How is your work team culture? If it’s time to evaluate this important part of the business, then it’s ideal to keep these tips in mind. Read more below.
Team culture is more than a buzzword – it affects your ability to retain talent, the cohesion and productivity of your workers, the quality of your output, and your reputation both within the industry and on the job market.
Your team and company culture are representative of the kind of leadership you endorse and promote, and the kind of behavior you seek out and reward. And when leveraged in the right way, your team culture can be an incredibly powerful tool for attracting talent and outlasting the competition – even while fully remote.
Why Team Culture Matters – Especially When Remote
Team culture is a selection of things but might best be summed up by the cross-section between what you want your company to be, and what your company really is.
We all have our own missions and visions, our own aspirations and dreams – and while we may not completely live up to them, striving to come as close as possible is an ideal in and of itself. In doing so, we promote and encourage specific behaviors and actions, and hire specific people. That’s what determines a team’s culture.
Good work team culture can lead to:
- Better talent retention.
- Improved reputation.
- Greater productivity.
But what does it take to develop a good team culture, even while remote? We’re going to go over 8 simple ways you can ensure that your team remains in high spirits, even when far apart.
1. Engage the Team
Engage the team often, even if only remotely. Leverage coworking spaces and events as means to meet in person, make sure individual team members understand that they are part of something larger.
Coworking spaces are also an excellent way to onboard new hires during the pandemic, before transitioning them into remote work (or letting them continue in a coworking space while the main office remains at capacity).
Encouraging employees to work together as often as possible, so long as it is safe as per locally mandated social distancing rules, can help reduce the impact of remote work on team cohesion and camaraderie, as well as limit the effects of isolation caused by the pandemic.
2. Encourage Feedback Often
Frequent feedback and communication are the backbones of any successful team – and that goes for the team’s culture, as well. If you want to get a better understanding of where you might be lacking in the management department, just ask the people being managed.
3. Provide Time and Opportunity to Develop Relationships
You can’t expect much of a culture to develop when your team members barely have time to introduce themselves to one another, much less get to know each other outside of a purely professional context.
Even remotely, you can facilitate and allow for greater relationships within the team through off-topic chat groups, weekly or monthly remote events (from puzzle night to party video games), mutual lunches and breaks (getting together on-call to snack or take a walk outside), and more. Coworking spaces are also an excellent opportunity for teams in a single city or region to get together occasionally and work on projects in closer (and safe) proximity.
4. Focus on Refinement and Learning
Another way to promote a healthier work culture is to ensure that team members understand the importance of advancement – particularly self-advancement.
Encourage and provide opportunities for learning new skills, taking on coursework alongside work, developing in new ways for the good of the company (and one’s career), and making sure that each team member feels continuously challenged to learn new things and grow as a professional.
5. Managers and Leaders Should Embody the Company
In other words, lead by example – and adhere to core values. A CEO that demands that the team crunches on a certain project but doesn’t bring the same work ethic to the office when things are in a tight spot won’t get the respect they need to build a strong team.
If your vision is to be an innovator in your space, you need to be open to new ideas and encourage outside-the-box thinking at work, rather than shooting down new hires when they bring something else to the table.
6. Celebrate and Laud Accomplishments
Did you guys just land a huge new client? Finish off a grueling project? Why not treat the team to a little celebratory get-together? Regardless of whether it’s a virtual event or something in-person, a little company-sponsored treat can go a long way to helping team members feel appreciated.
7. Give Team Members the Chance to Prove Themselves
Some people don’t have what it takes to lead a team. But any competent team member should have what it takes to be responsible for their own time and resources – and deliver on projects with the freedom to spend their time as they please.
Instead of micromanaging each aspect of the team’s work and burdening your team with spyware to try and log their hours as accurately as possible, give them increased responsibilities and the trust they deserve to manage their workload as best suits them, take breaks when they see fit, and provide for their own productivity and creativity.
In the same vein, however, good managers and leaders need to keep in mind that many team members will crunch themselves into burnout to try and keep up with a company’s rate of production. If you feel that a team member is starting to unravel or is potentially taking on much more than they should, feel free to check in on them regularly and give them the option of moving projects around, or giving the signal that they might not be able to handle their workload alone.
It’s good for the bottom line when a single employee manages to do the work of two people – but in the long-term, management like that will cause workers to burn themselves out on 16-20-hour shifts, leading to more mistakes, more hours spent fixing problems that could have been avoided entirely, a toxic workplace culture, and a poor reputation on the job market and elsewhere.
8. Review Your Own Team Culture
No improvement is complete without reflection – and there will come the time when you must consider how the changes you’ve implemented affect your working culture, and the environment you’re fostering for both existing team members and new talent.
Every year or so, consider doing a work culture audit to get a sense of how the rest of your team feels about your approach to fostering a healthy and productive work culture, whether any specific changes over the past year were especially well-received or poorly received, whether any that were poorly received were eventually accepted or even liked (and vice versa), and what each team member feels the general direction of the company should be.
Get an idea of how your company seems to reflect on those who work in it – and what decisions they would make in your shoes to improve it.
Ultimately, it’s entirely up to you to act on whatever information an audit like that would bring you – but its biggest benefit is the increased insight it gives you into each team member’s thoughts on the company, as well as the team’s attitude as a whole.
It takes time to alter and improve a company’s team culture. Never forget that the people you are working with are more than just a dispensable resource – they’re individuals with vastly different perspectives and experiences, each of which brings a unique value to the table.