No matter how big or how small, or how significant or how impactful your team is, values and principles for work are exceptionally important. They govern how your team operates as a team and ensures smooth sailing towards your goals.
When The Australian Hockeyroos were training for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, we had a team ethos. This ethos was like our guiding purpose and was how we operated. The entire squad came up with the ethos and we all owned it. It become part of how we trained and played every week.
When it comes to organisations, I see so many well intentioned development workshops and brainstorms about purpose and values never being embedded back within an organisation. Sometimes it is written on a wall, or in an employee handbook, but isn’t truly embedded in a way that creates change. Within our team we chose to put parts of our ethos on t-shirts, and everyone wore a shirt with different parts of the phrase on it. We wore them everywhere – on the field and off the field. It’s like everyone owned a small part of a collective message.
Sometimes I reflect back onto our mission statement, and wonder whether we could have done better, like it could have been on our walls, it could have been in our wallets. Now I know how successful it was in helping us reach our goals I would have wanted us to have it everywhere.
We also took the time to turn this ethos into a set of 10 commandments. These were similar, they were rules for how we played and how we operated as a team. We referred back to those a lot. Whether that was as part of our own self reflection, assessing competition or planning for the future. And it worked incredibly well.
So if you’re looking to embed team principles and a team ethos, or team values or anything else that falls under a team charter into your high-performing team, these are my tips:
Take them seriously
Many organisations think company ethos, or mission, or principles and values are a bit fluffy, so they create them haphazardly and vaguely. Many organisations also create these things at the top and just expect everyone else to buy in. If you really want to achieve something, whether you want to be the best in the world, or dominate your industry, or create something extraordinary, everyone needs to buy in and everyone needs to take it seriously.
Create them together
Consider creating your principles together as a team. This way, everyone has an ownership over them and understands what they mean in a tangible way. Many teams will all sign guiding principles or behaviours as a way of agreeing to abide by them.
Find a way to embed them
We chose t-shirts as a way of keeping our ethos alive every day. Many organisations do different things such as writing their values or principles on the wall, or publishing them on cups in the lunch room. Find a way of using these guiding principles in every day conversation. Discuss how you and your team live by them, use them for self reflection. The more real they are the better.