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Topic: Culture

4 Ways to Build a Thriving Team Culture

Group of 6 employees brainstorming together at work.
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According to the latest 2020 global research, an employee’s team is fundamental to their wellbeing, engagement, and overall experience. However, team dynamics often fall to the bottom of the list of initiatives companies take to improving their workplace culture. In fact, only 26% of employees feel their team works seamlessly together. Apply these 4 takeaways to start building a thriving team culture and ensure your people feel safe, empowered, connected, and valued.

1. Create a sense of autonomy

It’s true, having trust in your team is fundamental to building a sense of autonomy, but leaders can take more proactive steps to help employees feel connected to their teams and other leaders in the organization. As a leader, helping cultivate strong relationships with and between team members is a great way to build a thriving team culture. When teams have strong bonds with one another and their leader, there is 42% greater odds team members will feel they have high autonomy.

Another way to develop a sense of autonomy is by setting employees up with opportunities to grow, develop, and work on special projects. As they create and work on things outside of their immediate job role, their sense of autonomy increases. The 2020 Global Culture Report shows that when employees feel they can take advantage of these unique opportunities, there is a 33% greater sense of high autonomy.

“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi

2. Foster transparency, openness, and team identity

Autonomy and psychological safety go hand-in-hand and are important characteristics of thriving teams. When teams are given more freedom and flexibility to be creative and innovate, they feel safer to take risks and speak up in their team. Leaders should actively work to ensure all members feel a strong sense of team identity.

One way to accomplish this is by letting every team member know the roles of each individual on the team. How does everyone contribute? What does their workload look like? And then back this up by making sure everyone knows their job has meaning and that what they are doing is valuable. Doing so leads to a 93% increase in the odds of psychological safety.

When teams prioritize work and tackle projects together, they strengthen collaboration, purpose, and belonging. This contributes to an 88% increase in the odds of having a psychologically safe culture.

Finally, after every project, hold an honest review all together so that everyone can experience success and failure as a team, not individually, so everyone feels accountable and no one is singled out. They should be willing to give and receive honest, critical feedback to make the team stronger. When these things are done, there is a 55% and 91% increase in the odds of psychological safety, respectively.

“Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” Patrick Lencioni

3. Utilize peer-to-peer conversations

Everyone wants a sense of opportunity and development at work, but that is no longer just the leader’s responsibility. Building team culture requires peer-to-peer conversations with other team members to share feedback, support development, and grow together. Just like one-to-ones deepen connections between leaders and employees, peer-to-peers can strengthen connections with peers. These interactions between peers improves employee development and leads to great employee experience. It also increases trust and builds friendship among team members, ultimately creating a strong culture of support.

The key to a successful, and not overly critical, peer-to-peer conversation is that it happens in the moment and from a place of positive intent. They should not always be associated with failure and should be intentional and well thought-through. Peer-to-peers can be individual or with the whole team, and should focus on how the employee can develop, innovate, and grow.

Try out these topics during your next peer-to-peer:

o Introducing a peer to another colleague or someone within their network

o Learning a new skill

o Asking for or providing feedback

o Asking for help

o Brainstorming a new idea

o Inviting a peer to work on a special project

In a recent study on inclusion by Deloitte, they found that, “organizations need to get teams to capitalize on the various forms of knowledge their members bring.” The study suggests that great team culture occurs when there is cross-generational dialogue that fosters appreciation between senior employees and junior employees. By sharing knowledge and expertise, team members can help each other grow and thrive.

4. Share in the success

Finally, make others aware of employee accomplishments, for when you do, there are 45% greater odds the employee will have high autonomy. Successful teams will be seen as subject matter experts in their area and valued for skills and talents they can use in new ways. Be sure to recognize team members’ contributions in their team and with the wider organization. Share stories of success in company meetings, newsletters, emails, social platforms, and on public screens. Spread the word of employee accomplishments. The result? Employees will feel inspired to go out and do more great work.

Frank Tucker, Chief People Office at Taco Bell says that celebrating success tells your teams what your company really values in terms of success and here's what it looks like. “We're trying to show [all employees],” says Tucker, “when you're thinking about what the right thing to do in your store is, or what do we really want you to achieve, these people that we're taking and celebrating are achieving it with their teams and they're achieving it with their customers.” By connecting everyone to success, Taco Bell has built a culture of excellence across all their locations.

“When you’re thinking about [success]—these people we are celebrating are achieving this. They’re achieving it with their teams and with their customers.” Frank Tucker, CPO at Taco Bell

When others in the company see what successful teams not only accomplish, but are publicly recognized for, those teams become subject matter experts and begin to build a winning team culture. Share these stories of success in company meetings, newsletters, emails, social platforms, and on public screens. Employees will want to keep up the momentum.

Teams thrive when leaders ensure that their people feel safe, empowered, connected, and valued. Find more ways to build a thriving team culture by downloading the 2020 Global Culture Report.

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