Teamwork and company culture: my guilty secret


I’ve got a guilty secret… 

I love karaoke. 

Always have. Always will.

The only problem is, I can’t sing.

But does it matter?

In this article, we’re looking at what karaoke can teach us about nurturing a company culture that encourages innovation and creativity. 

So let’s get started.

The history of singing 

Before we look specifically at what karaoke can teach us about building a team, we need to understand the importance of singing:

  • Cavemen sang songs.
  • And think about folk literature, too.

Oral history is passed down in song form. Singing is a communal activity. 

In cavemen times, it wouldn’t have mattered if you couldn’t sing well. 

You may have been a better hunter. Better with animals. Your skillset may have been stronger elsewhere. 

Do you think cavemen heckled each other? Of course not. They harnessed the power of the group.

You loved singing as a young child (until you become self-conscious). Then you either got over it or stopped because you found it embarrassing.

Singing is great for teaching. John (who works on all the policies at Reynolds HR) used to change the lyrics of well-known songs to help his Geography students remember key facts.

Music is so natural and ingrained in us that dementia patients remember songs and music far longer than they remember people. 

When my Grandma was 95, there was a party in her care home. She barely recognized her own sons. But when her friends visited her, she remembered all the Welsh hymns and even played the piano!

Karaoke is a team sport 

As a family, we are on our fifth karaoke machine.

In fact, we just treat ourselves to the latest one. 

The best money can buy. And it’s money well spent. 

Why? It’s not because of the number of tracks it stores or the quality of the microphones.

It’s because we do it together as a family most weekends (which is fantastic with a blended family of four teenagers). And we often do it with friends, too.

(We’ve tried it in public but aren’t keen. Not because we’re shy, but because we don’t like waiting ages for our turn!)

People often say how lucky we are that all the kids get on so well. 

But it’s not luck at all. 

And here’s our first lesson: we get on because we do stuff together. We are a team. We have fun.

Now imagine if you could harness that feeling in your team.

What difference would that make to your business?

Lesson 1:  Better ideas

Now let’s get into some key points to take away from this article. Starting with allowing your team space to come up with good ideas. 

See, the best ideas come to you when you’ve had a break. 

When your brain is rested and feels safe, it’ll throw ideas at you that you may never have had sitting at your desk.

I’ve had so many good ideas while singing karaoke. This article is one of them!

So factor in time to give your team some rest and let them surprise themselves with great ideas.

Lesson 2: Trust

When you grab the mic and sing karaoke, you’re putting yourself out there.

You’re vulnerable. 

And so when the group you’re with are supportive (even if you’re terrible), that makes you feel brilliant. 

It’s nothing ground-breaking to say that singing karaoke is easier after a few drinks. That’s due to the chemicals alcohol releases. 

Trust releases the same chemicals. The chemical itself is oxytocin, which is significant because oxytocin increases during childbirth and breastfeeding.

You see? Oxytocin is what bonds us to other people.

Trust is fundamental to relationships and the more trust felt, the more oxytocin is released.

You should create an environment where your team aren’t afraid to ‘grab the mic’ and put themselves out there. 

To feel trusted, and to trust your team, is fundamental to a thriving company culture.

Whether that’s speaking up in a meeting, raising concerns or sharing ideas, it’s absolutely crucial they feel trusted and can trust others. 

Lesson 3: Innovation is key

In a karaoke session, you can’t sing the same song someone else just sang.

Everyone knows that.

You have to pick your own songs.

Put your stamp on it.

And that’s similar to innovation. 

Karaoke demands you push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new.

Nobody wants to just hear the songs you’re good at. They want to hear you completely butcher a Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston classic every now and then. 

In order to survive in today’s commercial world, innovation is key.

Nothing is new. Change (or pivoting) is constant. Creativity and innovation are essential. 

So creating a culture that puts this at the centre is everything. 

Diverse songs on the karaoke are more fun.

A diverse team is more innovative and profitable. 

Lesson 4: Low consequence 

So you missed a line? 

Forgot the words to the song?

Or after 30 seconds realised you don’t know the tune as well as you thought you did?

So what?

It’s karaoke. It doesn’t matter.

You can blame the microphone, the song, the karaoke version you chose, anything you like. 

There’s no real consequence to messing it up. 

Create a culture that mirrors this. 

A culture that gives people the confidence to try new things and make mistakes. 

The braver your team is, the more innovative they’ll be.

The more boundaries they’ll push, the better your business will be. 

Lesson 5: Be who you want to be

Karaoke allows you to become your heroes for 3-5 minutes.

It gives you a chance to be the person you’ve always wanted to be. 

Not all of us are confident and outgoing, but singing karaoke, some people really come out of their shells.

It makes us feel good. 

So create an environment where people feel good, and they’ll be happier at work (and perform better).

Would you like to discuss how to build a solid company culture so that your team’s best day becomes their every day?


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