Team Culture: 7 Short & Sweet Tips to Re-Energize a Team or Project
Do you feel it’s time to refresh things around your work team or project? Team culture is an opportunity to create a small tribe or to better align with your larger company culture.
Culture can be owned at every level in an organization. Building a Team Culture is not only possible, but creates high-impact: Changes can be meaningful, quick, and visible.
Implementing these 7 specific tips as a team leader, can foster a Team Culture of loyalty, passion, creativity, and stellar problem-solving.
7 Tips for Team Culture Building
Tip #1: Set the Culture Intention
Say: “I’d like our team to have a thoughtful discussion about creating our Team Culture – what we want it to be, and how we can create it .” Spending 15-20 minutes talking about it will energize the team. Important note: IF you do not currently have high trust on the team, or there are 1-2 people who dominate or don’t pull their weight – opening this conversation will raise hopes that you will deal with it.
Tip #2: Crowdsource Team Culture with the Team
- What kind of Team Culture do we have today? (Ask people to describe it in words, not sentences.)
- What Team Culture do we want? (What are the top 3 words, to describe the culture that would fulfill the team’s promise?)
- What specific actions can we take to support us in building an even stronger Team Culture?
- What Team Agreements do we need to help us create this culture? (eg, Safe Space, No Ideas Wrong, Speak Honestly.)
Invite people to brainstorm these on flip charts or virtual whiteboards (ie, visible). This will be more engaging to the whole team (versus asking the question and expecting people to speak up.) This avoids the same 2-3 people contributing, while everyone else stays silent.
Tip #3: Reboot Your Meeting Format
Meetings in business are usually like a trip to the dentist: Necessary but painful. Meetings are also the playing field for your culture: They make or break it.
- Use our PAD framework to ensure better meetings: Purpose, Agenda/Agreements/Actions, and Decisions.
- Revamp and refresh to achieve Shorter, more focused meetings.
- Allow time for every person to provide some personal input: Each person says “Something I’m proud of this week.”
- Plan for participation in the meeting – ie, Create one specific question each week and do Round Robin (short answer from each person, or in small groups if the team is over 6-8 people.)
- Start and end on time. (Assign a timekeeper!).
- Have a clear goal and agenda.
- Remind people of your Team Agreements visually or verbally. Use a nerf ball for violaters, to keep it light and fun.
Tip #4: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Tribes need tribal customs, whether in business, sports, or families. People bond together and get more done when they socialize and share positive time together. (We are hard-wired for this.) Sharing food and drink together is the ultimate way to create connection. As the leader, show an interest in the people on your team - their personal challenges, wins, dreams. Earmark time to eat and drink together and you’re creating a strong cultural climate for high performance.
Tip #5: Create Spirit-Lifting Symbols
Name a team mascot, and let him travel around the team based on who did something really cool during the week. Create visual reminders of your culture. What else will help people remember the desired culture you’re seeking to build? Ask the Team “How can we support this Culture, with tangible actions?” Implement a few of THEIR ideas.
Tip #6: Deal With Outliers
If you want the Team Culture to take hold, you’ll need to deal with behaviors that don’t line up with it. It’s not personal about any person, but it is about upholding clear expectations of the Team Agreements (Values). If you as the leader aren’t willing to do this, don’t begin the process of defining and creating a Team Culture. Creating hopes and expectations you won’t uphold, leads to disgruntled energy, disengagement, and ultimately good people leaving.
Tip #7: An Ounce of Feedback
If you are in a managerial role at any level, you are a coach. Every professional athlete knows coaching is the means to achieving high performance. (not remedial or punishment or “you’re in trouble.”) Your job as a leader, is to help each person improve their game. Younger generations want meaningful, relevant, timely feedback. One client of mine uses a peer-coaching format every week:
- Their team of 8 gives each other feedback using the ASK format: Actionable, Specific, Kind feedback to clear the air and set everyone on the right track.
- It’s now part of their Team Culture.
- There’s no hesitation or holding back what they need to do to up their game.
Implement these short, sweet Team Culture energizers and watch performance soar to new heights!