Get. Things. Done. Foster a Hustle Mentality in Your Company Culture

By Carole Wehn

The last decade introduced many new business terms, including “side hustles” and the “gig economy.”  A recent survey on Zapier.com found that about a third of Americans report having a side hustle, and another 60 million people said they plan to add one this year. 

The average side hustler spends between 11 and 16 hours per week on a job that brings in less than $1,200 per month, but the job allows the worker to earn more disposable income on their terms. 

Typical side hustles include blogging, podcasting, crypto investing, e-commerce, and gig economy jobs like driving for Uber or Lyft.

While your workplace most likely is not a participant in this new business sector, the rise and success of the side hustle demonstrate how creative and resourceful people can be when they are motivated.

Entrepreneur Sujan Patel defines the “hustle mentality” this way:

“It’s a commitment to get ahead, no matter what, and never give up when faced with insurmountable challenges. It’s a resourcefulness and creativity in finding new methods of success.”

How can you encourage that “hustle mentality” in your company culture? There are three elements:

  • Commitment
  • Grit
  • Resourcefulness

Commitment

The starting point for someone who decides to pursue a side hustle is commitment.  After all, most people will only work additional hours if they are fully committed to the resultant income, success, or recognition.

Do your employees feel committed to your organization and its goals? 

Leadership and coaching professional Anush Kostanyan wrote in Fast Company:

“You can’t care and devote yourself fully to something that you don’t consider as yours. We have the same concept in the workplace too. If you decided to take initiative at work, then think about yourself as a team member.

This means that each success, each achievement of the organization is yours as well. Corporate prosperity will lead to your personal prosperity too. As soon as you establish this mindset, you will start caring about each detail and dedicating all your efforts to achieving profound outcomes.”

Encourage your team members to think and act like owners of the business.  While most employees feel a sense of responsibility and ownership of their assigned tasks, not everyone thinks more broadly about commitment to the organization’s overall success.

Help your team to see the connection between their work and how it moves the company forward.  Share your corporate vision and goals and create a linkage between departmental goals and the broader objectives. 

Share as much financial information as is appropriate and give them some stake in the outcome if at all possible.  Even small bonus programs that track financial impact can help people connect their actions to the corresponding results. 

Encouraging employees to take ownership is also demonstrated through empowerment.  Establish expectations for your employees and define success.  Let them know the desired result, and then trust them to work out how to achieve it.

Don’t overlook the power of recognizing success.  When cultivating a sense of ownership, congratulate employees on a job well done to reinforce their pride in their work.

Grit

Grit means never giving up and taking responsibility for seeing something throughJack Zenger noted in Forbes that taking responsibility differs from accountability in that:

”Being accountable means you are answerable and willing to accept the outcomes or results of a project or activity.

But responsibility goes much further. It is the mindset that says, “I am the person who must make this happen,” whether it stems from your belief or because your job requires this of you, or there is some social force binding you to this obligation.”

If you’re a self-employed hustler, you must take ultimate responsibility for the solution, even when you need to rely on others. You need to follow up on issues until you’re certain everything is complete.  There’s no opportunity to pass the buck.

However, in the typical workforce, employees may give up too soon.  There’s always a chance another department will address the problem, or the boss will step in and fix it. 

How do you encourage your team members to see an issue through to its resolution as if they were the only person working on it?

When working with employees on seeing issues through to completion, help them see the gap between just working on the situation and seeing that it’s resolved.  Ask questions such as:

  • “How do you know this is complete?”
  • “Have you checked the system to see that the issue is fixed?”
  • “Have you followed up with the customer to see that their problem was resolved to their satisfaction?”

The key is to get things done, not simply to work on them.  Ensure your metrics support this concept, and you are rewarding completed work.

Resourcefulness

Psychologist and author Sherrie Campbell says in her Entrepreneur blog post, “Six Characteristics of Resourceful People that Bring Them Success,”

“Resourcefulness is a mindset and is especially relevant when the goals you have set are difficult to achieve, or you cannot envision a clear path to get to where you desire to go. With a resourcefulness mindset, you are driven to find a way.

An attitude of resourcefulness inspires out-of-the-box thinking, the generation of new ideas, and the ability to visualize all the possible ways to achieve what you desire.”

Your workforce likely showed a resourcefulness mindset in adapting to COVID restrictions over the last year and a half.  Those who shifted to remote work had to learn how to work independently, perhaps in a less-than-optimal makeshift home office.  They needed to demonstrate more autonomy in figuring out how to get tasks done and resourcefulness in problem-solving. 

Those who remained in the workplace may have encountered fewer colleagues onsite. Issues may have become more challenging to resolve when one couldn’t just stop by someone’s desk and talk to them about how to fix the problem.

Your management style needed to evolve as well.  If you were a very hands-on manager, you had to let go and trust that work was getting accomplished in different places and different ways.  Employees needed to be encouraged to do whatever was necessary to solve problems and get the job done.

As your workforce comes back together or adopts permanent remote working conditions, encourage them to remain resourceful and creative as they continue to build on the skills they developed.

Instead of solving problems for your team members, ask, “What do you think you should do and why?”  This teaches them to think on their own. Listen to their ideas and act as a sounding board.

A great question to ask to encourage creativity and resourcefulness is to ask, “What if there were a $10 million bonus awarded for solving this problem?” An out-of-the-box question can lead to some out-of-the-box ideas.

Does Your Culture Encourage Hustle?

Take a look at your company culture. 

  • Does it encourage people to be resourceful and take initiative?
  • Are people supported when they take risks, or is the environment focused on assessing blame when things go wrong?
  • Is “because we’ve always done it that way” your standard operating procedure?
  • Are job roles and responsibilities like a coloring book where the employee must stay inside the lines?
  • Is creativity and going outside one’s job requirements rewarded in problem-solving?

At CultureWise, we encourage the hustle mentality through a behavior we call “Find a Way.” Our company culture is defined by a set of 30 “Fundamentals,” or statements of employee behavior that drive our success. The “Find a Way” Fundamental reads:

Take personal responsibility for making things happen. Respond to every situation by looking for how we can do it, rather than explaining why it can’t be done. Be resourceful and show initiative. Don’t make excuses or wait for others to solve the problem. See issues through to their completion.

Using a set of behaviors helps employees clearly see what is expected of them.  Rather than just telling employees, “We want you to be resourceful and take initiative,” we provide employees with tools to demonstrate what this looks like in action.  Managers are given coaching tips and discussion prompts to help reinforce the behaviors.

CultureWise offers a turnkey system to help you craft the culture you want to see in your organization.  The system is based on CultureWise CEO David Friedman’s book, Culture by Design. The book and system outline an 8-step framework which includes:

  1. Defining the employee behaviors (“Fundamentals”) that drive your organization’s success
  2. Ritualizing the practice of these Fundamentals
  3. Selecting people who are the right fit for your culture
  4. Integrating new employees into your culture
  5. Communicating your culture throughout the organization
  6. Coaching to reinforce your culture
  7. Leading your culture by example
  8. Driving your culture through accountability

Learn more about our process by exploring our website and downloading a free 2-chapter excerpt from Culture by Design.

Even better, listen to what one of our customers, KNF Neuberger, has to say about our system in this recent video interview.

Stay informed about company culture news and insights with a complimentary subscription to Culture Matters, the CultureWise blog.

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