Why do we work where we do?
Guest blog by Lindsey Moore at the Amplified Group
This is a question that I have been thinking about lately. With so much disruption in the last twelve months, I feel fortunate to work with leaders that I admire and trust, and who incidentally I worked with many years ago!
With more downtime during these challenging Covid-19 days I have been delving into books and podcasts, making me consider the importance of where we work and how this shapes who we are.
Over the last twenty years, the companies I have worked for have felt more like work families. I realise that might not be the norm. These companies valued their employees, maybe without even knowing it at the time, and created loyal followers and teammates.
Is it luck or has it been a conscious decision by the leaders of these companies to create strong cultures and loyal teams?
Knowing your why?
Under Mark Templeton’s leadership at Citrix, it is clear that “knowing your why” was very much at the forefront of Mark’s mind, creating a loyal set of customers, partners and employees that followed Citrix through thick and thin – a vital trait for companies in hyper growth.
As Simon Sinek points out, inspired leaders who create and communicate the ‘why’ can create an almost cult like following. When people follow you for the ‘why’ you create a loyalty that is not based on money, or novelty.
The leaders I have known have had the ability to provide a clear vision on where we were heading, and how we would get there together. Joining those journeys and witnessing how our efforts impacted results has always been a strong driver for me (there have been challenges and failures along the way, but there has always been a strong reason why we were doing something.)
Bear with me on this one. Arsène Wenger recently shared his experience and leadership principles of guiding a football team to a higher level. He took all factors that affect a player into consideration, not just how a player performs on the field, but how they act outside of work such as nutrition, health, lifestyle, relaxation etc. This approach was a little controversial in the early 00’s but the result of his belief in this holistic approach, created a team that were much fitter mentally and physically.
Developing people as individuals creates an awesome team with the ability to perform together at a higher level when it was needed.
Importance of belonging
Imagine being valued as the whole person that you are – your pressures, your strengths, your fallibles, what you dream of – rather than just your work output standard. To be seen and heard is a powerful thing. When we strongly believe in the ‘why’ we naturally work above and beyond because we are emotionally invested in the success of the team.
Belonging in a team where everyone is valued, regardless of your job role, where anyone voluntarily steps up to help a colleague without question because they saw that their teammate needed a hand is invaluable. In return, that person feels able to ask for help when they need it too. The unquestionable support network creates long term, trusted relationships. Long after employees have moved on, some of my closest friends are from those inspiring working environments.
I particularly remember a stressful time where my colleague recognised I was a little frazzled. When I re-entered the office, he played whale spa music and made me a cup of tea. It made me laugh and broke the knot of stress in my stomach. He knew me well enough that it would bring a smile to my face. He also offered to help with my workload, and as a more senior person to me, it meant the world. Thanks Max 😊)
In the podcast with Chris Collett he discusses that asking for help in the absence of trust can be difficult, particularly when stressed. You perhaps think you will be judged for asking for help which in turn increases your anxiety levels and ultimately reduces the result that the team can achieve. If part of the team is not functioning at 100% then results will be reduced.
In the Five Behaviours model, there is quite rightly an objective for profit, and it is equally reasonable for an objective for the team to be looking out for the well-being of each other. This allows people to hold one another accountable. If you can talk to someone in a positive way, if you look after people, and they feel part of it, then results are naturally improved.
Many organisations are now realising the importance and priority of looking after their employees. If there is trust, a team can function as a whole.
In Simon Sinek’s words,
“working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”
Why we are doing what we are doing is so important in supporting our mental health.
Maintaining the culture at scale
Of course, life is not perfect and there will always be bumps along the way but it’s how we react to them that counts. A change of senior leadership or even a direct manager can quickly change the dynamics of a team.
Former MD of Softcat, Colin Brown recently discussed in a podcast the challenge of maintaining the personality of a company when growing at scale. This was his primary objective behind the successful growth of Softcat.
Maintaining their culture was the most important strategic objective. Understanding the ‘why’ was clear, it was the ‘how’ that was the tricky bit. By consciously discussing this amongst the leadership team they were able to come up with strategies on how to maintain the culture of the company even after becoming a public listed company.
Under Colin’s guidance, Softcat were able to grow their revenues organically from $300m with 280 people to £2bn with 1,600 people. Powerful stuff!
If we can all be that little bit better with the support of a trusted team, and if business improves as a direct result, why aren’t more companies investing in their people to develop a strong, trust culture?
I guess the way teams’ gel can seem a little mystical. There are many different personality types and management types, so how can you possibly get everyone to work together? Listening to the Get Amplified podcasts I’ve learnt there is a formula for this, Microsoft describe it as the ‘operating system for teams.’
Taking it to the next level – sustaining growth
Creating a powerful ‘team of teams’ by building trust and breaking down silos across complex matrix organisations can be challenging. With the right guidance this can be done effectively and, most importantly, maintained as the business grows to ensure happy employees, great teams, and exceptional results.
Vicky Reddington’s vision and belief in why they do what they do is the driving force behind the Amplified Group. She believes there is a better way for organisations to thrive and helps business leaders to create and maintain their organisational fitness.
As an authorised partner of the Five Behaviours of a Team, the Amplified Group remove the mysticism and help IT companies in hyper growth mode to continue to excel. It is no accident that Vicky has recently been nominated as a Global Touch Inc, IT Wondrous Women. She is working to change the world of work for the better!
For dog walks, or just walks
If you are interested in learning more and enjoy podcasts, here are a few of my favourite ones from the Amplified Group (disclaimer, they are all great, but these ones seemed to strike a chord with me.)
Season 2 #GetAmplified
Episode #3. “The importance of belonging” – David Parry-Jones, Twilio Inc. VP EMEA & APAC
Episode #5. “Culture is Everything” – Colin Brown, former Softcat MD
Episode #9. “We were a band” – Mark Templeton, former Citrix CEO
Episode #10. “Breaking down the glass ceilings of growth” – Mark Templeton, former Citrix CEO
Episode #11. “Kind girls can get the corner office” – Rebecca Fox
Season 1 #GetAmplified
Episode #15 “Take care of your employees and results take care of themselves” – Chris Collett former Army Major
Episode #3. “What shadow do you cast? The power of understanding yourself and the people you work with” – Chris Collett, former Army Major
Episode #5 & #6. “Keeping up with the pace of change” – Martin Kelly, Global Technology Leader & Former Citrix, WW VP of IT Infrastructure
How to stay together when we are all apart has never been more important.
2021 is all about the power of teams!
References:Amplified Group Podcast #10 “Breaking down the glass ceilings of growth” Mark Templeton (buzzsprout.com) former Citrix CEO  “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek  “My Life in Red & White” by Arsène Wenger  Amplified Group Podcast S1 #15 Take care of your employees and results take care of themselves with Chris Collett former Army Major  The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team – Wiley Workplace Learning Solutions and Patrick Lencioni methodology Meet #fivebehaviors  Amplified Group Podcast S2 #5 “Culture is Everything” Colin Brown. Former MD at Softcat (buzzsprout.com)  IT Wondrous Women: Vicky Reddington