A business strategy without a team has already failed

A business strategy without a team has already failed

An Olympic soccer coach could develop an amazing, record-breaking game strategy. However, if they don’t have a team to execute it, then there is no possibility of winning and the strategy becomes useless. The same goes for any business strategy, idea, or plan. That’s why we need to invest in our teams and develop a workplace culture that prioritises engagement, happiness, and passion.

Since I joined Pierlite, we have developed a worldclass culture, with a near-perfect engagement score that has phenomenally exceeded the world standard. As a result, our work performance and productivity has skyrocketed. We are executing strategies and complex programs generating millions of dollars and excellent results, with the help of our passionate team. So, how did we get here? Because our team is more engaged, passionate, and satisfied than ever. This just goes to show that it’s not about the handful of executives at the top of a company. Without a strong team behind them, leaders have no value. Let me explain what I mean.

Finding your team’s “why”

CEOs and managers are nothing without their team. You could have the smartest CEO in the world creating strategies and plans, yet without committed and passionate people by their side, they have no chance of materialising the dreams they have for their company. But how do you extract this commitment and passion from your team? Many leaders expect their employees to be passionate about the company’s mission and the work they do every day. But let’s be realistic – not many people wake up every morning with the sole purpose of achieving their company’s vision and mission, nor should we expect them to.

At Pierlite, we have a no judgement ethos to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and accepted when they come to work. When people tell me what motivates them to get up every morning, every answer is completely valid and should be celebrated. Some employees are here because they want to enhance their career, while others are here because they want to support their family or buy fancy cars. Any answer is great! As leaders, we need to accept everyone’s “why” and understand that their work will help them achieve it.

Finding your team members’ motivating factors will enable you to work together in a way that benefits both parties. In business, we’re often focusing on the “who”, “what”, “when”, and “where”. But we cannot forget to factor in the “why” of what we’re doing as individuals and as a team.

The work that every company delivers is produced by its employees. Therefore, it only makes sense that your team should have a meaningful input in everything you do. This is what we do at Pierlite. Everything, from decision-making processes to brand definition is done with employee input.

When I became Pierlite’s CEO, we changed our vision, mission, and values to better reflect our team and company’s “why”. What better way to do this than survey every single worker in the company? We gathered insights and opinions company-wide and used them to create a company that is authentic and true to the people it is run by. These decisions should never be confined to the executives of a company. As a result of Pierlite’s employee involvement in these decision-making processes, we have reached peak engagement rates and our employees are enthusiastic about their contribution to the company.

Making workplace engagement personal

Workplace engagement isn’t just about throwing free snacks in the office or going out to a team dinner every month or so. It’s about genuinely caring about what your team needs to stay passionate and motivated, and finding activities that engage people.

One of my favourite ways to keep my team engaged is by participating in their hobbies. For example, one of our warehouse managers is passionate about helping people in need, so we’ve given him the green light to use our storage room as a place for people to donate food for vulnerable community members. Other businesses may refuse work property to be used for personal motivations, but instead our people are empowered to follow their passion, raise such ideas, and execute them at a local level, with their management buy-in. People are more willing to learn and contribute to their team when they know their leaders have the intention to help them advance their passion, position, and goals.

Another example is one of our employees who loves bees and beekeeping. We funded the purchase of 50,000 bees and associated hives and created a program that allowed people to purchase the honey produced for a price of their choosing. Pierlite doubles the proceeds from the honey and donates the money to charity. I bought the first jar of honey for $35, and before we knew it, people were purchasing jars at their chosen price point of $100 to go to charity. To maintain a chain of engagement and collegiality, people who purchased honey could pass it on to a colleague as a token of gratitude for being a great co-worker.

While we’re on the topic, Pierlite actually strives to emulate the culture of a beehive. Why? Because in a hive, every bee is equal. While a queen bee exists, she is not the boss. Rather, bees protect their queen because she produces eggs, but that doesn’t elevate her importance over everyone else. Each bee understands their role and responsibilities for pollinating the world and producing honey. This level of equality is what every workplace should aim for.

I have banned the word “boss” from the workplace because having a “boss” suggests that one person has more value than the other. We also avoid labelling people as the department they work in. Instead of thinking of ourselves as different teams with different values, we see ourselves as one team comprised of people with different responsibilities.

Managing energy and rest in the workplace

Focusing on employee happiness is crucial to their productivity and work satisfaction. One study conducted by the University of Warwick found that happy employees worked harder and were 12% more productive. The researchers also noted that when Google invested in employee support and happiness, employee satisfaction rose by 37%. Ultimately, happy employees will achieve a company’s strategy and mission more efficiently.

What creates a happy team? While different companies require different modes of management, our need for happiness chemicals are consistent across all teams. Scientifically, we need to focus on four chemicals in our body that contribute to wellbeing –dopamine, which involves eating food, getting enough sleep, and achieving your goals; oxytocin, which is triggered through socialising, bonding with people, and helping others; endorphins, which require exercise, laughter, and fun activities; and finally, serotonin, which involves sun exposure, walks, and a good diet.

At Pierlite, we consciously strive for healthy work habits that release positive chemicals in our bodies. For example, we encourage exercise and movement by hosting regular Zoom exercises and meditation classes. I also try to lead by example when it comes to physical movement by walking my dogs when I’m on a virtual meeting. This signals to the team that they are also encouraged to stay active and walk around during remote meetings. Additionally, we promote oxytocin through regular social events and activities that allow people to bond and socialise.

Socialising is also a productive form of rest, which is critical to a healthy team. Longer hours of working do not actually equate to more work being completed. Rest is fundamental to a strong workplace.

One way we encourage rest and morale is by hosting celebrations and announcing positive moments. I believe that no one celebrates moments more than Pierlite does. Just the other week, I got a call from Pierlite’s Western Australia General Manager saying that they were going to host a function. I asked what it was for, and he replied, “to celebrate the first day of summer”. Celebrations of small moments and wins like this uplifts the team, boosts their happiness chemicals, and gives them the opportunity to rest. As a result, we come back to work energised and ready to take on our mission.

Pierlite is not just any business, it’s a transformative company. I am proud to be leading such a passionate and successful team. Our team is the reason why we have been able to exceed expectations and materialise business strategies time and time again. I could write down an innovative business strategy, but without the amazing people around me to bring it to life, the strategy will simply sit there looking good on paper, but never reaching its potential.