Building team level culture within a larger organization: how to get the most from your team

Daniela Gomez
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February 18, 2020

A key element for success is building strong teams that concentrate on teamwork. A team that takes ownership of their contribution and how they work together will have a clear shared vision and will constantly seek ways to improve. Therefore, it is important to not underestimate the importance of building a great team culture.

Often when people come into leadership roles, the team has already been created. That means you have to adapt your preconceived ideas to fit the existing team’s preferences and capabilities. Other times, leaders are given the opportunity to create their own team. This can happen for a variety of reasons, whether you find people in various departments or create a completely new department. We will discuss the basics of how great team culture is developed and techniques for incorporating them in the workplace, whatever position you find yourself in.

  • 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. Some examples are doing things like celebrating birthdays, promotions, and holidays with your team. Encourage camaraderie by having occasional potlucks or eating lunch together. 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.
  • Create a bigger vision around great team culture: An important part of developing a strong team is having a group of individuals who are focused on a collective effort greater than themselves. A compelling purpose is a key element in building a strong team. People cannot simply be forced to take part in a team; they need a desire to belong and contribute. So the most important job of any leader is to clearly create a vision and plan how the team will achieve it. The members of the team need to understand how their contribution fits into the bigger picture. Reinforcing the bigger vision of the team is something that has to be continually done. It cannot be said once and then forgotten; leaders need to find ways to infuse this sense of purpose on an ongoing basis for the continued growth and productivity of the team.
  • Regular and meaningful meetings: Having a regular meeting will make a big difference in great team culture if there are purpose and engagement with the team. Regular meetings will build rapport, encourage productivity, and bring the importance of improving the team to the forefront. By scheduling the meetings in advance and getting everyone familiarized with the agenda before the meeting begins, everyone can discuss each topic and participate in a more effective way. Remember that a great leader speaks last. Listen to your team before providing your opinion. Finally, don’t meet for the sake of meeting – this can have the opposite effect. Meetings without purpose can be disengaging and frustrating for employees.
  • Provide feedback: Proactive, constructive feedback is one of the best ways to help your team continue to improve. Don’t over-complicate this process; feedback is often more impactful when it is informal and a natural part of an ongoing dialogue. No two people are the same and the method for delivering feedback should not be the same for every person either. This is another reason why it is so important to develop relationships with your team members; when the people on your team trust you, they will take your suggestions to heart because they know you have their best interests in mind. Instead of waiting until a problem occurs and then giving feedback, develop a habit of regularly letting your team members know how they are doing and what areas they could improve. Allow this communication to be a two-way street; take the time to listen as well.
  • Promote a culture of learning: Promote a culture of learning where every person is encouraged to continue expanding their skill sets. This can be done by providing access to ongoing training and personal development. Offer access to online courses and create opportunities for team members to take on new responsibilities. 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 culture for your team will enable success and attract more talent. It is important to remember that people are at the core of every great team, so it is necessary to understand the dynamics of how they work. Treat the members of your team like they matter and are not just tools for the organization to use. Find ways to promote self-esteem, creativity, freedom, 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.