Great team culture doesn’t just happen. It’s built with hard work, talented colleagues and great leaders.
The Talent Plus research team has been studying the relationship between talent and culture for decades, collecting data via assessments and person-to-person interviews across industries. Our team has studied clients over time (some for more than 15 years) with anywhere from 200 to 40,000 employees, ranging from frontline staff to C-suite leaders. We have done this with the intention to understand the impact of talent and team dynamics on workplace culture. We distilled these insights into a whitepaper — Unlock Talent Strategies for Stronger Teams — which dives into strong team culture and the research behind it in great detail. Here is a summary:
Strong team culture isn’t something you can decide not to have. It develops whether it’s intentionally or purposefully built. Too often organizations look at leadership in isolation rather than as part of the team. But teams of talented individuals are just as important to leaders as leaders are to teams. The relationship is symbiotic, interdependent and mutually beneficial. If we focus on only individuals rather than the team, our research says, great people will leave. After understanding everyone plays a critical role, our research points to four actions organizations can take to build workplace culture.
1. Understand Leaders and Their Individual Strengths
Culture starts at the top, so mine your leaders and find what qualities they bring to the table. To do this, conduct a series of interviews. Start with a strengths-focused interview and coach leaders on how to best leverage their strengths. An Executive Interview can assess who a leader is and how they might model that leadership. Follow these interviews with management coaching so they can continue to use their strengths for the betterment of themselves, their teams and the organization. Leveraging a leader’s strengths is a much more effective team culture-building strategy than trying to improve weaknesses.
2. Empower Leaders to Lead Each Team Member Individually
Fueled by interviews and coaching, leaders can take their knowledge into their own relationships. When leaders choose to be open and vulnerable, it sets an example for their teams. It says: This is a learning environment. And in turn, the team is more transparent with career ambitions, talents and mistakes, which lays the foundation for growth.
Leaders can use what they learned to help their teams discover their individual strengths and motivations, and then coach to those individual strengths. A formal assessment can help pinpoint, connect and develop each individual. Leaders who invest in their teams grow the business, decrease turnover, report higher job satisfaction among their teammates and foster a more positive workplace culture.
3. Coach Leaders to Understand Team Dynamics
It’s a leader’s responsibility to mesh the talents of individuals into a successful team. By understanding what each person does well, leaders can put the right people in the right places for them to succeed.
Leaders should answer certain questions about their teams:
- Where is the team strongest?
- Where is the team weakest?
- How can I individualize coaching?
- How does my understanding of the team shape its future state?
The answers to these questions will also help inform how you onboard new team members.
4. Assess the Gaps
Teams change, so it’s important to assess and reassess constantly. Our assessments always ask how teams work together now and how they want to work together in the future.
Sometimes engagement or satisfaction surveys don’t capture team dynamics or involve the team in solutions, but assessing gaps together can help with buy-in and creating a positive work culture. Leaders should view gaps as opportunities rather than problems or weaknesses. Use gaps to set goals and gauge growth.
Real-time assessments like TeamView can help show how a team is doing compared to how they want to be doing.
Don’t Leave It to Chance
Team culture isn’t just a buzzword or trend. It’s evolving even if leaders aren’t making a conscious effort to build it. Leaders can leave work culture to chance and risk a toxic environment, or they can be proactive about building a positive culture of growth so teams (and your business) can thrive at work.