The success of any organisation—from large companies to small businesses—hinges on the quality of its team culture. Team culture is the collective behaviours, values, practices, and beliefs of a particular group of individuals which impacts the workplace environment. As such, the best leaders are familiar with the ways work culture can affect a team’s morale.
Negative culture creates a toxic environment that causes team members to feel undervalued, unsafe, and unproductive. On the other hand, a positive culture can increase motivation, foster open communication, build healthy work relationships, and keep team members happy and engaged. It can boost overall productivity and employee satisfaction.
To retain top talent and keep your team efficient, you’ll need to create a culture that makes them eager to attend work each day. Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of planning, time, and patience—it also requires specific skills.
Leadership coaching is a crucial part of building a great team culture. A good leadership coach can hone existing strengths and instil the skills you need to create a positive workplace environment. These include communication, practising empathy, and building trust with your team.
That said, you may want a head start in creating your team culture before receiving training from an experienced coach. To help you out, below are five small steps you can take to inspire productivity, teamwork, and happiness within your team:
Define Team Roles, Values, and Expectations
Every team needs a purpose. It’s the guiding force behind your team culture, as it keeps everyone on the right track to achieving their goals. Team members can feel listless, confused, and alienated without a clear purpose. After all, you can’t expect your team to work well if they don’t know what they’re working towards—or why they’re doing it.
Giving your team a sense of purpose will keep them motivated by reminding them that they are part of something concrete and worthwhile while defining the “why,” ensure that you clarify team roles, values, and expectations. This way, everyone is made aware of what’s expected of them, which prevents misunderstandings and conflicts of interest.
Trust is a core element in a positive team culture, which is why coaches help leaders practice active listening and open communication with their team. Without trust, you and your team will have difficulties collaborating authentically. When team members trust one another, they can freely express their concerns because they feel safe and know that any issues will be taken seriously. It encourages transparent and honest communication, an essential skill for effective conflict resolution and teamwork.
Practising kindness and respect is one of the simplest ways to start building a positive team culture. While this seems like an obvious step, it’s sometimes easy to forget when work gets hectic. Compassion and understanding should not be withheld, even when your team has a lot on its plate. They need more kindness than ever to stay motivated during stressful situations. It is why leadership coaches emphasise the importance of developing empathy, so you can better understand and accommodate the needs of your team during trying times.
It is almost impossible to remain motivated when you feel unappreciated or believe your work doesn’t have a meaningful impact. For your team to flourish, each member should feel like they’re making a difference. Coaches encourage leaders to acknowledge the contributions of their team members for this reason. Recognising individual efforts helps team members develop a sense of belonging, as it reminds them that they’re valuable assets to the team and the whole organisation.
On that note, you don’t have to give extravagant prizes or hold formal ceremonies to show appreciation for your team’s efforts. Remember, a simple acknowledgement or commendation—like saying “good work” or “you did a great job on this project”—can go a long way.
Engage in Activities That Build Camaraderie
One part of building a positive team culture is fostering a sense of camaraderie between team members within and outside of the workplace. They should gain the opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper and more human level. As such, you’ll need to create more opportunities for them to bond and enjoy each other’s company.
For example, you could host team vacations, parties, and wellness programs. However, it’s worth noting that simple activities also work well. It is why many leadership coaches include planning team-building activities as a part of their programs. Sometimes, all it takes to create long-lasting bonds is a small icebreaker or energiser before every meeting.
Establishing a solid and consistent team culture takes a lot of time and work, and it’s best to hire an experienced coach to help guide you through the process. That said, this doesn’t mean you can’t take the preliminary steps for creating a better work environment with a positive culture of productivity and excellence by giving your team a purpose, establishing trust, strengthening camaraderie, and showing kindness and appreciation.