Is your work culture the best it can be? As a COO, your answer is no. There should always be something you’re striving for, something that you can do to elevate your company.
When discussing how to grow a business, Greig Clark once said, “Building a great company means creating something that is slightly more than a business and slightly less than a religion.”
The best workplaces have a culture that brings people together.
While your CEO may set the culture tone for your company, as COO and part of the leadership team, you must be committed to supporting and fulfilling that vision before you can ask your people to be.
There are a lot of things you can do to build a world-class culture—the physical space, cultivating a thriving social environment, instilling a sense of ownership in each employee—but there are three more areas you need to focus on if you really want to elevate it.
Energy and Culture
Positive energy is powerful and contagious. Fill your workplace with positive energy and your employees will be happier and far more productive. Once you allow negative energy to creep into your culture, it’s no surprise that you’ll quickly be a witness to petty squabbles and gossip.
This concept might seem a bit strange to COOs considering your CEO is likely the more expressive one of the two of you. You don’t have to act like someone you’re not, but you do need to set the energy level for those who work for you in whatever way aligns with your personality. Positive energy doesn’t mean jumping around and smiling 24/7, but it still does require some effort on your part.
“A strong leader knows how to build teams where members inspire one another. Through team-building activities, leading by example and reinforcing core values, managers can help their team soar to new heights!” – COO Alliance
At the end of each day, ask yourself, “What did I do today to raise the energy level of my team?” Make it a goal for each day.
Power and Culture
You don’t have to demand a world-class culture with an iron fist as a COO. You don’t need to do it by playing petty games like raising your seat so you tower above anyone who meets in your office either. Rather, endeavor to make your meetings more powerful. Meetings are basically microcosms of your entire work culture. Guess what long, fruitless, boring meetings say about that? Or what kind of culture they create?
“As the leader in your company, you must role model the behavior you want others to emulate.” – Inc
Alternatively, a vibrant, efficient, focused meeting turns what is often the worst part of someone’s workday into an actual productive event. Can you imagine what kind of effect that has on the workplace culture your leadership team is trying to build?
Authenticity and Culture
Every company strives to build a different kind of culture, whether it’s one of innovation, fun, or even growth. To do this, a COO needs to get buy-in from their team members. For that to happen, the entire process has to be organic and authentic.
“Simply put, people are more likely to follow the lead of those they like. The best leaders are well-spoken, approachable and friendly. They show sincere care for others.” – Forbes
Trying to motivate your team can come off as forced or awkward especially if you aren’t a peppy type of leader. Instead, find people in your organization who are suitably enthusiastic and get their help to rally your troops.
Maybe you’re good with large groups or maybe you feel more comfortable mentoring employees one-on-one. You might revel in hoisting a few pints with your team after work on Friday or you might prefer treating them to coffee once in a while. Motivate them in ways that are authentic to you. People can tell if what you’re trying to do isn’t authentic.
Every COO needs to work towards a culture fit for their morals, standards, and strengths. The best leaders don’t put on a face or play a character, they’re simply themselves and people are drawn to that behavior. That’s how leaders create cultures that elevate them and their team.
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.