One of the hardest things about being in a leadership position is trying to drive a positive culture in your team.
Team culture can make (or break) how productive, effective and engaged your staff are.
By the most basic definition, team culture is the values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours shared by a team. It’s how people work together towards a common purpose and how they treat each other.
A team that takes ownership of how they work together they will have a strong shared vision and will continuously search for ways to improve. Some of you will dismiss this as just the latest fad but do not underestimate the importance of building a great team culture and your role in leading it.
You can’t force people to be part of “the team”, they need to want to belong and contribute. Everyone needs to understand their role and how they contribute to what the group is trying to accomplish. Staff that feel part of something and know how they are contributing to a higher goal are more engaged and therefore more willing to go the extra mile.
The first step is to be able to articulate the type of culture you want to build (you should read my article about creating your team culture). As a team, you should consider how you want to work together, what you value, your purpose, and how you will achieve it as a group.
Once you have determined your culture, there are a few things you can do to help maintain it.
It seems so simple but creating an environment where people in a team can work together helps to create great team culture. Create small cross-disciplinary teams to work on projects together. Allow people to offer help to each other, even if it means some of their work doesn’t get delivered. Create the space and encourage your team to work, as a team.
Having a regular meeting will make a big difference in building and maintaining a great team culture. Regular meetings build rapport, encourage productivity, and allow time to focus on ‘the team’. In my last team, we had fortnightly team meetings, and if we had large projects or an event running, we would hold daily ‘war rooms’.
Celebrate the wins
Celebrate the good times as a team. It helps to reward staff and recognise their hard work while also sharing outcomes with the broader group. It shows that as a leader, you do not take their hard work for granted.
Ask other team members to nominate each other, so it is also about peer recognition. Once a week, my team would hand out a gnome (I know it’s a bit weird!) it was like a trophy and whoever received it the week before had to award it to a colleague for something they had achieved that week. It made that person pay particular attention to what their colleagues were up to and became a tradition that we loved.
Enjoy spending time together
Get to know team members, not just their work, but what is happening in their personal lives. Team members that have a personal connection with each other will form a stronger bond and connection. In our team, we had babies, marriages, relationship breakdowns, project deliveries, birthdays, graduations – and they were team milestones, we were all there for all of them. Every Friday we stopped and talked about the week (and drank wine) everyone decompressed and talked about their weekend. It was our time to reconnect with each other.
Each member of the team from the top down must establish a level of trust. Sure some people don’t respond to emails or are late to meetings, you don’t have to love everyone you work with. But creating a level of trust with each other is critical to being able to work effectively together. We had a rule in our team, no matter what we back each other. We never throw each other under the bus. Trust allows for more open communication, more regular feedback, better relationships. If trust is not part of your culture, you may not succeed.
A note for those people who are not team leaders: Most people think the manager sets the culture of the team and it’s true they have a huge part to play, but it’s not just on them. Everyone in the team needs to be guardians of the culture. You need to know what it is and own it. Don’t just wait for it to come to you, you are part of this team help to create the culture you want to work within.
Do you need to new plan to energise your team culture? Need a tune-up? Not sure where to start. Samantha Sutherland and I have partnered to bring you a team building day that will get you started. Give us a call to find out more.