‘autonomy’, further fuelling a great team experience.
Element 4 - Development
“It’s boring to work when you don’t develop, when you don’t learn new things” said one participant – and who wants to be bored at work? The study found that investment in development opportunities makes people feel valued, and motivates them to put their new skills to work. It also concluded that it was important to receive regular feedback, with almost all frontline employees in the study saying they would appreciate more feedback than they currently received.
Focus on one, focus on all
The most encouraging thing about this study was that these elements actually interact. According to analysis of the study, if any one of these factors was strengthened, the other factors were also strengthened.
Organisational culture is the foundation that everyone and everything in a company stands on - is your cultural strong enough to support all that?