In your team, do team members listen to each other and ensure that everyone’s views are heard? Do you all work together, helping each other out in an urgent situation?
Team culture is a composite of the spoken and unspoken ways that team members communicate, engage and understand each other. Some of these ways can be invisible but you can sense that they’re there. Understanding your team’s cultural norms – and making improvements where necessary – is one of the most important factors that drive team performance. Here are 3 signs that your team needs to pay attention to its culture.
1. Listening isn’t happening
During team meetings the most vocal or the most opinionated get heard and the quieter ones get drowned out. On projects or team tasks some people dominate and don’t listen to others’ views.
Active, respectful and concentrated listening is the hallmark of teams with healthy cultures. Listening requires asking good, curious, open questions that allow others the space and time to voice their thoughts and creativity. It also requires you to remain silent when others speak. Explore the potential of other team members by asking them what they think and really listen to their answers.
2. There’s rumbling, low-lying conflict When team members openly disagree, dig their heels in or become obstinate then there is an unhealthy team culture. When they disregard the thoughts of others or even worse, put them down in front of stakeholders or clients then the team is dysfunctional.
Now, it’s great when team members disagree with each other; not to win an argument but to push forward the boundaries of their ideas and expand their thinking. I’m all for this type of conflict. It just needs to be well-intentioned disagreement which is entered into with the goal of better outcomes in mind. Teams should agree conflict norms which allow them to productively disagree in a managed, thoughtful and adult way. Doing this will enhance the quantity and quality of your team’s performance outputs.
3.Dig-outs don’t happen
Dig-outs mean times when team members help their team mates who are struggling under too much work or time pressures. Are you and your team members aware when others are struggling and need a hand? Do you check-in with each other formally during team meetings and on an ad hoc basis to see who’s got a lot on and offer them some practical support?
If this isn’t happening, why not and what can you do about it? This is an easy one to improve, you just need to walk up to a colleague who seems to be stressed or under pressure and ask them if they need help. And then help them!
Avoid these 3 team culture pitfalls by constantly thinking about how you contribute to a positive or negative team environment. You can start to create and maintain the team culture you want in every conversation or interaction you have with your team members.