How to Build an Award-Winning Culture

How to Create an Award-Winning Culture

Some people and businesses seem to be a magnet for awards, but what’s the winning formula and how can you build that into your team?

In life, sport and business, some are just natural winners. Creating an award-winning culture within your organisation will not only help you win more awards, but it will also ensure your business is in the best possible position to win across the board.

A survey from Bain & Company of 365 companies in the Europe, North America and Asia found that 81% of people believed that lacking a high performance awards culture would doom a company to mediocrity.

Culture is vital but getting it right can be challenging. Fewer than 10% of companies actually succeed in building the culture they are looking for. Even so, there are a number of magic ingredients which most successful people and organisations share. Embedding these into your team will give you the best possible chance of becoming a serial winner.

Mentality and values

Research from Awards International suggests a common trait among winning sports people and CEOs was that they had a strong respect for their competitors and other team members. They recognise their own strengths, those of their team and what motivates them to be more successful.

Creating that winning mentality starts with embedding your core values. We’ve all seen companies which have laudable values and missions statements on their websites and the walls of the office but fail to follow them through.

To be useful, values have to represent what the company actually does and how it behaves. If you’re starting your own business, you can begin by thinking about yourself, what your values are and what drives you. Are you focused and driven? Do you believe in the concept of work hard play hard? Are you relaxed, but expect excellence? These can be the templates to create a successful company in your own image.

At the same time, though, you should seek to involve your staff as much as possible. Values which are shaped from the bottom up, rather than passed down from the top, are much more likely to be followed.

Ask them about the values they would like to include and the kind of organisation they want to be a part of. Empowering them to take ownership of the company’s direction will create a culture in which everyone feels like a vital part in the overall goal.

Use failure

Failure can be a stepping stone towards success. Every winning sports star, actor, or entrepreneur has had several setbacks along the way. Winners feed of failure, learn from it and grow, while others become crippled by anxiety and the fear of it happening again.

When you do fail, and you will from time to time, you need to embrace it for what it is, and use it as the first building block in future success.

This approach will help you build a company full of the kind of people who tend to be successful. Award winners tend to be those who are willing to step up and take a fall, to put themselves in the spotlight and risk being found wanting.  

Putting yourself up for an award can be a nerve-wracking experience. The odds will be stacked against you. The chances are you’ll be up against three of four of your biggest competitors. Only one of you can win, and if you don’t, you’ll feel as if you have put yourself up on a pedestal only to be told right there in public that the other guy is better.

You will need to be the kind of person who isn’t crippled by the thought of failure but has their eyes on the winning goal. For that you’ll need to try and focus on the process and the final goal rather than obsessing about all the terrible things which might happen if your lose. Fear can be a mind killer and a negative attitude will often become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Creating a balanced team

Great companies recruit great people but it’s not just about having highly talented individuals; it’s about hiring people with complimentary types of skills and personalities. Each of them will bring something unique to the table and you need to find a way of getting the most out of them.

For example, if your team is full of great innovators, you may need someone who can keep a hold of the detail and ensure the numbers are in place. Hiring a savvy financial officer could be crucial to keeping your company on the straight and narrow.

Many managers have a certain type of person they look for, but this can close you off to opportunities elsewhere. Diverse perspectives can be great for your business as long as everyone is pulling towards the same goal and share a passion to excel.

Communicate for the win

Bringing all those people together can be great but they need to communicate. Many businesses slip into working in a segregated way in which different departments slip into their own siloes. They can find themselves working towards their own agendas with the work of one department often working against the interests of others. All of a sudden, you find yourself with a civil war on your hands with separate sections of your business vying for supremacy.

To avoid this, you need to build communication between departments. This will help them understand that they are all players in a larger team working towards a larger goal. Sharing information and data between departments will reveal new insights which will help them become more successful.

Learn from others

In short, a successful award-winning business is one which has a clear idea of its core goals, which recruits the right people, helps them play to their successes, and facilitates smooth communication across all areas of the business.

All of which is easier said than done. So, it helps to learn from other examples. If you’re just starting out in business think about other companies in which you have worked. Think about the places you enjoyed working as well as those you did not. Remember your great managers as well as those who you’d be happy never to set eyes on again. Both, for different reasons, will have valuable lessons for you, your team and your business.