When you hear “team culture,” your mind probably goes right to the culture of your own corporate team. If you’re lucky, you have a positive association with this term. But let’s say your first thought is, “Yikes, our team culture could use some work.”
What is team culture?
Consider this: your team culture is made up of the attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors shared by the members of your team. So, if even one team member has a bad attitude or negative behavior, the culture of your entire team is affected.
Now, just imagine if your entire team is struggling with these things. Naturally, you wouldn’t expect your team to operate successfully. Project completion will feel like pulling teeth, your clients will take note of this poor team culture, and the overall quality of the team’s work will suffer.
How to build great team culture
But here’s some good news: your team culture can be improved! It’s not set in stone; it can be built upon and improved.
And as a leader, it’s your job to set these changes in motion and provide a positive example to your team.
Define your ideal team culture
There are a lot of qualities that are ideal in almost any team culture. But when you can get really specific about yours, it will be easier to create.
When you define your ideal team culture, you can share these values with your team so they all know what’s expected of them.
Depending on your business, your ideal team culture could include things like:
- Serving the non-profit community is a common goal
- Checking egos at the door
- Your team values a culture that promotes learning and asking questions
- One of your team’s common goals or values is keeping diversity and inclusion top of mind
Set an example
It’s often said that a group or a team is only as happy or successful as their leader. If you want to improve your team culture, it starts with you.
As you work on improving your own attitudes, behaviors, values, etc., your team will take notice.
This requires some self-introspection.
- What kind of example do I set for my team?
- Do I react to stressors and situations the same way I expect my team to?
- Do I have negative beliefs or attitudes about certain things that should be reexamined?
As you make these changes for yourself, you’ll notice the entire culture of your team starts to follow suit.
Whether it’s in-person or online, it’s important to meet regularly if you want to build great team culture. While you may all be working toward the same goal, if you’re not all interacting or meeting, it’s hard to really feel like a team.
Regular meetings help make sure everyone’s on the same page. They also help build rapport and relationships within your team. And they even boost productivity!
Give your team notice for these meetings, and if possible, set them for the same time and day each week or month.
Open lines of communication
It’s important to establish clear and open lines of communication within your team. Maybe this means creating a team chat in Slack or offering your team members another way to connect. But once you are connected, it’s important to use these lines of communication for constructive feedback.
Rather than letting issues build and stew, discuss them right away. If you’re noticing one team member isn’t pulling their weight or they’re falling behind, address it sooner rather than later. The longer these issues go on, the more they’re likely to damage team culture.
Just as you need to offer feedback for areas that can be improved, you also need to give credit where credit is due.
When your team has a big win, celebrate it! The same goes for individual successes.
Anytime you can cheer on your team, consider this a great opportunity to build team culture.
Get to know your team
A team with strong personal yet professional bonds has a better chance of having a great team culture than those who strictly interact about business and know nothing about their team members other than their job title.
As a leader, you need to know your team members. At the same time, your team members should get to know one another.
Building these interpersonal connections is vital for creating open communication within the team. It also helps team members feel more comfortable and encouraged to share and speak up. These peer-to-peer relationships also go a long way for team problem-solving, supporting development, and providing opportunities for growth.
Remember: building a great team culture starts with you. When you set a positive example for your team based on your definition of positive team culture with open communication, constructive feedback, regular meetings, and strong bonds, your team will be more successful than ever.
I want to hear from you! What are your favorite ways to create and improve your team’s culture? Let me know in the comments down below.