Culture in a Small Team
When Business Sherpa Group (BSG) was formed, Margo’s* vision was a firm that provided full business solutions in fractional, flexible amounts for SMEs. This offering was achieved by working with independent associates who are experts in their fields. To optimize this approach, a community was created for these independent associates – an ecosystem where they could collaborate with others, build their knowledge and enjoy team activities you might get in a conventional workplace.
At first, with a small core team of associates, engaging and learning was fairly easy. A weekly call among associates and quarterly all-team sessions provided opportunities to socialize, learn, teach and grow. Ask any of our early associates; finding someone with an answer to your burning HR question or a tool you could use with your finance client was simple because, well, you knew everyone.
*Margo Crawford, President and CEO of Business Sherpa Group
Culture in a Growing Team
Flash forward 11 years, and BSG has GROWN! BSG is now a team of 17 staff and over 75 associates. How do you maintain a sense of community and culture in a growing enterprise and one that now includes virtual resources across the country? Most recently, a very enthusiastic Katherine Clarke-Nolan, Director of Delivery and Engagement, launched BSG Book Club as a means to discuss concepts with our community of employees and associates that touch our clients.
Book Club book #1
The inaugural book for BSG Book Club was The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. The book was chosen so that we could reflect on the learnings for BSG clients and the BSG ecosystem itself. We focused on how we encourage healthy cultures for our clients and how we can continue to build a BSG culture that we are proud of as we continue to scale and grow.
Basics of the Book
Through anecdotal and fact-based research, Daniel Coyle says there are three traits that create highly successful cultures:
- Building Safety
Healthy cultures build signals of connection that generate bonds of belonging and identity. Building safety depends on small moments and cues. The large gestures, unlike romantic comedies, do not a good culture make. Instead it is eye contact, a small touch, or avoiding interrupting colleagues.
- Sharing Vulnerability
Building habits of mutual risk to drive cooperation, “we are all in this together”. It is the moment of vulnerability and how we respond that affects the culture. If the response is negative, people will not continue to share mistakes or take risks. Instead, in moments of disagreement or vulnerability, make it a habit to be open and trusting.
- Establishing Purpose
Increasingly, we are seeing employees who would rather believe in what they are doing than engage in a job that pays them more, but they do not understand the purpose. Coyle makes the point to “measure what really matters”. Most of us have goals tied to business metrics such as revenue, but consider how you might create metrics that are tied more specifically to the narrative and purpose of the organization.
Overall, Culture Code by Daniel Coyle offered us a lot to think about and discuss in our book club. We would recommend it to those looking for a simply written and easy to read book on company culture.
As for a means to connect with our growing team, book club was an excellent vehicle to combine learning and socializing. We’ve come to realize the face-to-face element is very important to feel a connection so, instead of just having participants who couldn’t physically attend call in, we used video-conferencing. Feedback from both those present and those video-ing in was that the video conference made a world of difference. So while learning about company culture in book club we realized something about our own culture!
The next BSG Book Club is on The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni.