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The Unconventional Guide to Work

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How To Develop a Team Culture More Cult-Like Than Crossfit

Feeling uninspired by your company culture? Do you groan every time someone mentions the long-winded values and principles your business was founded upon? Is your culture hidden behind a series of trendy buzz words and a few well-intentioned but awkward office morning teas? Lots of businesses struggle to develop a contagious high-energy culture that motivates and rallies their employees.

And say what you want about the (sometimes controversial yet undeniably successful) global phenomenon of CrossFit, but you can’t argue that its culture is iron-clad. A thing or two could be learned from these muscled, scantily clad men and women.

So how do you create a culture that’s as addictive, high energy and all-encompassing like CrossFit?

 01 – Make a manifesto and recite it religiously

“We go hard. We get results. We are resolute. We aren’t just fit. We are CrossFit”
–CrossFit Manifesto

Your manifesto is your chance to blow your own trumpet – and loudly. It is a statement of purpose or belief, capturing what your business really stands for. Manifestos can be as long or short as you like – but the best ones are catchy, inspirational and brimming with an intent and energy that your teams can really get behind.

You can create relevant hashtags and encourage employees to share them on social media, promote the manifesto in the new starters’ induction kit or even proudly display it around the business as custom artwork.


02 – Create some fun team names

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships" – Michael Jordan

The Fearsome Foursome. The Dynamic Devs, The Carefree get the idea. Team names are an awesome way of uniting people, cultivating friendly rivalry and creating a sense of belonging within the organisation. Make the names fun and relevant to what the team does. Think of words that denote speed, power and efficiency. This
Crossfit name generator is a great place to get started.


03 – Get yourself branded uniforms!

“The uniform makes for brotherhood” – Robert Baden-Powell

Got some tees emblazoned with inspirational slogans, or lines lifted from your manifesto? Congratulations, you’re officially BADASS.

04 – Set a daily “WGOD” i.e. Work Goal of the Day

“I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time” – Michael Phelps

Much like Crossfitters complete a daily “WOD” or “Workout of the day”, your own “WGOD” can be a great way of setting new priorities on a team level every day. Whether you choose to display it physically – for example on the office whiteboard – or update it remotely on your intranet, it’s a great way to ensure everyone is working to the overall goal/vision.


05 – Get your game face on

“Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is everything” – Vince Lombardi

Encourage some healthy competition at your workplace. For example, you could hold weekly sprints for smaller teams or individuals (“heats”) or host an annual event (“Games”) between regional offices or teams (“affiliates”).


06 – Light up the leaderboard

“We are really competing against ourselves, we have no control over how other people perform” – Pete Cashmore, Mashable

Take number 5 one step further. Who doesn’t love the idea of a giant LED screen posting live scores and updates for everyone to see? This is sure to bring out people’s natural competitive nature. There are multiple metrics you can measure and score – e.g. average performance, efficiency, productivity, sales targets etc.


07 – Cultivate your own language

“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Finally the excuse you’ve been waiting for to develop your own inclusive, somewhat secret language. Take a page from the Crossfit dictionary and get your TLAs sorted (“Three letter acronyms” for the uninitiated). Why waste words when you can use abbreviations! A knowing wink and a signoff “@CM” (“At The Coffee Machine”) is all you really need.


08 – Encourage people to become a “coach”

“If you want to be happier, make others happy” – Crossfit Sayrsville

Many Crossfit athletes turn their attention to coaching others. After an intensive training course they become a certified Coach and can pass on their skills, enthusiasm and passion to other members. The culture grows others – and yours should too. Every team needs a leader, and empowering people to empower others is one of the best ways to grow a successful, motivated workforce.


09 – Adopt a fail better mentality

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career...I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

True athletes know that failure is part of the process. In a professional setting, instilling this behaviour will ensure your team tries harder, always pushes for the best result, takes accountability for their mistakes, and ownership of their learning.


10 – Know that practice makes perfect

“My advice is very simple. If you want something, work your ass off for it” – Camille Le Blanc Bassinet

We know that success takes hard work, dedication and practice. Best-selling author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell coined the idea that it takes “10,000 hours” of practice to achieve mastery in any given field. So armed with this knowledge, encourage the team to put in the required time and effort (maybe some sweat…) to achieve their goals.


And a bonus fun one to end on, because the culture of Crossfit keeps giving...

 11 – Make punctuality a thing

“Rather the pain of discipline, than the pain of regret” – Bob Andrews

Any group fitness class will tell you – lateness is not tolerated. You can incorporate a fun way of instilling this behaviour e.g. for every minute an employee is late, they have to do 5 Burpees or Pushups. You’ll be surprised at how quickly people start arriving early, even to meetings!


So there you have it – fun ways of instilling a culture that will quickly . What are your top tips for developing a great company culture.


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