How To Carve Out a Great Team Culture in a Fast Growing, Changing Company?

“Hi, Karin, our company is growing so fast, I’m not even sure what our CULTURE is. I’d like to have some semblance of unity on my team, but I’m not sure where to start. How do I CARVE OUT A TEAM CULTURE?”

Great question! You can (and should) work to build a culture for your focus on influence. You don’t need to wait for the bigger culture to emerge. Here are a few places to start building your team culture:

Team Culture: Pick and reward good pumpkins (talent)

When you have an opportunity to bring new members to the team, be sure you’re hiring for the team culture you’re looking to create.

And reward and celebrate the values and behaviors you want more of for every member of the team.

Team Culture: Get rid of the obstacles and roadblocks getting in the way

Support your team, by eliminating toxic courage crushers and sloppy “we’ve always done it this way” thinking. Create your team culture by encouraging innovation and alignment. Make it easier for your team to work together.

Team Culture: Create real clarity — get surgical about what you’re really asking people to do

Create clarity and get surgically specific about the MIT (most important thing – one of our 6 core competencies of leadership). Make sure your team understands your team values, strategies, initiatives, activities, and HABITS that are critical for success. Be sure your team has a shared understanding of what success looks like.

When we do this work with teams in our strategic leadership programs, most employees find aligning on the values is the easy part. It’s the art of translating these values into concrete behaviors that can be more challenging.

For example, we were working with one team that selected a core value of “compassion” to build their team culture.

Then, as they worked to define how that meant they would treat people externally (e.g. their customers, their suppliers, and their industry peers) and internally (their employees) the behaviors seemed straightforward at first.

For example, “We truly listen to people and their needs and work to make their lives better.”

But what happens when an urgent and important client request causes your entire team to work all day Sunday? The compassionate response for your client might be to do everything you can to meet their needs.

Of course, there’s also the issue of translating compassion into behaviors for your employees as well. How does compassion play into that Sunday request?

Testing these aspirational values against real-world competing pressures provides real clarity, and helps guide problem-solving and decision-making down the line.

Team Culture: Illuminate and empower your team’s ideas

Celebrate success. Empower innovation. In our book, Courageous Cultures, we talk about how to create a culture with higher engagement and a results-oriented approach to innovation. In this kind of culture, your team members speak up, share their ideas, and drive quality performance and productivity. 

If you haven’t already done this – download our I.D.E.A. Incubator Guide. It’s your free guide to a power-packed team innovation session that will mobilize courage and increase team engagement.

What would you add? What are some of your favorite best practices to CARVE OUT A GREAT TEAM CULTURE?

Related: Workplace Conflict: Why It’s So Tricky Now and What To Do About It