Business Success Series: Team and Culture

Welcome back to our seven-part Business Success Series- a comprehensive guide designed specifically for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners who are committed to achieving their business goals and overcoming challenges.   

How team and culture impacts business success

So far, I’ve discussed the importance of having the right mindset, why it’s critical for businesses to have Purpose, Values and Goals, key elements of securing Profitability and Cashflow, and why Sales and Marketing are central elements to successful businesses. Next up, I’m going to focusing on the importance of having the right team and culture.

Strong businesses are built on the foundations of a great team. Whether this consists of internal employees, external partners or a combination of both, its importance is undeniable. 

Before we jump into the intricacies of the role that having the right team and culture plays, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you ever get the feeling that people in your team just don’t get what the business is about?  
  • Do you feel as though you’re hitting a wall when speaking to your team?  
  • Does it feel as though some people are in the wrong seats? 

If you’re answering ‘yes’ to the above, then you are not alone in the world of business- but it’s important that you address these challenges quickly before they become fatal to your business. 

The importance of having a great team: 

Business owners should be viewed as not only managers but also as leaders who people look up in the professional world. It’s important for this person to have the management skills required to keep their team motivated and looking towards the bigger picture.  

To build and maintain a great team there are lots of things that you must get right. As businesses grow, problems often magnify and raise stress levels which ultimately effect all aspects of business performance. Many business owners fail to deal with this- so I’m going to look at how to ensure that this isn’t the case for you. 

I’ve personally seen many businesses demonstrate a big divide between the owner(s) and the team and most of the time this can be boiled down to the frequency of good communication. 

My experience: 

My own journey since starting at Nordens has made me particularly passionate about this. I joined when I was 19 and right from the start Mark Norden (Founder of Nordens) set out a vision for the business and made it clear to me how I could progress and directly play a part in this. 

This was never just a one-off conversation, and Mark would regularly discuss his vision for Nordens (or ‘Norden and Co’ as it was known back then). In Marks eyes, business advisory had to become front and centre of what we do, and it was crucial to develop our ways of supporting business owners and help them achieve their goals. To only focus on traditional compliance was never going to be enough to make us stand out. 

Mark would come back to this regularly to the extent that it became engrained in me over time and I was as passionate about realising the vision as Mark himself. Through Mark’s guidance, he instilled a belief that if I kept learning, stayed hungry and created my own role within the business, nothing would stop me from achieving anything I put my mind to. By developing our advisory offering and heading up our advisory team, I was ultimately able to prove that Mark’s belief in me was well-founded.  

Having an inclusive team culture: 

Anyone that has listened to one of our webinars before will have probably heard me tell the story about NASA. Shortly before the moon landing the President was doing a tour of the base and approached a cleaner in the hallways. He stopped, and asked him what he does around here, to which the cleaner responded: “I am here to help put a man on the moon”.  

To me, this perfectly illustrates a team culture in which no matter how indirectly, everyone in the organisation believes in the team vision and feels as though they are playing a part in achieving it. 

Assembling the best team: 

Creating a culture that aligns with your vision has to start with brining on likeminded people to your team. It’s not the case that everyone in your team needs to have the same mindset as the business owners, but it’s important to spend enough time with them to find out what motivates them so that you can position your communication in a way that resonates with them.  

The process of putting together the right team begins at the recruitment stage where it is vital to ensure that a person is going to fit into your company culture. I still find that too many interviews are often based purely on technical expertise and experience but in the long run this alone is not going to be enough to create successful teams. 

If your business has the wrong people either for the roles that they fill, or for the company full stop, then it is likely that they are going to contribute to the spread of a toxic atmosphere which can lead to unrest across the organisation. 

One of the most common mistakes in this area is that business owners often magnify the problem by being too loyal to team members that just aren’t right. By retaining poor performing members of their team, both parties are likely to become unhappy in the long run which runs the risk of seriously damaging the success of your company. 

Some ‘stars’ in your organisation will naturally exhibit the traits you need and want, whereas some may need some support and clarity. This can be the difference between them being a complete star, or just coasting and being along for the ride.  

Identifying who is valuable to your team: 

Before making any tough decisions to remove your team members, as the business owner you need to ask yourself some key questions that should give offer reassurance that you’re making the right business decisions: 

  • Have you explained the vision and how their role is essential in contributing to that vision? 
  • Have you been approachable and offered them the necessary support and tools to give them the best chance of carrying out their role appropriately? 
  • Have you spent enough time actively listening to your team, so you understand their perspective on things? 

The last point is particularly important- it’s proven that team members that feel listened to perform significantly better. If you act as a dictator and simply give orders it is likely you will end up with a very disjointed team who don’t respect you as a boss. 

It can sometimes be quite scary to promote and implement other people’s ideas as it could lead to you questioning yourself and your own ability. As a leader you must remove any emotional response to this decision by asking yourself if an idea will successfully move a business closer to its goals. If the answer is yes then it’s a no brainer, and by not choosing to implement it you’ll likely be compromising the businesses success.  

This is why an ideas culture is so important when it comes to the growth of businesses. 

Where to start? 

If you are really struggling with where to start, tools such as DISC analysis are a good starting point for helping you really understand your team members. Be careful not to place complete and total reliance on one tool like this and make sure you keep things into perspective. It’s also important to ensure that as well as learning to understand your team members, you understand yourself too. 

A few years back we did this as a wider team at Nordens, and what I found was eye opening. Not only did I better understand why people in my team did certain things in a certain way, but it allowed me to better understand why I did such things in such a way too, which allowed me to tailor my communication much more effectively. 

Developing your team: 

Alongside outlining the vision and communicating well, you should look to set your team members targets to work towards and a training programme that will allow them to develop. Not only will this make it clearer to your team that both yourself and your business are aware of their own personal goals, but it’ll allow team members to see tangible successes along the way too. 

It may well be the case that some of you reading this already emphasise the happiness within your team- which is a great start. In this case, have a think about the good traits that gel your team and what needs to be done to endure that this doesn’t fall away. If you’re able to reinforce this positive culture and empower your employees to champion the right mindset, progressing towards your goals will become a lot easier and enjoyable. 

If, after reflection, you’re not convinced that your team is gelling together in a way that is going to be conducive to the success of your business, then it’s probably the case that some changes need to be made. In this scenario, having good quality HR advice cannot be emphasised enough. It’s never too early to have solid foundations, especially with HR related rules changing so frequently. 

We understand that this is often such a challenging area for businesses who are looking to grow effectively, which is why we’ll shortly be releasing an interactive workshop as part of our advisory offering. If you’re interested in this, please register your interest and one of our team will be in touch to discuss how this can help with your pathway to success. 

“It’s about getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment, and helping to find a way to innovate.” – Marissa Mayer 

Team and Culture FAQs

1. Why is having the right team and culture important for business success?

Strong businesses are built on great teams, whether internal employees or external partners. A positive team culture fosters collaboration, innovation, and employee satisfaction, leading to improved business performance and success.

2. What role does effective communication play in team dynamics?

Effective communication is crucial for bridging the gap between business owners and the team. Clear communication of the company’s vision, goals, and expectations helps align team members and fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.

3. How can I ensure I assemble the best team for my business?

Creating a strong team starts with recruiting likeminded individuals who align with the company’s vision and culture. Interviews should focus not only on technical expertise but also on cultural fit and motivation to ensure long-term success.

4. How canI identify valuable team members and address performance issues in my business?

Business owners should regularly assess team members’ alignment with the company’s vision and provide necessary support and tools for success. Active listening and promoting an ideas culture fosters engagement and performance improvement.

5. What steps can I take to develop my team and reinforce a positive culture?

Setting clear goals, providing training opportunities, and empowering employees to champion the company’s values and mindset are essential for team development. Investing in HR advice and workshops can help address challenges and foster a culture of growth and success.