Industry Insights

How to Build a Winning Team Culture

Posted by John Wills on Oct 25, 2022 10:03:23 AM

In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide to creating a team culture that not only performs well but leads to consistent and sustainable growth, development, and victories. Nobody wants to be a flash in the pan, we want merited rewards and noticeable growth. So here, we will provide some quick team culture hacks that you can start applying now to build momentum.

How to Apply this Culture Change Guide

This guide should be seen as a way of shaping your company or corporate culture, implementing ideas and changes smoothly to avoid friction, whilst also remembering that every organization is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

For leaders reading this guide, you must remember that creating a winning team culture is a long-term strategy and change won’t happen overnight. Frustration and disappointment will not serve as motivators, instead, you will need to lead, encourage, and find the positives.

What is a Winning Team Culture?

Team culture, to begin with, is when a group of professionals or teammates share their beliefs, values, and attitudes, and can use this alignment for positive and progressive impact. Some businesses have a culture of customer service, others place diversity above all else, and others may place employee development at the forefront of their team culture. 

A winning team culture emerges when all of these things work perfectly in harmony, resulting in impressive levels of collaboration and innovation, genuine respect among colleagues, and a motivated, engaged, and committed team. A winning team trusts, shares, communicates, and supports. 

A losing team culture, or a toxic one, is where employee turnover is high, infighting is prevalent, employees are unproductive, and frankly, nobody wants to be there. Let’s help you make sure that never happens!

Step One: Find the THREE Most Important Values

Building a team culture without defining your core values is like building a ship by starting with the sails. You, as a leader, have four options when it comes to this step, and it’s pretty simple.

  1. Lone Wolf: You know the company better than anyone and, therefore, are most qualified to define the key values
  2. Democratic Leader (recommended): You already have a good rapport with your team and you trust their insights and opinions. You brainstorm with them and collaborate to find the values together.
  3. Pre-existing: The values have already been well established by the business, at least in principle. You redefine them and double down on making sure they have true meaning.
  4. Copycat Culture: Look at businesses you admire, ones that work well and are renowned for their culture. Do your research and build your desired winning team culture around aspirations.

Keep your values to just three things - any more and they may become convoluted.

Step Two: Understand What Makes a Team Player

Now, values might not be the issue. Rather, the problem may be that people don’t really know how to implement them, or whether they should at all. What’s important to do here, with the winning team culture values defined, is to draw up key examples of how these values are delivered. 

Here’s an example:
An organization defines collaboration as a key value. Instead of working in silos and independently, the company creates improved communication channels, opportunities for strategic teamwork, and hosts workshops and business simulations to get people thinking as part of a team and not as individuals. They may even give special dispensation to internal committees and clubs as a way of improving and displaying effective collaboration.

Step Three: Begin Implementing the Winning Team Culture

Instead of dropping a few bullet points in an email and hosting an unwanted meeting or Zoom call, you’re going to have to run your team culture changes as if it were a campaign.

  1. Start by gently letting employees know that the company will be working on its approach to culture and that you hope to earn the support of its important team players
  2. Make sure your communications are dialogue and not instructions. Ask for feedback, refine ideas, and win buy-in by asking the right questions to drive desired answers
  3. If you can, make it a free lunch so that employees are pleased to be there
  4. Be an example of the values you set, lead by doing, not by saying, and hold yourself to a high standard
  5. Be kind, considerate, and deliver constructive feedback. This is a marathon, not a sprint

It’s important to understand that if you’re trying to change a culture that has already been long established, each of these steps will take longer.

Step Four: Review the Processes, Systems, and Tools in Place

You might not have considered it, but the same systems that are being used day-to-day right now might be hindering your organization from having a winning team culture. 

It could be that the processes you use don’t help people to communicate or collaborate. Alternatively, training on team culture could have been overlooked since… forever! It might be time for a complete overhaul.

Step Five: Embrace Reality with Regular Feedback

Creating a winning team culture is clearly important to you, but it’s not going to be as easy as suggesting a few changes and waiting for things to happen. Implement, review, implement, review. It’s going to take high comms and a lot of commitment. 

Try not to overload your staff or make expectations unrealistic, and consider that the changes are designed to make the workplace a happier and more enjoyable place to be. 

Ask your team how it’s going, what you can change, what’s working and what isn’t, and keep them as involved as you can in this culture change. If they buy into the vision and have feedback, it’s a good sign. 

Now, as promised, some team culture hacks that you can start thinking about implementing right away…

Team culture hack one

Create opportunities for shared experiences that can build rapport.

- Drinks after work

- Going for lunch together

- Non-work-related activities

Team culture hack two

Include everyone in the culture change, from the CEO to the intern. You want everyone to be a champion of this evolution, not just the employees you have the most contact with.

Team culture hack three

Keep comms analog. Digital communications like email lack the tone, context, and importance of delivering information face-to-face. Avoid email when making cultural changes. By all means document proposed changes, update the website, and keep track of any potential metrics, but try to make culture change what it is - human development. 

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