Team Culture Is Catching—Is It the Kind You Want?

by Gregg Gregory
Date Published May 10, 2018 - Last Updated December 13, 2018

The honeymoon was over.

Josh was finishing his eighth week in a brand-new job as a tech support analyst, and his boss, Patty, noticed that the enthusiasm and can-do attitude he had brought with him as a new hire were waning. More and more, Josh was doing only what was required to meet his job requirements, participating less in team meetings, and volunteering much less to help other team members.

Patty tried to engage him in casual conversation in the break room, asking neutral questions like, “How is everything going?” or “How do you like the company so far?” Josh’s answers were polite and equally neutral: “Everything’s going fine,” and “I really like it here.” She wasn’t able to get a read on what was going on with him and why his energy and attitude had changed so quickly.

Josh was also confused and disappointed. He came into the job enthusiastic and ready to make a difference. What Patty didn’t know was how he really felt: that every time he tried to help one of his team members, he felt he was stonewalled by them.

The first time it happened was just a few weeks after he started. The company’s wireless interface to its printers went down just as the marketing and sales teams had a proposal due. While this part of the network wasn’t Josh’s area of expertise, he wanted to help any way possible to get the printers back onto the network. Karyn, who was in charge of this area, wanted no help, no suggestions, no assistance. She struggled with the issue on her own, fuming audibly in her cubicle as sales team members repeatedly called or emailed, asking for updates.

When Josh asked another teammate why Karyn insisted on tackling the problem by herself, the teammate shrugged and said, “That’s just how she is.”

Josh found out quickly enough that all of the other members of his service desk team tended to work in silos. Within a few weeks he had adopted the same pattern and mentality of working for himself only, rather than as part of a team.

All of the other members of his service desk team tended to work in silos.
Tweet: All of the other members of his service desk team tended to work in silos. @TeamsRock @ThinkHDI #team #leadership #TeamDevelopment

Josh had discovered and caught the “company culture”—one that Patty may not have been aware existed. He was disillusioned with the company and, though Patty didn’t know it, he was sprucing up his resume and planning to hunt for a job somewhere else.

Every company has a culture. The question is, is your company’s culture worth catching?

A great company culture can become a unique selling point for your entire organization. Think of the major companies that are prominently advertising the work culture behind their doors: Google, Southwest Airlines, Marriott Hotels, and In-N-Out Burger. They all have a dynamic, winning culture, and while such a culture often starts at the very top of the company, it’s possible to build a winning culture within a team as well.

Here are five ways to refocus a team and build a dynamic, positive culture that others in the company will want to emulate:

1. Schedule Regular Huddles

These are different from regular team meetings: instead of longer weekly meetings to review a service desk team’s progress, the huddle is a quick get-together lasting no longer than 15 minutes. It’s most often held at the beginning of the day. Team members quickly discuss anything that has transpired in the past 24 hours that might affect their work.

  • Stick to a specific format: Everyone stands throughout the huddle, which emphasizes its quick, informal approach.
  • Talk only about the team’s work, its assignments, goals, progress, and issues relating to those topics. Don’t gossip or engage in conversations other than those that will help the team resolve issues and achieve assigned objectives.
  • Not everything will get resolved in a team huddle, and that’s okay. The team huddle is a great way to identify potentially bigger or more complicated challenges that can be noted and placed on the agenda of a more formal weekly or monthly meeting.

2. Find a Team’s Niche

Every team has a unique proposition, one that goes beyond its main goals. Maybe the team members enjoy putting together specialized team or company-wide outings. If they don’t already do something unique from other teams, brainstorm with them. For example, they could put together a theme event for the department.

3. Have a Teambuilding Activity Once a Month

Create games or activities that inspire team members to work toward a goal or compete with each other for a prize. That prize doesn’t have to be big or expensive. It can be as simple as a goofy-looking trophy that the winner(s) get to display for a month.

4. Create a Team Social Media Approach

Get the word out around the organization about your team’s various activities, accomplishments, and more. For example, put together a team photo album with pictures and comments about what was accomplished and what the team members enjoyed about the events. If your organization has an online or intranet page that communicates information and news to the entire company, talk to the department in charge of updating that page about adding a team accomplishments/activities section where teams can trumpet their success to the rest of the organization.

5. Encourage the Team to Share Their Successes

When the team is enthusiastic about a successful project or event, encourage them to share it with other teams and throughout the organization—whether chatting in the break room, at larger company events, or even in meetings when appropriate. Their endorsement and enthusiasm for these activities will catch on across the company and can inspire other teams, improving performance across the organization.

Rekindling a team’s enthusiasm can be as simple as being more aware of day-to-day challenges and encouraging them to work together toward a simple goal. Letting them advocate that team-based success to the rest of the organization will have positive results and can ultimately turn the company into a sought-after place to work.

A final note: Patty decided to hold a quick huddle each morning before the service desk calls picked up and things became too busy for her team. By reviewing the team’s assigned objectives and goals and asking what else the team could do to achieve them, she began to gradually get feedback from most members of the team. Josh was one of the first to begin talking about some of the challenges he faced in meeting certain objectives, and for the first time Patty gained insight into why he had backed off his initial enthusiasm. She could finally see what needed to be done to bring the team together and change the culture of “everyone for themselves” that had crept in. The team began to reform into a closely-knit unit, with every member showing more enthusiasm for the job than they had in months.

Gregg Gregory is America's teambuilding mastermind, specializing in building winning cultures at every organizational level. A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) with more than 35 years working at all levels within in corporate America, Gregg has delivered more than 2,000 keynotes and teambuilding trainings to more than 500 companies in the past 20 years. Named an HDI Top 25 Thought Leader in 2017, his expertise and articles have appeared in hundreds of business and trade publications, including, Boardroom Magazine, and Drake Business Review. Follow Gregg and Teams Rock on Twitter @TeamsRock, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Tag(s): supportworld, workforce enablement, workforce enablement, team building, teamwork, leadership


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