Culture is an element of work that can’t be overlooked. It’s vitally important for team culture to be intentionally crafted to build psychological safety and encourage collaboration. If done well, a great culture can retain talent and boost performance. Now what kind of team wouldn’t want that?!
Let’s begin by defining the term “team culture.” Tribe365 defines it as the shared passion for achieving a fixed outcome and the beliefs and values which develop within a group of individuals who have come together to achieve the fixed outcome. It is the magic combination of these values and beliefs, along with behavioral norms, that create the culture.
The first step in being intentional about building a team culture you and your colleagues want to be a part of is to gain clarity about the goal. The goal, or fixed outcome, must be understood by everyone. This allows people to choose how to behave, make decisions, and present themselves in a way that contributes to the desired team culture. A few key questions to address when setting expectations:
What is our primary objective as a team?
How do we want to feel when working together?
What are our most important values?
What is the team mission?
What are the corporate values?
What are the cultural differences between team
members? How can we embrace these differences?
Ideally, the answers to these questions and the elements of the team culture should be written down and visible to everyone on the team.
Leaders are responsible for setting the tone of the team culture. If a leader behaves in a way that contradicts the fixed outcome everyone agreed to, the culture will shift to be aligned with the behavior of the leader. Managers carry a heavy responsibility to exemplify best practices and energize everyone to contribute to the desired culture.
If you’re a manager or leader, consider scheduling touch bases on a regular basis to check-in with your team about how you can continue strengthening a positive culture. Being receptive to ideas and feedback will lead to open dialogue and progress.
If a colleague does something that exemplifies the desired team culture, mission, or values, give them public praise and acknowledgment. Consider sending out a team Slack message, highlighting their action in the next team meeting, or simply talking about what they did with others.
This not only makes that person feel good about themselves, but it also gives everyone else clear examples of expectations.
Finally, it’s important to realize that team cultures are fluid. They should evolve over time and adapt based on organizational restructuring, new responsibilities, changes in headcount, and a range of other factors. When setting the team culture priorities, let everyone know this is a starting point and the conversation will, and should, continue. It helps to schedule a semi-annual or quarterly team meeting to discuss any changes to the team culture. This shows your team that it’s a priority and keeps the momentum going.