TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Establishing a Meaningful & Attractive Team Culture

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By Debbie Holloway, Head of Team+ Coaching

Deciding to build a team is easy. Deciding how to structure your team and onboarding agents is easy. The most difficult part of building and sustaining a profitable team boils down to one thing… culture.

Now here’s the catch – many of the components of building a team are system based, but culture is not.

Culture is basically the “vibe” of your office… that spirit that inspires agents and employees, bonding them together in pursuit of a common goal.

Let’s dive in to how to create a great team culture!

Why Agents Choose Where They Work

Five thousand agents were surveyed and asked this question: “What is the number one reason you chose the company or team that you work with?” The categories to select from were brand, coaching, commission, culture and leadership. The answers may surprise you:

  • #5, the least most important to these agents, was brand
  • #4 was commission (which is interesting since so many of us feel people make the decision based on their commission)
  • #3 was the leadership
  • #2 was coaching (which I believe is more important now than ever. If you’re going to build a team, you and the team should have a coach)
  • #1 was culture

So how do we create a great culture? It’s actually more about who you are, your vision, your goals, and your mission than it is what you do.

What’s Your Vision?

Do you have a vision statement? Do you have a mission statement? Are you clear on your core values?

If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking this is a bunch of bananas and you don’t need these things to build a great team.

Don’t make the same mistake I did and blow this part off because you don’t need to be rebuilding your team every time you screw it up. Ninety percent of the people who want to start building a team think the same thing you are likely thinking right now and screw it up.

Let’s do it right so you can have the business and life that you want.

Where Are You Headed & Why?

Successful leaders know their purpose and why they are leading – they have an unmovable vision of where they’re headed. A vision is bigger than the leader and it’s also clear, easy to articulate and inspiring.

A clear vision sets the tone for your team as it carries a sense of urgency and accountability. A vision aligns with your goals and efforts, so your team knows implicitly what’s expected of them. A vision is also communicated consistently and daily – it is a fixed principle that unifies and only changes with great care.

When interviewing candidates for your team, check to see if their values match the team’s values. When values of new members are out of alignment, the team is going to be disrupted.

Values are a part of a person’s makeup and personality; they can’t be taught. When everyone on the team is on the same page and understands the common workplace values, then everyone will be much more likely to move toward their common purpose without complaint or frustration.

Why a Vision Statement is a Must

A vision statement is a declaration of an organization’s objectives, ideally based on economic foresight, intended to guide its internal decision-making and should be developed using the team’s core values. It is different from a mission statement (more below) in that it addresses the “how” and “why” of your team while the mission statement addresses the “what” and “who.” Like core values, your vision statement must be articulated by the team itself, not just the team leader.

The Vision Statement is inspirational and gives team members direction toward long term objectives (five-, 10- and 15-year plans). It provides a future statement that aligns workforce behaviors to the vision and promotes change under the right direction and guidance.

Here are a couple examples of a Vision Statement:

Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

Tom Ferry Team+: To help 1,000 teams worldwide build their business by design.

How’s that Different Than a Mission Statement?

Your mission statement is a statement about what needs to be accomplished now (or in one to three years), rather than the vision statement, which speaks only to the long-term future of the organization. The mission statement answers the “WHO” and “WHAT” of your team.

As with the vision statement, team members must be able to embody and articulate the mission statement so it feels like the team’s strategy for success. The trick is to not make the mission statement cliché, generic or meaningless.

Typically a mission statement is around 10 words.

Your mission statement should answer these fundamental questions:

  • What do we do right for our clients?
  • Who do we do it for?
  • How do we do what we do best?

After these three questions are answered, the mission statement can be written out in three or four sentences with all of these areas addressed:

  • What markets are we serving?
  • How do we provide solutions for our clients’ problems?
  • What kind of environment do we want to create for our team members?

As an example, my Tom Ferry Team+ mission statement is “Our mission is to bring leaders what they need to build a real estate dynasty – people, processes, profits – to stay in front of trends and changes affecting teams, while providing a community of support and idea sharing.”

Don’t Forget About Core Values

Core values are named “core values” because they reflect the principles you stand for, deep within your organization. Identifying them publicly helps shape how your team or company is perceived. Core values can also serve as guidelines for your agents and employees to question their behavior… with clearly established values, it’s easy for people to ask, “Does what I’m doing fit within our core values?”

If you have 12 people on your team and they don’t understand and embody the team’s core values, then you have 12 independent people, not 12 team members. These 12 people may think they are making strong contributions to the team, but their contributions and vision may not be what the team leader wants or needs.

For a team to operate as a truly efficient unit, even with 12 team members who have diverse skills, all must share the common core team values. For example, if honesty above all else is a core team value, then when decisions are made as to how to approach clients with specific issues, the actions that embody honesty will be chosen.

Strong Core Values Makes Everything Easier

With strong core values, your team is better prepared for hiring the right people, firing those who don’t fit your core values and it is easier to manage behaviors.

Think of core values as what you do when no one is watching. Core values provide consistency as well as the guiding principles of team and organization behavior. From core values, a team can then create its vision and mission statements.

Here are examples of workplace core values:

  • Accountability
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Making a difference
  • Being a team
  • Showing tolerance
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Focusing on details
  • Doing your best
  • Being organized and prepared
  • Delivering the best quality work

These are examples of core value sentences you can use:

  1. We accept personal responsibility for our actions. (honesty, accountability)
  2. We speak up for the greater good whenever possible in all situations. (helping others, doing your best)
  3. When we make mistakes, we will be open about them and learn from them. (honesty, admitting mistakes)

Treasure Davis is one of my coaching clients who runs an amazing team in Colorado Springs. Alongside her team, she created their core values. They decided that Charity was paramount in who they were, so these became their core values as a team:

  • Confidence
  • Honesty
  • Adaptability
  • Resilient
  • Innovative
  • Teamwork
  • Yes Minded

When “life happens” and it will, by having core values you can stop and ask yourself, “Does this ACTION support the stated core values of our team?”

Once you’ve created your core values, vision and mission statements, communicate them to your clients, customers and prospects. All team hiring and firing should be based on these. Your team growth and success will be exponentially greater because you will be delivering quality in a competitive market based on these guiding principles.

Next month – let’s take a look at how we can create a culture that is fun and profitable.

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