Team culture is a term often used in the workplace and media, but what does it really mean and how is it beneficial to your company?
In this article, we will define team culture, its meaning and advantages, but most importantly, how you can improve yours and reap its benefits.
Let’s break it down before we proceed to our guide to improving your team culture.
What is “Team Culture”?
We can define team culture as a collection of values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors shared by a team. It’s how people work together towards a common goal and how they treat each other. In our case, we are talking about the workplace, of course.
It is a concept that might be a bit complicated to understand, as it’s not just a set of written rules on a piece of paper, but rather about dynamics between humans. Different teams within the same company can abide by different team cultures. Although, they are usually influenced by the company as a whole.
Often, businesses claim they have a great team culture because they have a gaming room or other material perks on their premises. But objects do not make for good team culture, people do. The fact that you have a foosball table in your rec room doesn’t mean you won’t be surrounded by individualists, sexists or backstabbers.
That said, when the work culture in a company is weak, there’s a need for plenty of strict rules and guidelines in order to get results. On the other hand, where team culture is strong, it inspires people to work together, continually improve, do their best, and to support the strengths of their colleagues. And as such, create a more autonomous environment.
What are the main benefits of good Team Culture?
There are ample benefits to having a superior team culture than your competition.
Here are some long term team culture benefits, including:
- Increased employee engagement
Studies estimate that unhappy workers cost the US industry around $550 billion dollars a year. When lacking engagement, workers do not work at their full potential, often missing deadlines and bringing up the costs of the projects.
- Increased retention
High turnover in the workplace is a recurring problem that must be avoided at all costs. It’s expensive, time-consuming and counter-productive. Good team culture motivates employees to stay together and remain at their job.
- Increased productivity
We all have different strengths and weaknesses. In a team, strengths can complement each other to bring out the best results when focusing on key points on a given project.
- Better problem solving
People think differently, and when we work as a team, different viewpoints can bring out details that individuals may not notice on their own. When workers get credit for their ideas, it motivates them to do better and get innovative.
- Improved morale
In an office environment, gossip, negative attitudes, and complaining are the symptoms of poor morale. But when people that are a good cultural fit for each other working together motivates them to commit long-term and be generally happier.
These advantages of good team culture overlap and complement each other to create the best possible working atmosphere aimed toward growth and progress.
So are you ready to learn how to improve your team culture? Let’s head on to the next chapter!
How to improve team culture
1. Create a team-oriented organization
Introducing teamwork as your core company values will be your first step. Then, begin by putting a clear emphasis on self-managing teams that are empowered to make their own decisions.
Don’t just talk about teamwork. It’s not something that can be channeled through a memo once in a while.
Instead, show your employees the seriousness of your commitment by giving teams the authority to get their jobs done on their own terms. At the same time, ensure they accept responsibility for the results.
2. Assign serious team goals
Give your teams important assignments and projects, and make them feel they matter in the progress of the business.
Make your teams look at new trends in the market, and see the big picture through a set of new eyes.
It’s important to mix it up and not have the same people making the same decisions all the time. Allow them to challenge the conventional wisdom. This will help to keep your company fresh and ahead of the game.
3. Cross-train employees
When employees understand how different areas of the company work, they are able to make decisions that benefit the company as a whole, rather than solely their own department or group.
Give your employees the opportunity to learn about other people’s jobs. Some organizations go as far as switching employee roles on a weekly or monthly basis.
4. Get to know your team
It is important to take the time to get to know the people on your team. It may seem simple, but getting to know your team members will strengthen the team and build a great culture.
By developing relationships and getting to know your team members, you will begin to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and skills yet to be developed. A great leader understands how to draw out the talent around them. Take the time to learn how to motivate your team to go beyond what is expected of them.
5. Provide team-oriented ressources
No matter how coordinated and talented your team members are, they will not be able to achieve anything without the proper resources. Meeting in an overcrowded lunchroom will not get any meaningful results.
Collaboration software and extra office space might be expensive, but it will pay off in the long run by providing better productivity and growth.
And with the COVID-19 situation, employees now spend less time socializing with co-workers. As remote work and telecommuting become standard, companies have to plan for employees to spend more time away from their co-workers.
Hosting virtual events in addition to project meetings, like virtual coffee or team chats, can help boost morale and allow your workers to remain connected. Finally, sparse in-person meetings, with correct social distancing protocols will also help with conserving that precious team spirit.
6. Promote a culture of learning
Encouraging ongoing learning and goal achievement will help to prevent team members from becoming bored in their positions. It will also allow them to learn new skills which will add value to the team and workplace as a whole.
When everyone has access to the tools they need to be successful and move forward in their careers, they will be more engaged and will create a stronger work environment.
Developing a great team culture has a large number of advantages, as we’ve seen in this article. It is important to remember that at the heart of every great team are people, and understanding their dynamics will be your starting point.
Push team members to learn about each other and treat them like they matter. Find ways to encourage their self-esteem, ambition, independence, and desire for growth. This will lead to a better understanding of decisions, increased participation in meetings, thoughtful contribution in decision making, and a stronger sense of community.