Hard skills in sales and marketing are, of course, critical to any team’s ability to execute on their revenue targets. But they’re not the only factor – culture matters just as much. As Afterburner’s clients will tell you, if you can figure out how to build a team culture that gets everyone on your team energized, strategically aligned, and organized around a common mental model, your power to hit your goals will amount to more than the sum of your employees’ individual skills.
This article will focus on how leaders can build a healthy, positive team culture, and why this is so important for successfully achieving your Mission Objective in business today.
Why Building a Solid Team Culture Matters Now More Than Ever
The importance of team culture is not a new concept. During job interviews, for example, evaluating applicants for their “culture fit” has long been a key part of the process.
But in today’s business landscape, it’s more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new era, largely characterized by remote work and economic instability, that has caused employees to feel less connected to their jobs. Many even feel disillusioned with conventional work in general.
In this environment, giving your employees a reason to feel connected to their team is imperative. By building a strong team culture, you’ll make your employees feel invested in their teammates, your Mission Objective, and the success of your company. They’ll associate their work with a sense of pride, mutual support, solidarity, and meaningful achievements. This will go a long way toward overcoming the biggest challenges teams face in business today.
How to Build a Team Culture That Powers elite Performance
Here’s how to build a team culture both you and your employees will be proud of.
1. Communicate thoroughly and transparently
You can’t have a successful culture unless everyone on your team understands, and believes in, your mission. And getting to that point requires thorough and transparent communication.
As a leader, it’s your job to paint a clear, detailed picture of your Mission Objective. What are you striving to accomplish? Why is it important? How will each individual team member’s activities meaningfully contribute to your success in achieving this mission? Think big-picture: If you’re a sales leader, don’t just talk about hitting your number – show how doing so will help your company secure another round of investment, or make a positive impact in the lives of your customers, or turn your company into a household name.
All the while, make sure you’re transparent, as well. Be up-front about the challenges your team may face along the way to achieving your mission. This helps build trust, which is a core pillar of any healthy team culture.
2. Get your team excited
Getting everyone bought into your Mission Objective is one thing. Getting them excited to actually execute on it is another.
The kind of big-picture communication we just discussed, focusing on the meaningful impact of your work and your success, can go a long way toward generating this kind of excitement. Beyond that, though, there are plenty of other things you can do, like planning high-energy in-person social or working events or fostering an atmosphere of solidarity in the workplace.
Learn more below:
How to Build Excitement Across Your Team
3. Promote mutual support
One of the most impactful things you can do to build a strong team culture is to make the individuals on your team feel invested in each other’s success.
Get your team to a place where they feel comfortable task shedding – that is, delegating certain tasks to a teammate when they’re overloaded. Make it a two-way street, so that they also offer support to teammates in need. This creates the kind of culture that’s focused on the success of the collective, not just the individual.
With economic constraints forcing teams to do more with less, it’s easier than ever for individuals to get task saturated and succumb to distractions, which can throw you off your trajectory toward your goal.
Getting your team into the habit of providing support to teammates, and requesting it when needed, is a key component of fostering teamwork culture across your organization and meeting the current moment.
4. Emphasize accountability
By nature, culture belongs to the collective. But, perhaps paradoxically, you can’t have a strong collective team culture without individual accountability. That means each team member must have a 360-degree understanding of the tasks and priorities they’re responsible for fulfilling, as well as the mindset to take full ownership of those tasks.
Why is accountability in team dynamics so critical? Because without it, it quickly becomes difficult to diagnose the root causes of failed missions or other problems. This leads to finger-pointing, which can be actively harmful to your culture-building efforts.
5. Celebrate individual wins – collectively
When a sales rep closes a deal, that rep earns a commission. This is an important and well-deserved form of compensation, to be sure – but it also restricts the excitement of success to the individual.
On top of commission-based ways to reward success, try to turn each individual employee’s wins into a teamwide celebration. Call them out in your team meetings. Maybe even take your team out to lunch if the win is particularly big. And don’t restrict it just to sales wins – whatever someone’s role, it’s good to give them recognition for a job well done.
By acknowledging and celebrating each individual’s success with your whole team, you’re framing that success as a step toward achieving the Mission Objective you all share. That gives everyone a reason to be happy – and does a lot to build the kind of unified team culture you should be striving for.
6. Provide training to new hires
Once you’ve figured out how to build a team culture that drives performance and brings out the best in each team member, make sure each new hire is welcomed into that culture as soon as possible.
The onboarding stage is about much more than technical training, SOPs, and administrative checklists. It’s a chance to familiarize new hires with your Mission Objective and get them excited to contribute to it.
And it can start on Day 1. The sooner each new team member is brought into the fold, the sooner they’ll feel the kind of solidarity with the rest of your team that strengthens the culture even further.
Challenges in the business landscape show no signs of slowing down. In this new reality, the question of how to build a team culture that’s right for you has taken on ever greater importance.
Following these steps can help you answer that question. And once you do that, elite performance won’t be far behind.
As a business leader, what strategies have you found effective when building your team culture? What challenges have you run into? Get in touch to tell us about it – we’d love to hear your perspective.