As we strive to nurture an inclusive, diverse organization made up of people from different backgrounds and experience, we’re intentionally building an organization comprised of different perspectives that can collaborate to create unique solutions for our clients, as well as a dynamic workplace for our people. This diversity makes us more effective and creative. It helps me, as a leader, weigh all sides of a topic and overcome any personal biases. While there will always be issues we disagree about, we can make sure our teams feel united within our organization. I am committed to this: creating an organization that accepts and welcomes different viewpoints while still maintaining a culture of unity, togetherness and respect.
Below is a summary of tried-and-true steps we’ve taken to curate a unified culture:
Start by demonstrating your team’s value
There are many iterations of the saying “an organization can only be successful if its employees are successful.” Any way you phrase it, it carries an immense amount of truth. Leaders must give their employees plentiful opportunities to grow. And while growth will look different for every employee, these efforts must be unified in the sense that they help the organization achieve its goals. In other words, every employee can grow in his or her own way but has to row the boat in the same direction.
To achieve this sought-after unity, organizations must instill trust and publicly celebrate employees’ contributions and accomplishments. The entire team must understand that every job within the business is valued. Leaders can’t play favorites. Instead, they must acknowledge every team member’s work and commitment. These efforts will go a long way toward eliminating toxic office politics and intrateam competition. Further, the impulse to find differences among colleagues will fade away. When it’s clear that everyone’s role is respected and valued, the energy spent on competing with others is futile. In turn, this fosters a team-oriented culture and genuine appreciation for each function of the business – and the people that make up these functions.
Avoid mixed messages
When communication from company leaders does not align with the organization’s overall mission or goals, it detracts from a culture of togetherness. It is important to ensure messages are consistent across practices and teams. Company leaders must feel united within the organization (and make their teams feel it, too). When each leader believes in the pillars of the culture – and demonstrates it – organizations transform from businesses made up of multiple, disparate pillars into one united team. While this one team is built of individuals with different perspectives and beliefs, the organization can remain united when the commitment to a healthy, collaborative culture is evident.
Do what is right
These investments in building a unified culture can pay dividends during challenging times and when there is disagreement across an organization. There are times when leaders have to make difficult decisions that many people in the organization vehemently disagree with. But, if those leaders have put the effort into creating a respectful, mission-driven culture, business leaders can trust that the unity they’ve build within their organizations will prevail.
We’ve worked hard to create a united organization rooted in our company’s mission, vision and values. It’s the responsibility of leadership to foster and maintain this culture of acceptance, respect and, of course, unity. It’s not as easy as it sounds, as many of you know. As our team looks toward year-end, we’re reflecting on our achievements and challenges, so we can move forward unified and continue to agilely navigate any curveballs the world throws at us. At Sikich, I accept that our people aren’t going to agree on everything. After all, the culture we’ve proudly built is based on diversity. But as a collective unit, we relentlessly move forward – together – every day.