Making communication part of the Wagoneer culture

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A motivated team can drive a business forward. While peer recognition boosts motivation at work, bad communication can kill it, with international stats showing that 77% of employees would work harder if they felt better recognised, while 39% feel under-appreciated at work. How could we make sure BRND WGN was a close, happy and productive team?

A couple of years ago, Wagoneers were craving concrete ways to get honest feedback and set new objectives, so we began to use 15Five as a feedback and engagement tool. However, nurturing a culture of openness and honesty goes well beyond an online tool. That’s why we tried a new approach - here’s what worked.

1. Starting a conversation

One reason we set up a People department was so that Wagoneers could have a neutral, bias-free space to talk about their issues. 

On 15Five we started to ask simple questions, such as “What challenges are you facing?” or “How can we make you more successful?” and found that those questions had the power to prompt honest discussions with both team managers and HR, gradually instilling a culture of real-time, open feedback.

Slowly, everyone began to face issues directly with the people involved, without feeling the need for an online feedback tool. Today, even though the tool remains available, people feel confident that they can speak their mind right away. So it’s all about flagging it, fixing it and moving on.

2. Knowing each other

Once the conversation had started, we wanted teams and team leaders to get to know each other more. 

A leader's job is to encourage, coach, mentor and motivate their team. This becomes impossible if they don’t know their team on a human level, so we arranged 1-on-1s every two months to ensure discussions were happening on a regular basis. 

This proved to be a very useful way for teams and managers to connect, and it helped us understand that Wagoneers needed more definite directions as to how they could progress in their career.

That’s when we decided to make roles and responsibilities clearer for every individual within the WGN, with mini-goals and objectives to work on until the next 1-on-1. 

This has created a greater sense of gradual accomplishment: now team members know where they’re heading, can count on their leaders to help them achieve what they want, and get regular feedback for constant improvement. That results in better, more passionate work.

3. Celebrating success

Recognising someone’s efforts is a powerful motivator for future success and helps build mutual trust and loyalty. Even though daily tasks were always ready to get in the way, we realised it pays off to create time and space for recognition.

On 15Five, Wagoneers have been able to tag the people that made a difference with their work and say thanks. We then noticed that recognition slowly moved from online to face-to-face: we began to see it during 9Day, our weekly Monday morning team catch up meeting, and in internal reviews before rolling out projects. 

Today, it’s become part of our culture to ‘say it out loud' when we appreciate someone for what they’ve done. This applies to both larger and smaller-scale projects.

It was only by understanding our team members’ personalities and needs that we managed to experiment with new methods, to then come up with our own system that complements everyone’s being and skills. 

We realised that cultivating openness is the best motivation booster in the long run. While it doesn’t just take a tool to do that, we found that implementing practical ways to make openness a tangible part of our culture made a real difference.