• Cathy Sheppard

Team work really can make your dream work!

This might seem like a really simple place to start, but over the last few years there has been such importance placed on team culture, and rightly so! But I don’t want this to become yet another article, laden with buzzwords that doesn’t really deliver anything of value – being in business, your time reading this is just as precious as mine writing it, so let’s not waste either ;)

I want to start by asking. What actually is team culture? Team culture in its most basic form is – the values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours shared by a team.

It’s seen in what they do, not just what they say.

Now, without turning this into a university sounding essay, let’s actually try and break that down a little more so we can understand the importance of having an effective team culture and the benefits that come from it (heck, let’s even look at what an effective team culture may look like! (probably the best place to start)).

Defining what effective team culture is can be a relatively hard thing to pinpoint, as culture is something we don’t think about. It’s something that we learn from watching the people around us (after all, humans are social creatures and learn through observation and mimicking), and these behaviour patterns are often entirely undocumented. This means that when you enter a new place of work, whether you realise it or not, you will be observing those around you and picking up on their behaviour patterns and will eventually start behaving similarly. All in all, this creates dynamics between team members, creating culture.

So, what does an effective team culture look like? Going back to the definition, an effective team culture is one that has values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours at the centre of it. Sure, you can throw a pool table into the lunch area and have a ping pong table downstairs, but if you don’t have the matching culture to go with these, they ultimately become symbols for how much you really are falling short in this department.

This is because culture is about dynamics.

A pool table is not a dynamic. A dynamic is something that is shared between people. The pool table may facilitate a relationship with a colleague, maybe even aid in its nurture, but it isn’t the dynamic.

So, how do you build an effective team culture? Well, this is all about taking stock of where you are now and where you want to be. Sometimes it is about having those hard discussions and taking ownership. Do you and your team share the same vision and values? Are you all working towards a common goal? What behaviours are rewarded, and which are disciplined? What is the general attitude in the workplace, and how is everyone’s attitude toward their place in the company? My son was a hairdresser for a number of years, and while he loved his time as an apprentice, he watched many apprentices from other salons quit the industry due to poor team culture. They didn’t feel valued, and due to poor treatment from their senior stylists, often had a very negative view towards their place in the company, other team members and the company as a whole. As you can understand, this is not something a pool table could have fixed.

I honestly cannot stress enough that an effective team culture starts from the top.

If the upper management is ineffective, then it will filter down through the ranks, throughout the whole team. Being an open and effective leader will help to foster a good team dynamic and build open and trustworthy relationships. Team culture doesn’t just happen – you have to create it intentionally.

All and all effective team culture is about collaboration. Culture isn’t something that happens in a vacuum, it needs more than one person to be built and shared. This means that as a team with good leadership, you can decide what your team culture is. That way everyone has a hand in creating what they are going to be a vital part of. Everyone needs to be able to say that they have put something in, so that they have something to work towards, rather than just working towards someone else’s vision. It’s part of the buy-in that means people truly believe and engage with what you’re doing together, and that’s where the magic happens. A team with an amazing team culture can move mountains together. A toxic team just can’t.

BSI People Skills run great courses to help facilitate team culture building sessions. Our Workplaces that Work packages provides the perfect mix of products and workshops to help you and your team build and foster your individual relationships and dynamics, to turn it into a wider team culture.

Click on this link here to apply today or get in touch with one of our consultants to book your consultation!

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