Unlock Your Team’s Performance Through Culture – Here’s Where To Start

Great teams with a great culture can achieve amazing things – and create competitive advantage along the way (take Zappos and software provider Atlasssian whose values based cultures drive every part of their business).

Culture is much more than the common expression of “it’s the way we do things around here”.

Looking at culture through a different lens, culture is created through people’s moments of experience and the feelings created from those moments, rather than culture simply being a process or way of things being done.

Positive culture is created from moments of ‘connected’ interaction

Everyone creates workplace culture either positively or negatively in every interaction, every day. Culture isn’t static.

The following examples show how:

  • You’re acknowledged with a smile and ‘hi’ by others around you when you start work (I belong here)
  • You receive feedback straight away that helps you do it better next time (I matter)
  • You meet your daily target and everyone in your team stops for a minute to give you a high five (I’m valued).

We all want to feel like we belong, that we matter, and that our contribution makes a difference.

Feeling ‘connected’ plays a critical role in people wanting to do their best and bring their best. Yet the reality is that many people don’t have these needs met at work – and we all share these same universal needs!

For high team performance as a starting point, people need to feel they belong, and know their contribution is recognised and valued.

High performance culture and team spirit is based on trust, connectedness and appreciation

Team strength is built on the above ingredients that elevate people along the way. Yet, global research highlights the actual scary workplace reality:

  • Globally, over 70% of employees are disengaged with their work
  • In Australia, 52% of employees claim to have been bullied
  • Less than 10% of leaders in organisations know how to lead culture.

If so few leaders know how to shape culture, then where do they start?

Building a high performance team culture starts with everyone taking responsibility for who they need to be to create it. And that starts with you.

Here are five key principals for ‘how to be’ to make it real for people to feel connected, with some examples of what each principal means in practical terms. Be the example to lead the change first, and then weave these into your team.

1. Be you – be ‘real’

  • Bring ‘all of you’ to work and be true to who you are. Have the courage to be you.
  • Be vulnerable and be okay with mistakes (if the learning is gained). We are all imperfect – so get over yourself, turn your unresourceful ego off, and take yourself lightly. Have fun.

2. Be clear on your standards

  • Know the values: walk your talk, and bring the values to life through stories and examples.
  • Keep your promises and commitments without exception.
  • Know your performance benchmarks for what you and the team are aiming for.

3. Be trustworthy

  • Have people know that you have their back and find ways to demonstrate it. Have everyone know “we’re in this together”.

4. Be open and value diversity

  • Recognise that when there isn’t one right answer or a single aim, then different perspectives create new thinking. No one perspective is right or wrong – some will simply be more useful than others.
  • Be transparent and give feedback openly.

5. Be kind and generous

  • Show that you genuinely care. Be present and listen.
  • Celebrate little successes as well as big ones.

In conclusion, Friday night drinks and birthday morning teas are the outcomes of culture, they are not what creates culture. Team get togethers only meet their objective when people already feel valued and appreciated. Ultimately, everyone needs to take responsibility for creating the culture that brings out the best in everyone.

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