Remember when you were a team of one? Maybe you still are… Let’s assume your company has grown since then, but since YOU were the business, much of how things got done was based on your preferences, beliefs and actions. You were the company and you defined and role modeled the culture, but as you grew and hired talent to help serve the evolving needs of the customer, things started to change. Those new folks helped shape the culture and the company continued to grow…
Now with business changing so rapidly, you’re hiring new leaders to help transform the company. They’re optimistic and want to make things bigger and better. They want to make an immediate impact and have BIG ideas about what needs to be done. They don’t have bad intentions, but they could create a culture shock.
Make sure to avoid these fatal flaws of a growing company…
- Unconsciously hiring more of the same
In its most simplistic terms, Culture is: “How we do things around here…” and since you were the business, most of that has to do with your personality. When you interview your next leaders, it’s easy to default into selecting people just like you, but growth requires that you hire to your weaknesses.
Unconscious bias refers to the natural tendency for us to relate and connect more with people who are just like us. It’s easy to do because if we could just duplicate ourselves, then life would be perfect, right? But we must remember, that we can’t fix old problems with the same ways of thinking that created them.
If you are a hard-charging, take action leader, who believes you’re the smartest person in the room, then you might want to hire people who are supportive and urgent in their approach to compliment you. They would be excited to follow your lead and help you achieve the mission.
But if you let unconscious bias creep in, you could default to hire another hard-charging, take action person who thinks they are the smartest person in the room. While this person may jump-start the team into action, there will inevitably be a dogfight down the road as the new leader fights to establish their own territory and prove their value.
- Focusing only on what’s NOT working
Because the pace of business is insane, it’s easy to gloss over what’s working and focus only on what is broken. Take a moment to think about your team meetings. Do you start with what is NOT working or do you take a moment to celebrate what IS working?
It doesn’t have to be some long drawn out celebration. I’m talking about, shifting from an “All this is broken” meeting to a “We’ve made some great strides this week and I’d like to recognize…” conversation.
With responsibilities being so demanding, that if we don’t take time to celebrate our successes, we could feel deflated by all of the challenges, stressors and problems. Taking time to recognize the extra effort of your team members will help fill them up and highlight the actions they’re doing that are driving the business forward. Focusing to much on what is broken can force good people to avoiding taking the extra effort needed to be successful.
- Engaging employees too late
Your people are smarter than you think. If you’ve aligned your leadership team and clarified your goals, then it’s time to engage employees in the journey. Don’t think that you need to have 100 percent of the HOW set in stone before you engage your people.
Honestly, you are one person and having a diverse team will help round out your perspective, but employees are the frontline to the customer and might have a totally different perspective. If you don’t ask their input early in the design process, you could be creating an unwinnable game for them and for you!
People joined the company because of YOU, your VISION and the STORY you sold them. They want to help you become successful, but if you can’t avoid these fatal flaws, you could be setting yourself up in an unwinnable game.
Remember, if you know your strengths, you’ll come to learn your weaknesses. Once you have that awareness, you can hire leaders to compliment your strengths and avoid unconscious bias. Then as you leverage your diverse team, you will allow them to grow and bloom by focusing on what IS working, so you can tackle the what’s NOT working with a feeling of accomplishment. Then, with a renewed attitude, it’s time to engage employees and leverage their ideas to help overcome the daily challenges to growth.
Make sure to avoid these three fatal flaws to avoid creating a culture shock and you’ll be on your way to creating a Hero Culture.
Michael Hahn is an international speaker and culture expert. He consults with senior leaders seeking to maximize organizational culture and employee engagement. His clients include Allstate Insurance, Advanced Resources, and CareerBuilder. He is the author of “Hero Habits: The Guide to Thriving in Corporate America and in Life“, and you can reach him at 630-220-9628 or MichaelHahnSpeaker.com.