To win the war for talent, you must shape the culture so that your company attracts the right people. As the Great Resignation has proven, unhappy workers whose employers aren’t cutting it are quitting in droves. In fact, one-quarter of employees resigned over the past six months and the No. 1 reason listed for quitting was “toxic company culture.” Things like a lack of recognition, favoritism, unhealthy communication, gossiping, and poor management skills can all contribute to a toxic culture. So, what’s an organization to do when it can’t completely start from scratch? Embrace the potter’s philosophy. It’s an old metaphor, but an apt one when it comes to creating culture. And it only involves three steps: pick the clay, center the clay and mold the clay.  

Step 1: Pick the clay 

There are four different types of clay that potters use: Earthenware clay, Stoneware clay, Ball clay, and Porcelain. All can be used but the end result for each will be different from the others because of its color, texture, and flexibility. In business, it’s no different. To create a culture that will attract and retain the best employees, you must first pick the right people to be a part of the culture. Building diversity is key. Individuals with different backgrounds, life experiences, personal characteristics, skill sets, and viewpoints are necessary to construct a high-performing team.  

Of course, people differences often trigger people problems, so it is important for a manager to choose people who are supportive and collaborative team players, but also results-driven. And it is just as important that the manager provides opportunities for the team to get to know each other’s personality types and work styles. Taking the time to choose the right people and then creating cohesion by helping them to get to know each other to build trust will create a solid foundation for the team. 

Step 2: Center the clay 

Once a potter has chosen the type of clay they will use, it’s time to center it on the potting wheel. This involves getting a ball of clay to evenly distribute across the middle of the potting wheel. It doesn’t sound hard but it’s actually one of the most frustrating parts of preparing the clay. Centering the clay is like aligning employees to the mission and values of the organization, so it’s an essential step. Employees have always wanted to know that what they do at work is important, but for many, this desire is now one of the biggest factors contributing to whether they stay at their job or take their skills elsewhere. Basically, the pandemic caused a shift in how we view work. So much so, that fifty-two percent now say they question the purpose of their day-to-day job. And 92% said the pandemic made them feel life is too short to stay in a job they weren’t passionate about. 

Sadly, when employees feel they have little purpose, they begin to disengage. They care less and so lose the desire to do their job well. This lack of motivation trickles down and causes productivity to suffer. Ultimately, unhappy people create an unhappy workplace culture. A good manager, however, will start during the hiring process to make sure that all team members know just how much their work matters and how it ties in with the mission statement and values of the organization.  

Step 3: Mold the clay

Molding the clay is where the potter works the centered clay on the potting wheel to create the sculpture of their choosing. One aspect of this step is the act of smoothing out the clay with the fingers. This process is like the idea of providing feedback to employees in order to help them become the best that they can be at their jobs. And yet it’s one of the things managers struggle with the most.  

Over two-thirds report that they are uncomfortable with giving feedback to those they manage, especially if it’s negative feedback. But this is hands down the best way to help mold employees into high-performing members of the team. When feedback is given regularly and appropriately, it models a two-way communication loop which decreases office conflict and helps people feel valued and recognized. This is so important that nearly 60% of employees surveyed stated that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis — a number that increased to 72% for employees under age 30. Regular feedback (mostly positive!) by management is a necessary component of building a high-performance team.  

3 Steps to Success

A beautiful piece of pottery represents skilled craftsmanship, not unlike the manager of a thriving workplace culture. The potter chooses the right clay and the manager chooses the right people. The potter centers the clay and the manager centers the team by aligning them to the company’s mission and values. And lastly, the potter molds the clay, just as the manager uses feedback to mold the members of the team. All three steps are necessary to create high-performance teams that will sustain the company culture.  

To begin this process, contact us today! We provide a comprehensive continual learning model that achieves results! 

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