5 essentials to build a team culture


Posted by Carolyn Taylor - 29 June, 2010

5 essentials to build a team culture
I could really not let this whole month go by without a reference to the World Cup.

 My sister-in-law tells me that what you need as a woman in business is to develop two very good sentences on every sporting topic. To introduce this blog I offer you mine on soccer.

As I watch different teams play, and read the commentaries in the newspapers which I get delivered each day to my Kindle, I remember the impact on performance that the culture of a team can have. France and Germany come to mind, for those of you watching the soccer. A lot of my attention is taken with working on the culture of larger organisations, but of course a team leader can create their own unique culture within their team. The team sits within the environment of a wider culture, and today the English newspapers have moved on to writing about the different cultures in the national football federations of England, and of Germany, who beat them soundly. They don't use the word culture, but those readers familiar with the framework for building culture covered in my book will be able to spot the references to behaviours, symbols and systems. But, with the right leadership, individual teams can operate above and beyond the culture within which they sit.

So back to teams. What are the five essentials to build the culture you want in your team?

  1. Set standards together and agree to be held to them. Standards need to be objective and observable. They can relate to behaviour and to actions. 'No interruptions' is a standard. So is 'Start and end all meetings on time'. 'Be supportive to each other' is not.
  2. Point out examples when the standards are exceeded, and call it when they are breached. If people are not good at doing this, offer training. This is a learnable skill.
  3. Line up the agendas of your meetings with the purpose of the team, which is the value the team adds as a team, over and above the value they add as individuals. If the primary purpose of the team is to share best practice, don't spend most of the time reviewing last month's performance results.
  4. Select, promote and restructure team members with the team in mind. The culture of the team matters if it is delivering a value in excess of that which the individuals could add if you managed them one on one. A new team member whose behaviour is out of line with the developing team culture can diminish the performance of the overall team.
  5. Clear the air. Schedule time to resolve differences or unspoken resentments. Get help from outside the team if you need it. Internal Organisational Development people or external facilitators. This has symbolic as well as immediate impact. It shows that you value relationships as much as task.

If I had a third intelligent sentence to say on soccer, I would end this blog with a comment about the standards that I think England should have adopted. But I will have to leave that to you to work out.


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Topics: Leadership team, Carolyn Taylor, Team culture, One-Team

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