remote work team culture

How to Build a Strong Team Culture: A Guide for Leaders

A strong team culture helps you attract and retain the best talent to support your business needs and add value to your company.

Stefana Zaric
Written by Stefana Zaric
December 13, 2021
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According to a FlexJobs study, toxic workplace culture has been the leading cause of employees quitting their jobs, especially during the Great Resignation. At the same time, companies that nurture a culture of learning and improvement have been able to retain employees for almost twice as long as the average retention span of 2.9 years.

Improved retention rates are just one of the positive outcomes your business may experience if you make a conscious effort to nurture positivity, teamwork, and appreciation. This article is a guide to building a strong team culture in your company.

What is a team culture?

Team culture is the set of company values, beliefs, work practices, and behaviors shared and respected among your entire team. Team culture allows you to express your business goals through core values and beliefs while creating an atmosphere in which your employees feel empowered to work toward those goals.

Team culture is most successful with a high level of empathy and collaboration among team members. That’s why some organizations may define team culture as an overall spirit of honest support and cooperation to achieve both common and individual goals as efficiently as possible.

What makes a great team culture?

In a great team culture, employees are encouraged to bring their full selves to work every day and feel supported to provide their full performance. A great team culture often involves team values such as:

  • Transparency
  • Open-mindedness
  • Collaboration
  • Ownership
  • Empathy
  • Work-life balance

Great leaders who want to build a successful team need to offer ways to empower and motivate  employees by establishing a healthy team culture.

A healthy team culture means leaders and managers praise effort and achievements and provide support, help, and mentorship when needed.Great leaders foster a psychologically safe environment, educate team members on what this means, and encourage open dialogue and feedback. It also means issues are addressed in order to be fixed and prevented in the future, not to find someone to blame and potentially punish.

Finally, a healthy team culture is the one where leaders want their employees to have a positive employee experience.

Employees need to live a balanced life to avoid burnout and be able to put in their maximum effort to achieve the desired results for the company. For a team culture to be healthy and empowering, employees should also be able to bring their full and true selves to work every day, knowing there won’t be a bias regarding their performance and progress.

Why is a positive team culture important? 6 benefits for your company

Leadership and team members need to make a daily effort to engage in the company culture in an organic way. There are several benefits to nurturing a positive team culture.

How to build a strong team culture in your company in 7 steps

It can be challenging to build a strong team culture, but it’s pivotal to start by creating a strong foundation. Every team is different, and there isn’t a strategy that works for every organization in the world, so it’s necessary to experiment and test different ideas until you identify the right tactics for your business and team.

1. Remove the stigma around hierarchy to encourage sharing new ideas

Removing stigma around hierarchy and encouraging open communication across all levels of tenure will empower team members to offer feedback and new ideas, while driving a psychologically safe environment.

Every team member should feel like a perfect addition to the team and know they’re bringing something unique to the table. The working environment that welcomes new team members should make it clear that new ideas are welcome no matter how long you’ve been with the company.

Eliminate the stigma around the term "hierarchy." As we all know, teams comprise leaders and team members. Although there are different positions and levels of tenure within the business, it’s important to encourage open dialogue regardless of level to reduce the sense of hierarchy. Make feedback a two-way street and let everyone know that their opinions matter—employees should feel free to share them with other coworkers regardless of their position in the organization.

2. Show your employees you value them to increase their motivation

Employees who feel valued claim they’re not planning to look for a new job in the current year, which will positively impact their organization’s employee retention rates. Workers care about how they are contributing to the overall company mission and how their role makes an impact, and want to know that their work is valued, so make sure your team members know how much their work is valuable.

Get creative with team-based recognition or rewards. Recognition can include financial rewards, benefits, perks, events, learning opportunities, including team members in decision-making processes, growth and more. For example, you can organize “team spotlights'' for employees to share why they are successful and give tips, or give awards at team meetings.

Don’t hesitate to congratulate your employees on their accomplishments. Ask your team members how they like to be recognized—in a public forum, privately during a one-on-one meeting, or during the team meeting and respect their wishes.

Top tip: In your communication tool, create a special channel for kudos and celebrations—give employees an opportunity to praise each other, too! Create clear guidelines to ensure this is consistent across the company and most successful for your team members.

3. Have a shared goal to boost collaboration

Shared visions and common goals develop a bond between your employees, allowing them to enjoy success and face failure as a team.

Although we are unique individuals with more or less different aspirations, once we join a team within a particular organization, it is not all about our professional growth; it is also about the company's growth.

That's the reason you, as a manager, should focus on creating a shared goal and encouraging your employees to work together to achieve it. This is where sharing the results also makes an impact—when your team knows about the difference they’re making, they’ll feel motivated to do even more.

4. Rely on technology to build team culture

Leverage software to organize communication, projects, team building and other activities that strengthen a company culture.

Technology has been a faithful ally for years now, especially during the pandemic. For example, Slack has helped co-workers organize their workflow and enable flawless async communication, Zoom enabled online conferences and meetings, Notion and similar tools enabled easy project management, etc.

5. Practice building trust

Building trust within a team includes not only knowing that someone will consistently deliver what you expect from them. It also means the liberty for someone to say, 'I'm not sure how to do so-and-so, 'I need help', 'I messed up, can you help me fix it?'

Trust increases when team leaders are able to help their team members find the most efficient ways to do their work and overcome potential challenges. Make sure talks about these strategies are on your 1:1 agenda.

Being in a cohesive team means all team members commit to a shared vision and go towards it, while no one is afraid to take responsibility for their actions and own up to their mistakes.

6. Don't avoid conflict altogether

Another significant step for building a cohesive team is mastering the skill of dealing with conflict. Every team comprises distinct personalities, so disagreements are inevitable.

Neglecting the problem can put your whole team and company at risk, and no one wants that. As a manager, your job is to encourage open communication and problem-solving instead of sweeping issues under the carpet to make things appear smooth. In the long run, it’s much more efficient to find the right way to solve conflict between your team members.

Solving healthy conflicts can help your employees take more initiative and advocate for what they believe in, while maintaining a normal conversation tone. Co-workers will also learn how to express their thoughts and arguments clearly, and show compassion to keep a healthy exchange of opinions.

7. Advocate for psychological safety in your organization

Building a culture in which people can express their doubts and share when they need help or they made a mistake leads to fewer mistakes in the future.

Employees are less likely to feel happy and accomplished in an environment that punishes mistakes. Of course, that doesn't mean employees can be irresponsible and not think about consequences. No one likes to show their vulnerable side or admit they’ve made a mistake, but it is an inevitable part of life, and instead of hiding it, we should share it. That's what great team culture is all about.

That’s why constant and constructive feedback is crucial for employees to thrive. Once you establish a team member is doing something wrong, talk to them, ask if they need assistance, point out what parts of their performance need improvement and show them how to do that. Remember, fear paralyzes while support encourages employees to grow, be part of your team and contribute to it.

Build a successful team culture with Deel

Simply put, a successful culture is the one you’re proud of. When your employees feel like they’re heard and valued in their team and within the organization, that’s pretty much a confirmation that you’ve done an excellent job.

Whether your employees work from the office or opt for remote work, you need to establish a team culture to keep everything (and everyone) together. Hiring a top-notch workforce depends on the values your company promotes, not only on a competitive salary and a gym membership.

Deel can help you take your global employee experience to a new level. If you’re looking for talented workforce around the globe, let's make the hiring process as straightforward as possible. Leave tasks like running payroll to us so you can focus on more strategic tasks and grow your business.

Reach out today to book a demo and learn more.

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