I volunteer to lead a team for a local non-profit a number of days per week. One of the biggest things our team strives to do is to make sure those who are in first time attendance feel exceptionally welcome. We don’t blow off other people, but we put extraordinary effort on the first timers. I do everything I can to help perpetuate this culture of gratitude, joy and hospitality. This culture is the currency that makes us a successful team.
This past week there was a gentleman, who isn’t involved in our organization (the proverbial outsider) that made a comment about our team. He said, “You guys are the friendliest group of people I have ever met!” I was so thrilled to hear him say this. He said he is involved with another organization, but told me “If you get a hi, you’re doing well. His exact words were, “You guys are doing something right.” I was beaming with pride for our team and this will become a part of our talking points for the team over the next few weeks.
This exchange underscores a very important aspect for any organization, for profit or non-profit. Your leadership, culture and level of engagement will be painfully obvious to people outside of your organization. It will develop the perception of your brand to potential customers and investors.
We have spent a considerable amount of time and effort getting to this place. The size of the team is over 20 people and we don’t yet have 100% participation at the level we would like to have, but it’s getting there.
Here are a few important things we did to make sure we were successful to move in this direction.
- Define your culture – Just like setting a goal, it has to be specific. If you just say our goal is to get “better”, you will never know when you’re there. Culture is no different. We made it a point to know what were the key indicators of achieving the culture we wanted. What would be the natural result of it?
- Assign role responsibility – Just knowing what you want isn’t good enough. There has to be specific people who are responsible for specific tasks that result in specific outcomes. This area of leadership must be focused and held to an accountability standard that is impeccable. It is when everyone does their little bit that the whole begins to come together.
- Understand good engagement – Many times we do quite well to define the culture and assign roles to leadership. Where the problem creeps in is that we view engagement as this external object that must somehow attach itself to the culture and leadership aspect of things. If you build it, they will come. Not going to happen. You HAVE to know what an engaged individual will be doing. How they will respond to things. How do you support the culture when you are challenging and correcting people regarding engagement issues? These things have to be thought out before-hand.