Team culture is a phrase that we hear often at work, but how do you actually shape and improve it?
Every team is different, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. With that in mind, here are several practical ways to begin transforming your team’s culture. These ideas are designed to give your team pride, unity and purpose. They will also help you build trust with your employees by making them feel valued and appreciated. And, rest assured, you won’t find any forced morale-building events in this list.
1. Establish team values.
Hold a session to talk about values that are important for the team to succeed. Pick the top five and work them into everyday conversations. How you embrace and encourage these values directly impacts the culture you create for your team.
2. Develop team ground rules.
Bring the team together to create ground rules to guide group behavior. Ask open-ended statements to get them thinking and allow everyone to respond. Try these: “We will always do this…,” “We will never do this…,” “We will resolve issues this way…,” or “We will collaborate by…” Forming ground rules will give your workforce a sense of unity as core behaviors are defined for the success of the group.
3. Get feedback.
Hold one-on-one meetings with your employees and see what they think about the culture. Take time to humbly understand the current culture before making assumptions about it. This will give you a firm starting point with clear directions on how to move forward. Employees will feel valued when their input is welcomed and respected.
4. Capture what makes your team unique.
As a team, explore your abilities, your expertise and your uniqueness that enables you to achieve your mission. Capture who you are, what you do, and how you do it on a poster board and hang it proudly in your office. Visually displaying this reinforces your team’s exclusive purpose.
5. Try a new brainstorming technique.
Try a silent brainstorming session where everyone writes down their ideas in silence. When the timer is up, have each person read their ideas out loud without any input. Once everyone shares, open the floor to discussion. Creating a safe environment where everyone’s voice is heard is critical for cultural transformation.
6. Start a team wall of fame.
Dedicate an office wall for awards, certificates and trophies your team has earned. With many employees working from home, a virtual wall of fame could be a good alternative. Frame and hang that great customer review your team just received or that new marketing ad Julie and Mark designed. This wall will strengthen your team’s purpose and identity.
7. Give a wacky team award.
Initiate a fun, wacky award that team members can proudly show off. Make a big deal when awarding employees: “Emily gets to display this giant, ridiculous pen on her desk because she did a great job editing the website. Give her a round of applause!” You’ll notice this kind of spirited recognition will instill your employees with great pride.
8. Compliment each employee.
Give one compliment to each employee to showcase how their specific action made a big impact. Do this during a team meeting or with sticky notes. Praise them for masterfully handling a difficult customer, contributing a great idea in yesterday’s meeting or graciously welcoming a new team member to the office. Genuinely acclaiming these types of behaviors will consistently emphasize the kind of culture you want.
9. Have your team’s back when something goes wrong.
The biggest way to create a toxic environment is to blame your team when something doesn’t go right. Take responsibility for the mistake and have your team’s back. Determine how the team can learn from this setback. You will establish trust by doing this.
10. Make small wins a big deal.
Instead of getting lost in daily office routines, take a few minutes each day to celebrate one thing. When your people recognize that you deliberately choose to celebrate the little things, they will strive to achieve even bigger things.
You may also be interested in 5 Ways to Build Culture Remotely & What You Might be Missing and How to Build Successful Teams.
Tessie Davenport has served as a leader in the Department of Defense for the past ten years. Her breadth of experience includes creating successful teams, coaching, mentoring, and leading development programs. She has a B.A.S. in Information and Computer Security, a M.S. in Intelligence Management and is pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Management. She hopes to inspire new leaders and experienced ones by offering practical ideas to help them build positive cultures and grow their people. Tessie is happily married with three dogs and a cat. She loves to travel, hike, kayak and explore.