More and more, organizations are planning and working in teams. That’s an important fact to remember when talking about resource productivity and planning. Yes, heroes can and do save the day (and that’s just fine. As Michael Jordan said, “There’s no ‘I’ in team but there is in win.”). And yes, the “I”s in the team are just as important to nurture as the “We.” But there’s no doubt that having a great team culture can boost individual productivity and happiness, and improve the overall culture of the organization.
This article in Forbes by Molly Nuhring on Five Questions to Help You Guide Your Team’s Culture is a great place to start. Specifically, Nuhring points out five areas to consider. I’ve paraphrased below:
- Team escalations – The more the team escalates issues, the less effectively they’re operating as an empowered, decision-making team.
- Finding the influencers – The influencers in an organization aren’t necessarily in management positions. Identify them and make sure there’s vision alignment. Get their input in shaping the culture.
- Rewarding the right behaviors – Be careful what attributes you may be subconsciously (or consciously) rewarding. Note: I’d add that it’s a good idea to use team rewards to build a shared sense of commitment, while rewarding and encouraging individual behaviors as well. Just be careful to craft individual incentives that are counterproductive to team performance. It’s often more an art than a science, so it’s important to look at things in the context of both the team and the individuals.
- Watch Your language – Using the right vocabulary can make all the difference in a team’s culture. Using words like “compliance,” “mandatory,” “headcount,” etc., can set a certain tone, and it’s not a good one. So can phrases like, “No, that’ll never work” or “We’ve always done it this way.” Likewise, Nuhring points out that it’s not just language, but interaction and demeanor that you need to observe. Is there a sense of empathy on your team? Are people having fun? Do they feel comfortable sharing ideas? I’d add that language can often influence this.
- Fix One Thing at a Time – Find out what the one thing is that’s holding your team back culture-wise and focus on that. Then you can move on to the next thing.
This is just a summary, so I encourage you to check out the full article. Your teams will thank you, and so will your bottom line. For now, remember this: