18 September, 2023

Cultivating a Winning Team Culture: The Keys to Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Leighton Healey

The new generation of workers seeks a workplace environment and culture that goes beyond superficial perks like pizza parties and happy hours. They crave something more meaningful, a place where their individual passions, quirks, and "weirdness" can thrive, and this requires a coordinated and thoughtful approach from the top down.

In our new book, "Winning with Workers," we explore the eight proven principles that successful disaster restoration companies use to win with their workforces and build a strong team culture to attract and retain top talent.

Today we're diving into Principle #1: Create a Weird Culture. We know that a culture that promotes employee satisfaction and attracts top talent is key, and we've got some practical steps for you to follow. By embracing your team's quirks and passions, you can unlock their full potential and boost your bottom line. Trust us, and these insights will help you create a culture that inspires your team to shine. And if you're still hungry for more insights from top restorers, you can download a copy of Winning With Workers here.

What is Team Culture?

In our State of the Industry Report in 2022, business leaders were asked about the unique benefit that helps their companies attract and retain frontline staff. The answer was resoundingly clear: team culture. But what does team culture really mean?

Imagine being deep in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, surrounded by an untouched Amazonian tribe. Everything about their culture is different from what you're used to - their language, clothing, work ethic, rituals, and food. You feel like an outsider, unable to fully grasp their ways.

Similarly, strong team cultures within companies can feel equally distinct to newcomers. Seasoned employees can quickly spot actions that go against the team's values and let them know that "that's not how we do things around here." These teams develop their own unique work style and behaviors, setting them apart from outsiders.

Being part of a vibrant and distinct culture fulfills a deep need within today's workforce. It provides a sense of belonging, akin to finding one's own tribe. When employees feel this sense of belonging, they become more dedicated and committed to your company.

But culture is more than just language, customs, and traditions. It encompasses how teams interact, handle conflicts, and foster a sense of belonging. A strong team culture doesn't happen by chance - it requires intentional cultivation and nurturing. Like tending a garden, a team culture needs constant care to thrive.

Every Business Has a Culture - But Not Every Culture Is a Good One

Whether intentional or not, every business, department, and even family has its own culture. It's a group of people who share a common language, customs, and traditions. But culture is more than just that.

It's how teams interact with one another, how they handle conflicts, and whether they have a sense of belonging. A strong team culture doesn't happen by accident. It's intentional, cultivated, and nurtured. It requires guiding principles and daily efforts. Just like tending a garden, a team culture needs constant care to thrive.

“Our culture flows from the mission and vision that defines our purpose. When you encounter something you're truly passionate about - it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill. When your employees pick it up, the culture grows faster and faster each day.”
- Alexus Neidert, Head of Brand and Culture, Thomasville Restoration

Think about your own team's culture. Has intentional thought gone into shaping it? Or has it become like an overgrown garden full of weeds, choking the potential of your team members?

In the following section, we will explore some of the key principles and actions necessary to create a strong team culture that brings fulfillment to workers and attracts top talent. But remember, it all starts with intentionality.

Ask yourself: What are the goals, priorities, and guiding values your company aspires to achieve? What kind of culture is needed to produce, nurture, sustain, govern, and protect the people needed to achieve those goals?

Cultural Gardening

To create a unique, sticky, and weird culture for your company, consider it like cultivating and caring for a garden in your backyard. Beautiful gardens full of good fruits and vegetables don’t form on their own - they take intention, dedication, persistence, problem-solving, watching the weather, and a clear vision of what you’re trying to grow. With that said, here’s how you start building a weird culture:

1. Find Your Gardeners

Identify team members who embody your values and empower them to become culture builders. You can think of them as "Culture Influencers." Involve them in clarifying your values, establishing traditions, launching initiatives, and influencing how your team values are lived out daily. These people are often top contributors, and this will require you to give them some margin in their week for this. If they are the right culture builders, they will make time.

2. Know What You Can Grow, and What You Can’t

Assess your leadership team and the makeup of your company. Be realistic about what aspects of team culture will work and what won’t be based on the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Like gardening, curating a strong team culture requires planning, consistency, and lots of weeding along the way. Tailor your culture to be realistic and exciting for the group you have. People today know when you are faking it and when you are being inauthentic. But they also know when you are trying something new with genuine intentions.

3. Prepare the Foundation

As the leader, it’s your responsibility to set the stage for the culture to grow. Make your values and non-negotiables explicitly clear. Ensure that those with influence in the company understand the importance of culture to the company’s success and their own. Set a date. Going forward, team members are praised and disciplined based on their ability to live out the company values.

4. Plant the Right Seeds

Once you’ve defined your values, instill them into the team by creating daily, weekly, and monthly rituals that provide a ‘lattice’ for the culture to grow on. Take the lead and kickstart these rituals to get them going in the right direction. Do not hand them off unless you know for certain the new leader shares the values and you have observed them in action.

5. Nurture and Weed

Like tending a garden, caring and tending to your team culture on a consistent basis is non-negotiable - and rarely convenient. Regularly assess areas of concern, adapt as needed, and allow the culture to evolve as the team evolves. If you are hiring the right people, they will eventually want to become ‘culture contributors’ and have an influence.

6. Protect Against Pests

Recognize that some individuals may be bad cultural fits within your team. Tolerating them can negatively impact the good cultural fits and push them away or lead to disengagement. Strengthen and protect your culture by offering bad cultural fits an opportunity to align themselves with the company values, and if they can’t, help them transition to a company to find their tribe elsewhere. The leaders who have made these tough decisions have found that their team feels relieved and gain a deeper respect for the integrity of their leader’s commitment to follow through on their promises.


By treating your team culture like a garden, you can build a unique, healthy team environment that nourishes the right staff and attracts the right talent. However, this article only scratched the surface of the valuable insights and actionable steps provided in "Winning with Workers."

In "Winning with Workers," we dive deep into the eight principles that can help you create a winning team culture and retain top talent in the disaster restoration industry. You'll not only discover what to stop doing, what to start doing, and what to invest in but also gain a profound understanding of how these eight principles can transform your team and your business. This comprehensive playbook offers a roadmap for developing a strong, vibrant, and unique culture that sets your company apart from the competition.

Download our newest book today to dive deeper into this topic and explore the remaining principles. With this invaluable resource in hand, you can lay the groundwork for a thriving and successful company that attracts and retains the best talent in the industry.

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