Build Team Culture in the New Dual Work Environment
Many organizations are challenged with how to nurture and develop their cultures in light of the new hybrid working model, where employees work both from home and their offices.
Things can be done at the organizational level to achieve this cultural objective. For example, one client (approx. 200 people), plans to host a number employee conferences a year to allow employees time to socialize, build relationships, learn from each other and build the culture they desire.
This got me wondering what one can do practically and impactfully at the team level?
A simple framework to build culture at the team level
I suggest these four steps:
1. Set aside time for a team meeting to discuss the following questions:
a) Create focus question for the discussion. For example “In light of the changes happening, what is the culture that we most want to create?”
b) Ask: ”What do we need to keep doing?”
c) Ask: “What do we need to do more of to achieve the desired culture?”
2. Acknowledge and recognize the strengths surfaced under 1 b.
3. Review the things listed under 1 c, and reach consensus on the priorities (probably 4 or 5) that the team feel are the most important.
4. Over the next 6 months, ensure that the priorities are reviewed and discussed as a way of embedding them in your team culture.
How this worked out for my team
This week, I experimented with this approach during a Kwela team meeting. We have seven team members and the activities took about 40 min. This is what transpired:
1. Focus: The desired Kwela culture
2. What should we keep doing? (the following are actual sample comments)
– Take time just to connect and continue: our impromptu discussions and check-ins (using Teams & Zoom); our weekly coffee and other scheduled meetings; the great icebreakers we use at the beginning of these meetings
– Keep giving each other feedback
– Carry on the recognition (“It’s the first time in my career where I’ve seen so much recognition”)
– Continue the support we get in learning and in getting better
3. What should we do more of? (again, sample comments)
– Hold our annual strategy meeting offsite / have a retreat
– Do monthly meetings in person when we feel safe
– Use better judgment when choosing the communication medium we use for complex / conflict topics, begin with a verbal chat instead
– Do “feedforward” (giving advice and suggestions) with each other more consistently
Our team felt that the “keep doing” suggestions were a great reminder of our strengths and that some of the “more of” ideas had merit for implementation. Over the next few months, our plan is find ways to keep the prioritized suggestions given in the forefront.
The four steps are a simple, yet time efficient and practical way to build team culture. Consider giving it a go!
Nic Tsangarakis, Principal