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The past few months have put our collective ingenuity and determination to the test in innumerable ways. How quickly can we introduce new things? With a new delivery model, will our business be sustainable? When employees are out of the office, can we trust them to do their job?
Remote work was put to the test in a spontaneous global work experiment. According to our observations, it works – especially for companies in which mutual trust is deeply rooted.
Companies with a “we” culture – an ethos that values collaboration, innovation, compassion, and a “we're all together” mindset – have continued to grow despite the challenges of COVID-19.
Here you can find out how to build a "we" culture in your company.
Related Topics: Six Tactics To Improve Collaboration For Remote Teams
1. Allow people to emerge as their whole selves all the time
Everyone thinks about many different things every day, and the reality is that many people cannot completely separate all of these things into work and non-work. Trusting that people will emerge as their whole selves is to believe that they are doing what is right for them to be the best employees and people. That could mean taking a break from a run, tending to a sick child, logging the early hours of the morning to get a report on time, or taking comp time after a long day.
When you trust your employees to show up as a whole, you will see the more chaotic parts of their lives. Children are shown on Zoom calls. Dogs bark. Someone may come to a morning session with their hair wet during breakfast. We are not robots. We can still focus on the task at hand even when we are dealing with other parts of life. We're designed to think about all of these things and still do a good job. We can have lives away from our desks and still focus on our work.
When you trust that you have hired the best person for a particular job, let them decide how best to get that job done with their current life. This demonstration of radical acceptance and trust in your people – at the same time recognizing the difficult and the good, and being ready to embrace it – begins with building a culture where people feel valued for who they are, rather than being chair-filling, expendable Resources to exist.
Related: The Antidote To A Toxic Culture Is A Culture Of Trust – How To Build One
2. Trust each other to make decisions together
In a "we" culture, the decision-making table is intentionally open. Executives welcome different inputs and mindsets to spot blind spots and offer new ways of thinking. The amount of collaboration and input from employees depends on the company. Still, there should be mutual trust that the best decision will be made after listening and weighing up.
Creating a culture of trust is a counterculture in many ways. Trust is a journey that requires effort and patience on both sides. Confidence can be two steps forward and one step back – or two forward, one to the right, and three diagonally. It's not always easy, but a "we" culture is anchored in this core tenet: We believe that people want to do their best job, and we trust each other to do it.
When leaders and employees work together to reflect on possible outcomes, based on the belief that everyone is working together to do their best job, it helps alleviate the tension that otherwise arises after a decision is announced, but you weren't thinking of me . And even when a mistake is made, the "we" culture creates a space for collaboration to correct course and avoid blame as you move forward together.
Related: 7 Inspirational Traits of Compassionate Leadership
3. Create space for creativity and calm.
Nobody can be on all the time – especially when we are all in a constant state of adjustment that we have been experiencing for months. When we are all learning new ways of working and doing as much as possible in the short time windows, it is important to find time to rest.
A constant state of innovation is not sustainable. Promoting calmness recognizes your team's needs and enables them to choose the best ways in which to recharge for their work and general wellbeing.
In the typical office setting, it was easy to take a short break between meetings or get an intestinal check-up from a colleague while you top up your coffee. Big ideas don't always come about in the planned time. In a remote working environment, we need to intentionally create moments for small resets.
Help employees save time to be creative, move their bodies, and step away from their screens. Our body and mind benefit from the inspiration we find through rest.
4. Be better than before.
A "we" culture specifically creates space for learning and growth. In survival mode, learning and growth can go out of the window. Yet learning and growth are critical to adaptation and innovation.
Give people the space to review their definitions of success and growth, both for themselves and for their roles. Discuss success beyond cash numbers. Find out what motivates people to improve themselves.
Related Topics: How To Create A Learning Culture In The Workplace
Encourage progress beyond perfection. Acknowledge that everyone is constantly learning. Help your employees make time to study. It doesn't even have to be a topic that deals directly with business. Some organizations give people a day off to learn about social justice, explore a passion project, or pursue a professional development topic of their choice.
Ultimately, committed and eager learners benefit from the company, not just the individuals themselves.
When we encourage people to be authentic, to trust and value their opinions, and to give them the space to rest, learn and grow, we begin to build a "we" culture. A "we" culture cares about people (not just employees) and enables your business to grow regardless of the circumstances.
This article was co-written by Kristen Rhoads, Aileron People Engagement Manager.