If you lead a team, how often do you ask yourself “How are we going as a team right now?”
I asked someone this question this week who said “I think everything’s okay, we’re getting things done”. He then went on to talk about projects being implemented and current results.
It’s easy to get caught up in “how are we doing” vs “how are we being”. People want to connect in to their work – through the culture – to have experiences where they feel happy and satisfied knowing meaningful progress is being made.
We are human beings, not human doings
The recent Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report revealed the top HR challenges within Australia are culture, leadership, and engagement¹
Good leaders, reflecting on their own performance, start within the context of culture:
- Is my team happy? Are my key stakeholders happy?
- Are we living the values we agreed?
- Are we improving where it counts, and is our pace right?
- What do my team need of me – who do I need to be for them right now?
Culture is never static – it’s always building positively or being driven negatively
Without benchmarks, assessing culture is often tied to hoping, wishing and waiting for something to change or get better.
Here are three questions to benchmark whether culture is building positively in your team:
1. Are we building momentum?
Do you feel confident that progress is being made, for example, within your people capability, systems, or results? If so, is the progress being measured to know that outcomes are visibly and positively impacting your business?
If there is measurable progress that is building momentum, then culture is being positively built.
2. Are we developing, maintaining or improving the systems/processes that matter?
This question distinguishes high performing teams. Momentum without structure is a waste of time and effort.
If there is consistent focus on the core operation (engine room) of what your team does (building core, maintaining core, optimising core), then culture is being positively built.
3. Are we treating each other the best we can?
Great culture relies on having the right people on board.
Everyone contributes to the culture positively or negatively in any interaction, making everyone responsible for it. Culture is much more than Friday night drinks and birthday morning teas – they are the outcomes of culture. Team culture is built from what is behind the scenes, based on a standard of gratitude and appreciation. To what degree does your team demonstrate:
- Trust and taking care “I have your back, and I know you have mine”
- Strong communication and collaboration
- 100% commitment to promises made
- Open feedback and transparency
- Willingness to lean in with a ‘can do’ attitude
- Having fun
The easiest way to know culture is slipping is to notice how your team is treating each other.
If there is less care, less kindness and less reciprocal giving, then it’s time to get everyone back on track.
Bringing it all together
One of the most important things to obsess over as a leader is your team culture. Knowing the benchmarks for assessing whether your culture is moving north or south at any given time can ensure you focus on the things that are going to build positive momentum in your team.
How does your team stack up on these cultural benchmarks: momentum, structure, and people? Are you ready to take your leadership performance to the next level? What would a positive culture boost mean for your team?