I have a friend in the army that has told me they believe “Mission first, people always.”

How honorable is that! While this mantra isn’t always followed to the letter – let’s be real, all leaders are not good leaders – it’s one that should be at the core of how you manage others. I have always tried to embody this sentiment.

When I was working in corporate america I was often reprimanded for being too invested in the best interest of my team. It’s something I’ll never change about myself. I’m a firm believer that if you take care of your people, your business will ultimately be a success.

Whether you realize it or not, your leadership style has a direct impact on your team’s culture. It’s up to you to create a work environment that promotes an empowered culture. One where employees are valued, not penalized for failing or taking risks, and communication is encouraged, there’s a good chance your employees will enjoy working for you and that experience will extend to your customers.

Here’s what you can do to create a strong team culture


The work environment is a key indicator of team morale. Take some time to assess your workplace. Is it a highly collaborate place full of team engagement and communication? Or do your employees seem underwhelmed and unexcited? One sure sign that your office environment needs help is if you’re experiencing staff conflicts and high turnover rates. If this is the case for you, it’s time to improve the workplace.

Tips for improving your work environment:

  • Become an advocate for positive and open communication
  • Be supportive – offer to help, notice when someone is having a bad day or not feeling well and be compassionate and available
  • Make sure that your team and their contribution is valuable to you
  • Know your team – recognize individual strengths and encourage team collaboration


It’s important that you are the model of the behaviors and standards that you desire from your team. The workplace shouldn’t be a rigid environment where no one wants to admit when they’re overwhelmed or they’re afraid to speak up when something isn’t working out as planned. Be the example. Create a safe place and then make sure that you operate on the same level of openness. From being able to admit when you’re wrong or recognizing when an expectation is unrealistic, your employees will respect your transparency.

Tip: If you’re a small business owner you may be used to doing everything yourself. Be careful not to project that same expectation on your team. Find people that are good at what they do and let them excel in their area of expertise. Also remember, you don’t have to hire a new employee to fill a small need. For example, if you’re struggling with payroll responsibilities but aren’t quite ready for a full-time human resource manager, consider contracting payroll tasks out to a company like paychex.com or this payroll company.


It’s no surprise that companies like Google are perceived as great places to work. They have built a culture of fun and playfulness that is inspiring and enticing to those looking for an engaged workplace. But you don’t have to be a large corporation to create an equally appealing workplace for your team.

Start by showing appreciation for your employees and their accomplishments. When you show them that you care and that they’re valuable to you and the business, they feel more connected. Doing so doesn’t have to be a big production. Partner with your local gym for an employee discount for your team. Schedule paid team volunteer days. Order lunch every now and then or bring donuts to your team huddle a few mornings out the week. Host fun weekly or monthly competitions like “best office/desk decor” or “Mr./Mrs. Congeniality”. Don’t just do the run of the meal “employee of the month”. Do something different, something unique that your team can be excited about.