Ideal Outcomes

How to Build a Strong Team Culture: Top 7 Tips

By Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer, Ideal Outcomes, Inc. 

The strength and quality of a company’s team culture has far-reaching and impactful effects on everything from its success and profitability to the perception of its brand in the marketplace.

But building and sustaining a positive team culture goes beyond just hiring, training, and retaining people with great skills.

It’s both an art and a science, but the rewards are compelling and well worth the investment in your time, energy, and resources.

In this article, we’ll outline what team culture is, why it matters, and seven actionable steps you can take to ensure that yours is a winning and resilient one.

What Is a Team Culture?

Academic definitions aside, company and team culture essentially embody how the people in your organization feel about working together, including their actions and attitudes towards one another.

The nature of this culture influences the behavior of teams and groups while informing what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

The Importance of Building a Team Culture

We all know the phrase, “no man is an island.” And it couldn’t be more relevant in the modern world of work. In our digital, always-on business environment, the quality and frequency of connections between colleagues couldn’t be more important or fragile.

With many people now working remotely or in geographically dispersed teams, ensuring mutually constructive, productive, and respectful professional relationships within an organization takes on even greater significance.

Without positive teamwork, the job won’t get done – or at least to the required quality standards and within the desired timeframes. And if that happens, you’ll pay the price through poor customer experience and diminished revenues.

How to Build a Great Team Culture

The thing to remember about team culture is that it’s an intangible asset and one that can’t be bought or “faked.” You have to be prepared to put in the work.

In our years of experience working with clients of various sizes and industries, Ideal Outcomes has identified seven critical steps to building strong team cultures.

1. Define your Ideal Team Culture

It’s impossible to build the team culture you seek if you don’t know what it looks like. So, the fundamental first step is organizing your thoughts. Document the kinds of team dynamics, behaviors, and outcomes you want to instill and sustain.

Collaborating with and gathering feedback from stakeholders from all levels in the organization are vital parts of this step. You need to give people a “seat at the table” in these discussions if you hope to win their support and enthusiasm for your culture-building efforts.

2. Learn from the Best

In crafting your team culture objectives, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel entirely. Research some companies that have set the gold marketplace standard in this area. For example, read up on the successes of companies like Google, Southwest Airlines, and Zappos.

Of course, every business is different. However, these organizations’ thinking and approaches will likely provide you with valuable food for thought when contemplating and formulating your strategy.

3. Create a Roadmap and Set Goals

Once you know what success looks like, you need to document and communicate your plan to all stakeholders and team members.

An essential part of this process is setting realistic, actionable, and achievable goals and milestones to measure your progress objectively. If you don’t formalize and share a simple scoreboard, people in your organization will make up their own ways of measuring success.

4. Lead by Example

Individuals and teams don’t exist in a vacuum. As a leader, it’s important to remember that people pay special attention to your words and actions. So, start as you mean to go on. Take care to demonstrate the desired teamwork attitudes and behaviors at all times when interacting with your executive colleagues and all other employees, irrespective of their level of seniority.Normal text.

If people don’t feel that the team culture agenda is genuine and taken seriously by those in the upper echelons of the organization, it’s unlikely that the broader employee base will pay more than basic lip service to it.

5. Set and Enforce a Zero-Tolerance Policy

Building a winning team culture requires being explicit about what constitutes unacceptable behavior. It’s critical to be consistent when enforcing these norms and being unafraid to call out people or teams who act contrary to them.

Examples of behavior that should never be tolerated include:

  • Any racial, age, or gender-based discrimination
  • Foul or abusive language to another team member
  • Gossiping
  • Dishonesty or non-accountability among any team members

6. Embrace Diversity

The wisdom of ensuring that diversity is at the core of your team culture strategy is well-understood for several reasons.

First, in our hyper-competitive digital world, embracing diversity in its broadest sense – in terms of ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, experience, and personality type – creates a fertile ground on which to build agile and innovative teams that can accelerate change. Employees will approach the same problems through a different lens based on their life experiences. Teams made up of people with different professional backgrounds and experiences tend to develop stronger plans.

Secondly, as part of your hiring strategy, it’s a good idea to look for a mix of outgoing extroverts and thoughtful introverts. Both types of people see the world differently and respond to similar situations in different ways.

7. Establish a “Culture Committee”

Culture committees can aid in establishing and maintaining a strong team or company culture in several ways. For example, they can articulate and demonstrate acceptable behaviors. They can also create and support recognition programs and celebrations as your organization sees cultural change successes.

Such committee members help increase accountability to defined cultural aspirations at all levels. In fact, they become culture champions, role models, and sustainment agents for the whole organization.

Culture committee team members also become your eyes and ears on the ground. They can lead employee discussions, lead focus groups, and generally create buy-in for what you want to accomplish.

Benefits of Building a Strong Team Culture

Ultimately, a strong team culture equates to a more loyal, productive, and happy workforce.

Equally, the absence of one will have the opposite outcomes. Business leaders who fail to acknowledge the importance of a strong team culture and work to develop one will soon experience the effects as employee churn increases and productivity decreases.

If you’re seeking support and guidance in building a great workplace culture and communicating it to all team members, Ideal Outcomes stands ready to help.

Our experts provide organizational development consulting, change implementation, talent management, coaching, diversity and inclusion, and cultural integration to businesses of all sizes.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help, please get in touch.