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Team Culture: Identifiers, Benefits, and How to Build One that Works

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What is team culture?The benefits of a strong team cultureHow to build a good team cultureActivities for promoting a strong company culture

Guide Overview

An introduction to team culture

In each workplace, the culture of its team of workers has major impacts on its environment, operations, and ambiance. As a potential employee, learning about the key identifiers of a good team culture can help you find one during your job search. Alternatively, discovering how to build a healthy culture within your organization can help you gain a competitive edge if you're an employer. To discover the characteristics of this critically important organizational component and a process for developing it, keep reading.

What is team culture?

The team culture of an organization is a combination of values, beliefs, and behavioral norms that workers share and the behaviors that these factors cause. Similar to the culture of a society, the culture of a team is supported by the people who are in it. As a company’s culture manifests in how its leaders and followers behave when representing the company, interacting with each other, handling conflicts, performing job duties, and obeying company rules, it’s a critically important organizational component. This construct is also called company culture and workplace culture. A good team culture has several identifiers, such as:

  • It includes great leaders. In a company, the leaders influence the culture more than followers. Consequently, you’re likely to find several effective supervisors and managers in a company with a healthy culture. These leaders fuel the company’s success with their behavior.
  • It develops a great place to work. Culture has a big influence on the work environment, which consists of the different occupational conditions in which an employee performs job duties. A good team culture involves a majority of workers upholding values and behavioral norms that support others, treating others with respect, and helping the organization achieve its business goals. This creates a satisfying place to work.
  • It produces more engaged workers. Employee engagement, which is a state of commitment to the workplace that can develop in workers, has been found to improve productivity. As a strong team culture is essential for engagement to develop, a high level of engagement is a key characteristic of strong cultures.
  • It reduces turnover. Increased turnover results in employers spending more on recruitment and training. Additionally, this can reduce the motivation of team members, for it reduces their opportunities to build professional contacts. As a good team culture improves employee engagement, it triggers reductions in turnover.
  • It reduces interpersonal conflicts. A good team culture promotes cohesiveness among workers, so it’s likely to reduce conflicts within the workforce. Typically, a quality culture has safeguards in place, such as an effective communication process, to deal with employee conflicts.

Learn more: The Effect of Culture in Communication

The benefits of a strong team culture

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, a strong team culture can offer you several benefits, including:

  • You enjoy your work. A strong team culture is supportive, respectful, and goal orientated. These factors contribute to developing a great place to work.
  • You benefit from a strong infrastructure. A successful organizational infrastructure consists of the things that drive performance. A good team culture is a key component that is likely to improve customer service, worker performance review process, employee promotions, conflict resolution, and employee benefits.
  • You become more engaged A firm with a strong workplace culture is likely to engage its workers and develop loyalty. Consequently, your engagement will lead to improvements in your well-being and performance over time.
  • You’re less impacted by interpersonal conflicts. Conflicts between employees do not deter you, for your team culture has processes in place for handling disagreements between workers.
  • Your contributions are valued. In an efficient culture, it’s easy for workers to claim credit for their contributions to organizational success since an efficient culture includes communication and management processes that enable rewarding the achievements of employees.
  • It helps your career. Invariably, a good team culture inspires better leadership, improvements in employee engagement, increases in performance, and reductions in turnover. As a worker, you can enjoy more job security, better benefits, and more opportunities for career advancement.
  • It attracts the best talent. As an employer, investing in building a strong culture enables you to create a great workplace that attracts talented job seekers who can support and improve the company.

Learn more: A Guide for Cultural Differences in Communication

How to build a good team culture

Building a good team culture can give you many advantages. To do so, use the following steps:

1. Review your team culture

Begin by understanding the existing culture. Using the following checklist of questions to assess it:

  • What are the corporate values?
  • What are the corporate values reflected in worker behavior?
  • What are the values reflected in managerial behaviors?
  • What is the level of employee awareness of corporate values?
  • What are the values shared by a majority of employees?
  • What are the shared beliefs among employees in relation to supportiveness?
  • What are the shared beliefs among workers in relation to respecting each other?
  • What are the shared beliefs in relation to achieving business goals?
  • What are the behavioral norms for interacting with stakeholders such as colleagues, managers, subordinates, and customers?
  • What are the managerial activities that communicate, maintain, or improve team culture?
  • What are worker-specific cultural differences that conflict with the team culture?
  • What are the cultural differences between workers?
  • What are the operational processes that support healthy staff behaviors?
  • What are the managerial activities that negatively influence staff behaviors?
  • What are the company policies and protocols that guide staff behavior?

2. Review the team cultures of industry leaders

Research the team cultures of high-performance companies in your industry sector. Focus on the following areas:

  • Corporate values in relation to vision, mission, and core processes.
  • Worker behaviors.
  • Behaviors that reflect corporate values.
  • Brand image.
  • Activities for building team culture.
  • Employee engagement activities.
  • Client reviews on customer service.
  • Employee reviews on management.

3. Identify areas for improvement in your team culture

Compare your team culture with that of the industry leaders you’ve researched. Identify areas for improvement, such as:

  • Corporate values.
  • Worker values.
  • Worker beliefs.
  • Behavioral norms.
  • Leadership activities.

4. Develop strategies for improving your team culture

Create strategies to address each team culture issue you identified in the previous step. Use the following tips:

  • Make changes in the physical work environment that contribute to a healthy culture.
  • Develop symbols, rituals, and stories that support a good culture.
  • Address flawed collective behaviors.
  • Communicate symbols, rituals, and stories that support a good team culture to the workforce.
  • Identify cultural differences between employees that you cannot change.

5. Implement team culture-building strategies via company leaders

To successfully build team culture, you need the support of key influencers in your organization. For example, popular workers, supervisors, and managers must accept the culture you’re trying to build. Then, they must help you establish it through their behavior. Use the following tips to achieve this:

  1. Communicate the vision of the targeted team culture to company leaders.
  2. Convey strategies for establishing cultural improvements to key influencers.
  3. Use workshops, inspirational speeches, or other incentives to inspire leaders to become ambassadors for cultural change.
  4. Implement strategies to change the team culture via leaders.
  5. Solidify changes to the team culture with employee incentives, such as perks.

Learn more: Benefits and Examples of Teamwork in the Workplace

Activities for promoting a strong company culture

If you’re an employer or senior manager, there are several activities you can use to promote a strong team culture in your organization, such as:

Use stakeholder feedback

Request the feedback of employees, clients, and other external stakeholders regarding staff values, beliefs, and norms of behavior. Use their input to determine differences between your vision for the team culture and its reality. Then, use findings to realign the cultural factors in your organization that differ from the target culture.

Direct the culture of the management

The culture of the company leaders is likely to have a bigger influence on team culture than any other factor. In a good team culture, the senior managers are its main advocates. Use the following tips to direct managerial culture:

  • Assess the culture of company leaders by reviewing their actions, leadership styles, and opinions.
  • Identify negative attitudes and motivations that deter the growth of a good culture.
  • Monitor managerial activities.
  • Identify those that undermine the culture.
  • Make any necessary recruitment or training changes needed to bring management activities in line with your target culture.

Reward workers who reflect the team culture

To promote a strong team culture, it’s important to show your employees that you value their contributions to it. Use the following tips to do so:

  • Identify workers who reflect the target team culture with their values, beliefs, and behavioral norms.
  • Recognize them through commendations, promotions, salary increments, or perks.
  • Let the rest of the workforce know why the selected employees are being recognized.

Hire people who suit the team culture

As team culture is essentially composed of specific features of people and their behaviors, it’s important to hire employees who can support your team culture instead of sabotage it. Work with an HR expert, like a recruiter, to develop a list of ideal worker characteristics that reflect the team culture of your organization. Use this list during the recruitment process. Formulate hiring activities that can help you to identify candidates who are likely to fit in. For example, you can refer to this list when developing behavioral interview questions.

Now, you have learned several identifiers of a good team culture, steps for building a strong culture, and activities for promoting it. During the job search, leverage this information to identify and pursue companies with healthy cultures. Alternatively, use the techniques you have learned to transform the culture in your current workplace and attract the best talent in your industry.

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