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September 10, 2019
7 Ways to Create a Culture of Team Building
When you think of company culture, what comes to mind? Water cooler conversations? Office celebrations? Michael Scott’s Dundie awards…? Whatever it may be, corporate culture is at the heart of how a company’s staff and management interact and deal with one another, clients, and various business transactions. And it is a huge factor in employee happiness and turnover. In fact, a recent study revealed that 56 percent of millennial respondents would quit their job if they didn’t like the atmosphere and culture in their office.
So how do companies improve their culture? They take a good look at their work environment, office attitude, and every aspect of their operations. This includes countless factors such as employee benefits, business hours, office layout, and—arguably the most important—team building. Team building, the sense that “we all sink or swim together,” is critical to keep employees connected and engaged.
But team building is more than trust falls and icebreaker games. Here are nine ways you can improve your corporate culture of team building.
- Define your company’s values and hire accordingly. If you’re keen on nurturing team building, then make it clear that it is at the heart of your business’s values. Define what these values are in terms of the behaviors you expect of members. In other words, if you want people to collaborate regularly, get management on board and hire applicants that excel at teamwork. A great product or service is critical, but what really supports the longevity of a company is the people behind it! Hence the importance of the hiring process. There are many different personality types that can thrive together, but one wrong hire can change an entire workforce dynamic. So if your work environment is not conducive to team building, it’s time to reevaluate your hiring process and what you value most in an employee. You may even consider sending out pre-employment personality tests to find the right fit for your office.
- Offer skill training. Working in teams takes certain skills. I’m sure everyone has a class project horror story from their school days where one person ended up doing the brunt of the work, or no one took the lead and there was little to no communication or organization. Sound familiar? Listening, empathy, communication and collaboration are critical skills. It’s important to hire with these skills in mind, but fear not, these are also trainable skills. Offer annual or biannual training for every employee—new and old. Otherwise it’s easy to become complacent and lackluster. People should leave a company a better version of themselves than when they started. To achieve this, encourage total transparency, empower employees to speak up, and offer global learning programs, book clubs, and munch-and-learn sessions to ensure the constant development of individuals and teams.
- Recognize and reward employees and teams. Who doesn’t want to be recognized for a job well done? Whether privately or publicly, everyone wants to be appreciated and validated for their hard work. Rewards and recognition should support the behavior you expect from people. Reward people with promotions and incentives (and have a clear promotion and succession path in place) when they continually grow and succeed, but also reward teams as a whole. If one person is rewarded for the success of an entire team, there is no incentive to help each other. It sets up a competitive culture rather than a team building culture. It’s also important to recognize and reward individuals and teams publicly. Understand the importance of public recognition, whether it’s a quick shout out during an all-hands meeting, or during a presentation at a large annual retreat. Celebrating wins can buoy up an individual or an entire team.
- Structure, organize, and provide tools. Collaboration is more than just calling a meeting and discussing new and current projects and objectives. It’s creating a structure and habit of constant interaction and growth, and building a system of accountability and trust. Companies can’t expect one team building activity or a weekly email to unify teams. Plan regular activities for individuals and teams to bond so it makes it easier for them to connect in the workplace. Then provide tools that foster easy collaboration such as chat applications like Slack and video conferencing platforms like join.me. And encourage the use of these often. Especially with so many teams today dispersed around the globe, these tools make it quick and easy to bond and interact with those inside and outside an organization.
- Set team objectives. Set team objectives rather than individual objectives, and measure employees by their contribution to their team and the business as a whole. Setting team objectives encourages continued communication and problem-solving, and results in a more agile, responsive, and effective workplace. Encourage teams to include non-work related objectives in their to-do lists as well. Get to know individuals on your teams and discuss some fun activities they would enjoy doing. Do they enjoy playing foosball or ping pong? Planning an activity that everyone enjoys (or is open to) can help teams get to know each other, deepen relationships, and give employees a way to blow off steam together. These can be quarterly or even weekly objectives.
- Show appreciation through involvement. Prove your commitment to your culture by involving and empowering people. Quit micromanaging and show teams and team leads that you trust their opinions and expertise by allowing them to make decisions that matter and impact the company. This will not only help individuals become more passionate about their role, but encourage loyalty and generate excitement about the future of the company.
- Create cross-functional teams. Creating a great culture starts at the top and works its way down through every department and team. Creating cross-functional teams can improve your culture of team building by unifying the whole company and allowing individuals to see the part they—and their team—play in the bigger picture. Many companies have seen great success from assigning all employees and new hires to random, cross-functional teams that offer easy opportunities for everyone at the company to get to know each other, regardless of what position they may hold or division they may work in.
In short, there’s no question that a great culture is key to gaining and maintaining great employees, and great employees—working together—are key to building a great company.
Align these seven strategies to deliver a corporate culture of team building within your network, and remember to build a culture that encourages and inspires employees to collaborate and reach outside their comfort zone.
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