Workplace culture is the shared attitude, assumptions and values of every individual that makes up an organisation. Organisations that foster a positive workplace culture reap the benefits of high employee morale, increased productivity, employee retention and improves teamwork and collaboration.
A strong, engaged team who are able to successfully collaborate and share their talents are the key to success, as they will consistently be looking for new ways to improve and innovate. Teams with high employee engagement rates are 21% more productive than those with low engagement. In fact, according to the Mckinsey Global Institute, in the organisation as a whole, productivity improves by 20-25% when employees feel connected.
So, how do you build a positive culture of collaboration within your team? How do you ensure they feel engaged and connected? Here are four places to start:
1. Encourage a team of life-long learners
Creating a culture of learning, where a team is willing or even better hungry to learn, will stop your team from becoming complacent or bored.
Learning can be formal. Encourage your team members to take advantage of online courses, work training programs, etc. Provide your team with support when they are taking on learning programs and acknowledge their efforts.
Learning can also be informal. Each day presents new learning opportunities, but these will easily be ignored by employees who are unengaged. Your team has the opportunity to learn from each other and share their skills. Encourage them to do this and show your appreciation when they have. Set up sessions where team members can share what they have learnt with the rest of the team.
2. Communication is key
Consistent, constructive communication will set your team up for success and yet this is the most difficult skill to master. This could be because we all have different styles of communication, or it could be because we get caught up with our own work and forget to talk to our team.
Encourage an open flow of communication between your team members. Encourage a culture where team members get up from their desks to go discuss updates with their colleagues. Of course, these discussions should be followed up with an email summary of the discussion and any decisions made. But, email should not be the main platform for communication. A lot can get lost over email and tone can be misinterpreted.
If your team is online, and the option of face-to-face communication is unavailable, good alternatives for connecting and communicating are Skype, Zoom and even a good old-fashioned phone call.
3. Provide Feedback
Feedback, feedback, feedback! Your team needs clear, constructive feedback so that they can move in the right direction. Feedback is a great opportunity for you to encourage and motivate your team. When a member consistently receives negative feedback, warranted or not, this could heavily demotivate them and slow down productivity. Try employing techniques like the sandwich method. The sandwich method consists of providing critical feedback sandwiched between two compliments. This is a very basic method and quite commonly known. It may not work for every team member, so test the feedback method and if it doesn’t work research and test new methods until you find the one that works best for your team.
4. Remind your team of the vision
We often get caught up in the day to day tasks of office life and lose sight of the bigger picture of what we are working towards. All the small tasks we complete during the day are in order to achieve one larger goal. Don’t let your team forget the larger goal or the bigger picture. When they lose sight of the bigger vision, the ultimate goal, they will begin working in isolation with their heads down.
The problem with this way of working is that it stops staff from reflecting and asking the high-level questions that will lead to innovation. Allocate time within your team for brainstorming sessions. This might sound simple, but scheduled thinking will help your team remember they are working towards a larger goal and not just crossing tasks off a to-do list.
These are merely starting points to think about. Use them to research new techniques and methods you can employ to better your teams’ culture. Then test these techniques and see which work best. Team culture and employee engagement are complex as their foundations are rooted in human emotion. Find what suits your team and lead by example. Be a life-long learner in pursuit of the best way to engage and take care of your team.
Looking to learn more about team building, try our short course Motivate and build a team.