Dan Coyle’s The Culture Code explores the key traits of high-functioning teams. It’s no surprise that the best teams in any endeavor become greater than the sum of their parts. Or as Dan describes it, they make 2 + 2 = 10.
We’re talking about more than the intelligence, work ethic, or experience of the individual members here. According to Coyle, the not-so-secret ingredients are 1) Belonging, 2) Vulnerability, and 3) Purpose. For instance…
- If your team members receive enough “belonging cues” to feel safe,
- If they can be vulnerable enough to ask for help when they need it,
- And if they’re regularly reminded of the impact and importance of their work,
…your team is likely to outperform.
Belonging. Vulnerability. Purpose.
The benefits of a strong culture need little explanation. Dan cites a Harvard study of more than 200 companies that concluded the following:
A strong culture improves revenue 765 percent over an 11-year period.
Culture has an outsized impact on the way a group functions—for good or for ill. And the complexity of today’s business problems has rendered the old top-down, command-and-control approach to management obsolete. Teams need to innovate, problem-solve, learn together, and move with speed. Without trust, you’ll never get there. A good culture makes everything easier.
I definitely recommend this book. It’s an easy, enjoyable read and Dan provides plenty of research, stories, and real-world examples to prove his points. Try building a team book club around it. Or, just watch this quick explainer video with your team and then do the exercise below.
As always, we want to get intensely practical here at Fearless Fundraising. So, what’s one way you can invest in your team culture today?
Well, it all starts with self-awareness. This is as important for teams as it is for individuals. Check out this assessment:
Assuming your team has a base level of trust and isn’t in crisis, take Dan’s Culture Code Quiz together. It’s easy; there are only seven questions! Here’s how I made this work for my team:
- Each member of your team should fill out the quiz individually first.
- Assign each answer a 1-3 score.
- All answers are in a worst-middle-best format (left to right on the web page).
- Score 1 for the worst/lowest rating and 3 the best/highest.
- For example, with the first question When someone acts like a jerk, we: an “Avoid” answer would score as a 1 and a “Confront” would be a 3.
- Add the number value of everyone on the team’s answers to get a cumulative team score for each question.
Start your discussion with the positives. On which two questions did your team score highest? Take a moment to celebrate and affirm these team strengths. Also, ask your teammates to share specific examples that come to their minds that illustrate these positive behaviors.
Next, take a look at your two lowest scores. To made it a productive discussion, you will need to lean into vulnerability. If the team leader models this, everyone else will follow. Have an honest discussion about your team culture’s weaknesses. Here’s some guidance:
- See if you can get to specific examples and areas for improvement without naming names.
- Ask what it would take for people to rank the team high on these questions a year from now.
- What commitments can the group make immediately to change behaviors or practices?
I promise this will make for a worthwhile discussion.
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