Why team culture is the unsung hero of collaboration
Why do so many organizations and leaders put emphasis on team culture?
And what can a collaborative culture really do in terms of tangible outcomes like higher productivity, better quality, fewer bottlenecks, and happier team members?
Good team culture is essential to your workflow, which ultimately leads to a better work environment for everyone. And it's no secret that great workplace environments result in increased productivity and happier employees.
You’ve probably heard the term team culture thrown around before, but what does it really mean for you and your business? How do you actually do it and why is it so important for project collaboration?
Well, let's take a look at what even defines team culture in the first place.
What is team culture?
Team culture is a combination of values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that are shared by a group of people working to achieve a goal together – not individually.
This term is often presented in the workforce as free snacks, Friday happy hours, and team-building activities. But these are only snapshots of what it means to have a team culture in place.
It’s not just a series of things. Instead, team culture is actually a way of life for those who work so closely together each day.
Much like the term culture, in the traditional sense, it refers to the customs and traditions of different societies. And as you can see, team culture is a pretty intangible term. It’s hard to describe and even harder to implement – especially if you don’t know where to start.
Paving the path toward a successful team culture
If you're a project manager for a marketing agency, more likely than not, you work with design, content, development, and PPC teams all under the same roof. Each team is working on something different, but they all work together toward a common goal: create great marketing campaigns and build awesome websites for clients.
While each team might have its own ways of working, the team culture as a whole makes the entire operation feel cohesive. Teams interact and collaborate easily thanks to a backbone of trust, respect, and honesty.
Building and nurturing a team culture means creating open lines of communication between departments, understanding the needs of each team, and ensuring each of them can work toward the shared company goal.
Culture is actually about people and processes
We know we’ve mentioned free snacks a lot, but it’s an easy example to use. Even with all the free snacks in the world, your team won't feel respected or like they can have their say if there's no respect toward everyone on the team.
Holding everyone to the same standards is crucial to ensure your team feels like they have a voice. One of the biggest problems that send teams spiraling is a lack of proper resource planning.
Your team is probably working across various projects or different clients each day. It's essential to not overload a single or even a few team members and under-source the rest.
We understand the challenges of assigning work and planning through your available resources, especially when big projects come from the top-down or when a new client signs with your agency. The work has to be done, but over-assigning to specific individuals will kill team culture.
People feel more empowered when they know they're held to the same standards as the rest of the team. In fact, this can actually help spark collaboration when everyone works toward the same goal.
This is just a small portion of what goes into making a better team culture, but properly resourcing your team is a good starting point. If you haven't already, it's time to invest in resource management software to get your team up-to-speed to know who is working on what.
Good team culture is at the heart of collaboration
Collaboration requires everyone to be on the same page. A solid team culture not only creates a space for teams to collaborate, but it gives them guidelines for how to do so in a way that promotes respect and trust.
Team members should be allowed to freely collaborate, share knowledge, communicate, and support each other. When you have a good team culture, collaboration comes easily because you have:
Constructive feedback channels
Accessible communication platforms
Dedicated processes and systems
Give your team the right tools to better collaborate. Task management features help detail exactly who and what is being requested is a great way to create more clarity.
With in-depth task reporting, you gain insights into task completion rates and project health trends, so you know where everything stands. And this isn't just to say you should monitor your team's work to make sure it's completed.
Instead, project health details can help you reallocate resources to those who can assist and prevent the burnout of certain employees.
5 ways you can build a collaborative team culture
When implemented correctly, team culture boosts happiness, productivity, commitment, and engagement. But to get there, you have to consistently take small steps.
We're providing you with five ways to build a more collaborative team culture so your group can start creating more fluid workflows and processes. Let's get started.
1. Create a big-picture vision for your team to work toward
While different departments might have their own agenda, it’s important that your team, as a whole, is focused on a collective goal. For the marketing agency example previously mentioned, that might be creating successful marketing campaigns. For a design company, it might mean building sustainable websites for new brands.
Try to dig deeper than simply “what you want to achieve” as a business. Think about qualitative things like:
How do you want clients to feel when they work with you?
What makes you different from other marketing agencies or design companies?
What is your overall vision for the company?
You also need to prepare for the available resources you will have available when launching a big project or onboarding a new client. Use the Teamwork Advanced Resource Scheduler to plot out projects in advance as far as the month, quarter, or year.
Once your work is confirmed, get your team on the Resource Scheduler so you can allocate the time on that project across days and weeks to available team members.
By working within the bigger picture, you provide a purpose. When everybody rallies behind a shared purpose, they’re more motivated to do their best.
Because they’re invested in the outcome. They connect to the mission and want to be a part of its success (and impact). This leads us to our next point: team members need to understand how their individual involvement contributes to the bigger picture.
2. Create a feedback system to constantly improve team morale
Feedback is a huge part of nurturing a good team culture and fostering successful collaboration. A good team culture requires a consistent feedback system that helps team members improve and do their best.
Chances are, you’re already providing feedback in some way. Whether it’s through one-on-one meetings or written notes at the end of a project, you're giving helpful evaluations, criticisms, or tips to improve.
But to ensure your feedback is providing maximum value, it’s important to get to know your team and their preferred feedback methods. Does someone on your design team prefer in-person feedback? Or do you know if your content manager would rather receive feedback in a written statement to go through at any time?
Figure out what each person wants and create a system that accommodates all of them. A project solution like Teamwork Spaces helps log feedback in one centralized place to schedule feedback meetings and store notes for team members to go over in their spare time.
You can also use Teamwork's Chat Software to efficiently communicate between team members. New businesses and growing agencies often rely on Google's suite of products to communicate, but as we all know, email can be a major time suck.
Get out of the endless email threads and limited Hangouts features and ensure your collaboration software includes more. Stay ahead of any grievances or confusion with feature-rich chat software so you avoid dents in your team culture foundation.
3. Include your team at all times to further instill trust
Bringing in team members midway through a project might feel like you’re saving them time. But getting them involved from the start ensures they’ll have a better understanding of stakeholder wants and needs.
Plus, they can share their own creative ideas from the get-go. Even if they don’t get implemented, participating helps people feel like they contributed in a positive way toward the project.
You also won’t need to spend time bringing them up to speed when you’ve got looming deadlines around the corner. Try using one of the several Teamwork project management templates to kick off your projects.
In fact, the Project Tracker template is perfect for teams who need to ensure everyone has a top-level view of the project. It also helps team leads from forgetting any of the essential to-dos when building a project charter.
Additionally, ensure your project management system makes collaboration at every stage of the project a breeze. Provide detailed information on tasks so everyone understands who owns what and the expectations for everyone.
The more efficient you can be with assigning tasks, the better your team can communicate with one another. Smooth projects make people happy. And happy people make for better team culture.
4. Set goals and hold team members accountable for their work
Accountability is key to keeping team members productive and ensuring they feel like they are contributing to the big picture vision. Simply providing feedback often isn’t enough.
Everyone needs to be aware of what they’re working on, what they’re working towards, and who else is working alongside them. As well as individual accountability, you can implement group accountability that might involve rewards or incentives for team members.
With the help of workload features in your project management solution, team leads get a better view of who is working toward what. And if it helps to share this with the team, then do it!
Give your team something to work toward and the recognition gained can encourage prosocial behavior which increases productivity and personal pride. Rewarding individuals encourages pride in the work they do which has a knock-on effect for group accountability.
When multiple people are working towards a shared goal, it increases workplace morale.
5. Realize team culture is an ongoing process that needs a lot of your attention
You can’t create team culture overnight and you have to work hard to keep team members on the same page. Outlining your beliefs, values, and customs is a good place to start.
From there, it’s a case of building on that to accommodate the different wants and needs of your team. Feedback, communication, goals, and accountability play a huge part in team culture.
Implementing systems that allow you to foster these areas makes a huge difference. Ultimately, it gives your team space to grow and evolve on their own. Make sure you're constantly going back to the drawing board to improve.
Building a better team culture will not be a quick solution for your business, and without continuous collaboration efforts, it won't last forever. Once you’ve created a positive workplace culture, your team will flourish.
And most importantly, it will help you get your team to work together toward a big-picture vision. If you want to start building a better team culture, sign up now for a free 30-day trial of Teamwork and see why 20,000 businesses rely on our software every day.