Creating the ideal office environment is something we have worked hard to achieve and maintain. For any business, a positive and collaborative office culture is essential. One of the things we do at EBD is an annual Ski Day, which was recently so much fun that it prompted reflection on how we built a great team culture.
EBD began our journey of developing our office culture when Business Psychologist, Natalie Baumgartner, came to us as a client. We branded her company, Monarch, where she worked with companies, from Private Equity backed to Fortune 500, seeking culture transformation to address issues with productivity, retention, engagement and profitability. This brand name served as a metaphor for transformation, which is exactly what Natalie helped these companies create in their cultures.
During our time working together, Natalie assessed our staff and coached us to better understand how to deliver an engaging, aligned culture in the workplace. The goal of her work is to help organizations achieve an environment that plans for good times, and bad, and functions effectively in both. Realizing the value of this work in smaller organizations, Natalie co-founded a software platform, RoundPegg, to make her culture alignment process more broadly available. The system provided a set of core values such as being creative vs. pragmatic, or being team oriented. The employee rated each value as Most or Least Important – or as Negotiable (middle) based on their own personal wiring. When EBD first took this test, our team showed as highly culturally aligned – meaning we had a small set of core values shared in common – thanks to Natalie’s work with us. Natalie reminded us that when employees hold a small set of values in common, that glue allows for the other diversity employees bring to be even more impactful. Selecting for alignment with our small set of core values became an important part of EBD’s recruitment process and the beginning of our journey to a collaborative office culture. (RoundPegg was sold and is not currently available.)
Today Natalie continues her work as Partner and Chief Research Officer at Contemporary Leadership Advisors. Over the years, her work with us helped us realize the importance of actively managing our workplace culture to maximize our team’s unique skill sets and capabilities through teamwork. Here are a few tips and practices that we continue to integrate into our workplace.
Establish a Foundation of Trust and Communication
In Natalie’s practice, she speaks a lot to the idea of “fit”. Finding the right “fit” for yourself is key in workplace happiness. It’s also important to feel a foundation of mutual trust and effective communication. This foundation helps you focus on solving problems and finding solutions.
“Belonging and connections are the glue that keep people engaged.” – Natalie Baumgartner, Contemporary Leadership Advisors
In the same way we initiate trust and communication with clients, our internal team needs trust and transparency. Transparency doesn’t have to mean relaying every specific detail about the company, rather sharing information that is needed for everyone to succeed in their role and feel invited into the community.
Communication is also key, especially in today’s remote and hybrid work life. Your team cannot begin to collaborate if there is a lack of shared knowledge. This can be as simple as weekly updates or check-ins to make sure everyone is on the same page. It is a lot easier to be successful when everyone is working towards the same goal.
“Invite every individual to feel welcomed and safe in bringing their full selves into the company culture, conversation & community.” – Natalie Baumgartner
Acknowledge Different Communication Styles
In any work environment, you are surrounded by a variety of work styles. Great things are achieved when people with different skills and thought processes come together in a productive way. At EBD, we focus on acknowledging our differences and finding effective ways to communicate.
Every year our team takes part in a DISC training course led by our amazing Director of Operations, Natalie Williamson. DISC is a personal assessment tool we use and an acronym for this model’s four personality profiles; Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. During this course we learn about each other’s personality profiles, communication styles and how that plays into the office culture. The importance of this is to make our employees feel understood and help set expectations.
Here is a breakdown of the different characteristics associated with the four DISC profiles:
The course helps us understand how our dispositions relate back to our roles within the company. During the session, we are trained to appreciate how communication styles differ amongst profiles, and learn how to recognize the best way to correspond when working together.
At EBD, our leaders with D-Style personalities are Ellen Bruss the founder of EBD, as well as our Director of Operations and one of our Account Managers. They lead at EBD by focusing on the big picture, navigating and delivering results.
When communicating with a D-Style, give them the bottom line, be brief, and come with solutions.
We have a lot of C-Style, detailed and precise team members spread amongst our design team, marketing, and production. Our design team focuses on the finer details of the work to produce one-of-a-kind creative for our clients. EBD’s Production Manager and Marketing Coordinator also thrive in their roles as they value quality and analysis to achieve results.
When communicating with a C-Style, focus on the facts and details.
The S-Style, people-oriented team members are our Sales Manager and Account Manager. Their communication with current and potential clients is done with patience to build personable and lasting relationships.
When communicating with a S-Style, be personable and express your interest in them and what you expect from them.
Lastly, we have our enthusiast of the office, or I-Style. Our Design Director prioritizes collaborating with the design team while using creativity and influence to build out his designs.
When communicating with a I-Style, focus on the positives, share your experience and allow them time to be curious.
Have Fun With It
To build a stronger team, you should also find time to bond outside of the office. At EBD we like to come together with monthly happy hours, celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries, client site visits, an annual ski day, and a holiday party. Even the simplest of things can bring people together. Day to day, our team loves sharing fun articles, personal news, and mini quizzes on our slack channel to spark conversation and learn more about each other.
“Engage in small steps to truly get to know your employees, focus on showing gratitude for who they are versus what they do.” – Natalie Baumgartner
We’re thankful that we genuinely have fun together. There is always room for improvement and growth, just like any relationship. But at EBD, we always strive to show each other respect and maintain a positive, healthy, and collaborative environment and learn as we go.