by Ron Potter

Great Teams and Great Cultures require Consequences

I was talking with a colleague this week about lasting cultures.  He mentioned that the Mayo brothers died over 80 years ago but the culture they built is still in place.  Meanwhile, we’ve been associated with several companies where the culture deteriorated quickly.

One of the reasons for a lasting culture is clear and immediate consequences when team rules and cultural norms are violated.  And it doesn’t matter who violates the rule.

Immediate Consequences

I graduated from Michigan and was a fan of the Fab Five.  When Michigan hired Juwan Howard as the new basketball coach last year, I was thrilled.  Juwan also seemed to be thrilled to tears that he was “coming home” to Michigan.

But, it wasn’t long before his first test as a new college coach would come front and center.

Star player violates the team code

The Big Ten schedule was not yet a month old in his first year as a coach when something happened.  Michigan’s star point guard violated team rules.  After a hot start to the season, Michigan was now struggling and needed all of the players more than ever.

Coach Howard didn’t hesitate, he suspended the Star Player.

  • No delay
  • No leniency
  • No privileges

Coach Howard said the player had been suspended for “violation of team policies.  We have team rules and unfortunately he broke one of them.”

It didn’t make any difference that the team desperately needed it’s starting point guard right now.  He broke team rules and he was suspended!

Team and Corporate Rules

Do you have team rules?  Is everyone aware of those rules?

More importantly, does everyone know the consequences of violating those rules?  Will anyone and everyone be punished according to those consequences regardless of who they are, what position they hold, or how “indispensable” they are?

Are there consequences to breaking the rules, team or culture?

Without the consequence of rule violation, no team or culture will sustain itself.

Know what the rules are! Know what the consequences are!

Rules must be clear.  Teams and cultures must be committed to those rules. Without them, teams and cultures will never last!

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