Why Collaboration is Key to Creating a Culture of Values
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
"It takes two flints to make a fire." - Louisa May Alcott
Work culture has changed.
Employee expectations have changed.
How business leaders adapt to these changes is crucial to ongoing success.
The opportunity for reactivity provisioned by traditional working practice is eroding. Management styles are evolving, employees want different conditions and so the culture begins to take on a new dynamic.
And to be clear, we are talking about a culture of values. Purpose. And meaning. Not a culture for culture’s sake.
At Lucent, we’ve worked remotely for some time. Not necessarily from home itself, but invariably. To support us, we’ve embraced tools set up specifically for life outside the office.
We quickly realised the need to adapt the processes and methodologies we’d grown accustomed to throughout our headquartered recruitment careers. We understood that for our evolving business to thrive, we had to want to learn how to collaborate. Because when teams collaborate effectively, they produce new ideas and innovative solutions that can surpass business objectives.
Many leaders find collaboration tough. But as Rachael Madduxm communications executive at world-renowned automated marketing platform MailChimp says, “Collaboration isn’t something to dread. Life and work are made better by letting other folks in.”
The cadence of Lucent’s collaboration has almost certainly shaped our culture, and whilst the regularity might, in part, be determined by our individual commitments, we have put alliance at the top of our agenda. In fact, when developing our culture deck, we decided to rename it our ‘collaboration deck’.
Collaboration – communicating for the common cause – has helped engrave our values and crafted our culture.
For some, there is a misapprehension around culture; a feeling that somehow this derives from the ‘perks’ of a meditation room, free coffee, ‘dress down’ Friday. But it’s not. Culture is defined by the actions and behaviours of people. Take a moment to observe your organisation and you will no doubt identify how your culture has become what it is, and by whom it’s been created.
When it comes to working together to create a culture of values that everyone buys into, a framework can be useful.
Some companies develop detailed presentations outlining their plans: the culture, vision, mission, values, behaviour codes and expectations. And some companies create a storm in doing so.
When Sheryl Sandberg described Netflix’s Freedom and Responsibility Culture Deck as “one of the most important documents to come out of Silicon Valley”, business leaders flocked to read and, where they could, replicate it.
In 2014 the Harvard Business Review published a feature by Netflix’s then CTO, Patty McCord, in which she outlined the premise of the media giant’s collaboration. Pointing to performance, she said:
“Many years ago, we eliminated formal reviews. We had held them for a while but came to realize they didn’t make sense—they were too ritualistic and too infrequent. So, we asked managers and employees to have conversations about performance as an organic part of their work. In many functions—sales, engineering, product development—it’s obvious how well people are doing. And as companies develop better analytics to measure performance, this becomes even truer.
Building a bureaucracy and elaborate rituals around measuring performance usually doesn’t improve it.”
The desire for human connection is greater than ever. As face-to-face human interaction diminishes, so people’s need a sense of belonging and community is heightened. And this is as true in the workplace as it is recreationally.
Of course, a business’ Culture Deck is subjective, and whilst Netflix’s famous example transcends, it’s premise and principles may not align yours.
Indeed, ours is unique to us. We share it with all new hires and ensure ongoing transparency with employees. References include:
Structure of a typical week
Time management expectations and freedom around this
Togetherness and internal relationship-building
If you don’t have a culture deck, now is the time to develop one. Communicating with prospective and current employees and giving a sense of community is more important than ever.
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." - Henry Ford
Our top tips to collaboration in the workplace:
Get team members into the collaboration mindset
Create an inclusive environment
Make meetings more efficient
Prioritise process an accountability
Don’t panic when things go wrong
And Lucent’s values?
Empathy. Honesty. Consistency. Innovation. Integrity. Fun.