Don’t let the wrong team culture destroy your hard work

Instilling the right culture is crucial to building an effective marketing team, and will allow you to recruit and retain the best talent

The importance of having the right team culture is usefully illustrated by the current plight of football club Leicester City. 

Crowned Premier League champions last May, the team was feted as a model of the benefits of teamwork and a strong team culture. But fast forward to this week and the team has sacked its manager Claudio Ranieri amid rumours of player unrest and faces a fight against relegation from the top flight.

“Culture can make or break you,” Microsoft UK CMO Scott Allen told the audience at InTech 2017. “The wrong culture means you will lose employees as quickly as you have gained them,” he added. “The right culture means you will keep them, develop them and nurture them. But most importantly you will attract new talent. People will want to join the organisation and stay.”

So how can you instil a team culture that is both strong and sustainable? Our free guide on How to build, nurture and retain the ultimate marketing team provides some pointers.

Understanding your current team culture

You’ll definitely need buy-in from HR when it comes to getting a handle on your existing culture – whether that be of the wider business or your team itself. There are a number of tools you can use to do this, some of which are listed below.

  • Pulse surveys: These give a good snapshot of how people are feeling in an organisation, with quantitative questions used to measure engagement.
  • Net promoter score (NPS): Questions include: ‘How highly would you recommend this organisation to friends and family on a scale of 1 to 10?’ Those who give low scores are detractors (rather than positive-scoring promoters) and they are the people you need to focus on feeling more engaged. Do think about who the ‘culture carriers’ are in your organisation. These won’t necessarily be senior individuals, but whoever they are, they’re worth tapping in to.
  • Employee surveys: Use a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions to give a really detailed assessment of the culture of the organisation. Online tools, which you often have to pay for, can benchmark your scores against competitors and give you breakdowns by department so you can easily pick out areas of concern.
  • Focus groups: Run these using a cross-sectional representative of the workforce/department. Ask them to describe what it’s like working for the organisation and allow them to highlight any gripes.
  • Analyse management information: HR can provide all sorts of useful nuggets such as sickness, attrition and vacancy rates. If a particular department has high levels of sickness absence and a high turnover, it’s likely the culture needs urgent improvement.

What makes a strong team and organisational culture?

Common themes emerge among the most successful organisations, neatly identified by Gerry Johnson, chair of strategic management at Lancaster University Management School.

  • The paradigm: What the organisation is about, what it does, its mission, its values.
  • Control systems: The processes in place to monitor what is going on.
  • Organisational structures: Reporting lines, hierarchies, and the way the work flows through the business.
  • Power structures: Who makes the decisions, how widely spread is power, and on what is power based?
  • Symbols: These include organisational logos and designs, but also extend to office locations and parking spaces.
  • Rituals and routines: Management meetings, board reports and events.
  • Stories and myths: These build up about people and events, and convey a message about what is valued within the organisation.

Introducing and embedding change

Changing culture is never easy, but there are some simple steps you can take to increase your chances of success.

  • Build a rational and emotional case for a culture change; highlight the advantages from an employee and wider business point of view.
  • Clarify your vision for a new culture, and within that, associated values, processes and behaviours.
  • Always link behaviours to business objectives. Communicate this vision to the wider team to ensure buy-in.
  • Demonstrate impact quickly: everyone loves a quick win.
  • Embed change through ensuring senior colleagues are on side.
  • Consider the role of performance management, learning and development, and retention programmes in your overall vision (this will be most likely be HR’s remit, but definitely worth bearing in mind).

How to build, nurture and retain the ultimate marketing team

The strength of the marketers you work with is often the deciding factor for the success of your efforts. It's imperative, therefore, to have the best team possible all working to their full potential. This free guide will show you exactly how to do it.

Download your free copy now