Does Your Company Culture Need a Boost?
At Atmosphere, we are firm believers in the importance of team dynamics and corporate culture being built and fed with intention. For that reason, we're offering offsite team building experiences designed to super-charge your culture-building efforts. Offsite experiences are great and all, but we believe these experiences must be supported by long-term culture-building efforts.
In organizations with a more traditional and hierarchical structure, growth is usually seen in high-performance individuals, but there’s often little thought given to how achieving team goals and designing healthy culture dynamics can lead to massive growth. A collaborative culture helps to not only attract and retain the best talent, but also improves the performance levels of all team members, even those who are typically the average performers. This creates an environment where ownership and autonomy are encouraged, and builds a culture that is nimble enough to adapt in today’s ever-changing world. Creating culture change within your organization is a long-term, multi-step process that requires a dive deep into your team’s strengths & weaknesses, utilizing experiential learning, developing a long term strategy and leading by example from the top down.
Step One: Diagnose Strengths and Weaknesses
The makeup of every team is different and each individual will bring their unique perspective and set of skills to the table. Take the time to meet with everyone on the team and objectively evaluate their skill set and how it is currently being used. Compare this to a model of the skill makeup an “ideal” team would have. There are many ways to reach your end goals, so allow freedom for team members to opt-in where they want to bring their skills to the table. Be open to the reality that failure *is* an option (and a necessary part of the process) while you try to strike the balance of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. This cycle of learning about team strengths and applying them to reach goals will be ongoing. Blend various skill sets and viewpoints to minimize groupthink and blind spots.
Step Two: Learn Together by Doing Together
Your team must learn to work and interact in a way that supports and encourages open communication and builds on each other’s strengths. But typical team building activities (think trust falls or egg carrying contests) tend to induce more eye rolls amongst teammates than high-fives.
Theoretical exercises are difficult to translate into real work activities. The best team-building activities are ones that incorporate real work needs while encouraging new forms of creativity and collaboration. With skilled facilitation, team members draw lessons about how they communicate, operate in meetings, collaborate and work to make decisions which can immediately be taken back to the office and applied to their everyday work.
Step Three: Develop a Long Term Strategy
Managers often arrange for a retreat or team-building day, without first developing a long term strategy to support their efforts. A single day on its own may result in a brief motivational surge, but the energy is sure to fade without an appropriate follow-up plan. Your organization has evolved its character over many years. One offsite day will not have a lasting or significant impact on the deeply-rooted norms and practices of the team. Before your team building session, strategically plan activities, both small and big, that build on each other. These activities will become part of your team’s cultural language. Track your team’s shifting culture with interviews and surveys in order to evaluate your progress. It is common to overlook the way team building efforts are creating change without putting in place a method for regular evaluation and reflection.
Step Four: Lead by Example
You know it when your heart’s in it for the wrong reasons. So does your team. Being in a formal position of leadership means the team will look to you for cues on how to act. Ensure your everyday actions showcase how you expect them to collaborate across the entire team. Be transparent in the issues you are facing and open to accepting ideas from all those around you, not just those who you *have* to listen to. Become the person your team wants to listen to because your actions show your dedication to both the culture of your organization and to the success of each individual on the team.
Step Five: Build the Culture You Desire
Building a culture of innovation is one of the most challenging tasks a leader will undertake. While change is slow and full of bumps along the way, the rewards are far reaching and long lasting. You can build a loyal, dedicated team that takes ownership in their areas of expertise, shows sound judgement and a true emotional attachment to the team’s success while staying true to the company’s overarching values. This allows for sustainable and manageable growth, even in the midst of an ever-evolving competitive landscape.
Ready to help your team build a culture of innovation? Learn more about our team building offsite offerings.