As a CEO of a small company, a list of seemingly countless priorities and needs can demand your attention. Sometimes, items like “team culture” that seem a bit more nebulous fall by the wayside when more urgent and quantifiable problems in the realms of marketing, sales, operations, legal, recruitment, and more arise. It’s easy to give these areas more attention when they seem pressing and when the consequences of ignoring them seem more extreme.
However, investing time and energy into your team culture can actually be the lynchpin that determines whether your company ultimately finds success or dissolves and loses momentum. Team culture can ultimately make or break your organization. It’s imperative to prioritize investing in solid organizational culture. Here are a few main elements of team culture that can help focus your efforts.
Team Culture: Spend, Don’t Speak
Establishing a strong team culture in your organization requires deciding what is important to your organization. This is not done through mantras you put on a poster in the break room or in a “Company Values” onboarding handout. Team culture is built through the actions, values, behaviors, and rhythms you institute and perpetuate within your organization.
The way you prioritize your finite resources – time, funds, and energy – and how you encourage or require your workforce to spend theirs will create a culture, whether or not you’ve intentionally designed it. Therefore, it’s important to determine the values you want to include in your culture to make sure they are prioritized.
A few areas in particular have been proven to act as some of the most effective contributing elements to creating positive team culture.
Build a Culture of Development and Investment
Countless studies and surveys have indicated that employees value when their employers invest in their personal and professional development. When team members feel like they have opportunities for growth and advancement available to them, they are more likely to stay longer, feel better about their work, and contribute more to the company over the span of their employment.
Thus, providing opportunities to develop and grow personally and professionally for your workforce can be a hugely beneficial step for both you and your employees. Making sure your team has access to development opportunities can be relatively simple. Building 2-3 paid workdays every year into your employees’ annual rhythms for attending trainings or development courses can be a relatively low-cost intervention that significantly contributes to overall team culture and performance.
Similarly, polling your team to find out what kinds of training events or clinics they might find valuable and then hosting an expert in that field to put on a one-day workshop at your workplace can create similar results.
There are many strategies available to you for incorporating intentional growth and development opportunities into your team’s work experience. These can be tailored to your business and team’s needs and interests. However that type of program might look, your intentionality in providing opportunities for development communicates your willingness to invest in your team.
Build a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion
Another aspect of team culture is informed by the way your organization approaches inclusion and diversity. An abundance of statistics and studies show that teams and employees are increasingly adamant about working in organizations that take proactive approaches to inclusion and diversity. When certain groups, identities, or demographics are either prioritized or excluded, the organization misses out on some of the very tangible and significant benefits of encouraging diversity amongst its workforce.
Creating practices and policies specifically to encourage diverse recruitment and make your workplace one where a wide variety of individuals can be safe and thrive in their work benefits your entire organization. This atmosphere helps not only future hires, but your current staff feel more at home bringing all their strengths to the table. It encourages diversity of thought, heightens innovation, and develops higher levels of understanding and empathy amongst your team members.
Build a Culture of Strong Communication
Creating and maintaining positive team culture requires a few fundamental elements. One of the most important of these is strong communication. As a CEO, leader, founder, or managing partner, it’s imperative that you not only continue to develop your communication skills but encourage your managers, employees, and team to do the same.
There are a few different areas in which communication enhancement can be particularly beneficial to strengthening your positive team culture. These include skillfully giving feedback, admitting when you are wrong or don’t know, motivating teammates or colleagues in ways that are meaningful to them, and facilitating effective meetings and discussions. The more these skills are modeled, championed, taught, and encouraged, the more communication will become an effective component of your organization’s team culture.
The areas above can provide a starting point for incorporating simple initiatives into your organization or business to develop its positive culture. Investing your time, energy, and money into developing a positive team culture can provide huge ROI over time for your business as well as lay the groundwork necessary for weathering difficult times, preserving your organization’s ethos during growth or turnover, and more.