6 Free Methods to Build a Positive Team Culture

A positive team culture can be felt in the way management deals with staff, in the extent to which employees feel supported and in aspects like how team mates relate.

It extends to areas like whether or not there is a work life balance and if there are proper communication systems and clear ways to manage conflict, weed out toxicity and so much more.

The value that a positive team culture has on morale, wellbeing, retention and productivity cannot be overstated. Here are some free methods to build a positive team culture.

Create a values statement

Values define the behaviours that a company holds dear. They guide how people behave with each other and external stakeholders. A values statement is a message that summarises the values of the company. A mission statement on the other hand focuses on why the company exists and it hopes to achieve.

Here is an example of a values statement.

‘At Glossier, we see everyone as humans — not merely coworkers. To us, inclusivity is not only a value but an active verb: it is a choice that we make every day.’

A values statement is an important tool for building relationships because it gives teams something common to believe in. As a result, it is one of the ways to build team culture.

Get the team’s input on the values statement

In order to get the most out of creating a values statement and to use it to build a positive team culture, ask for the team’s input. Because you want people to find meaning in the values statement, you should try and involve them in creating it.

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Ask team members what values they resonate with most and which ones they feel guide them the most in their day to day dealings. Questions you ask them in a group session or in a survey can include; What do you value? Which values guide the way we interact with each other? What values help us in serving our clients?

It is important for both management and employees to put the values embodied in the values statement into practice. Encourage this by rewarding those who exemplify those values.

When team members give input to the value statements, they will feel valued. This is an important aspect when you want to build a positive team culture.  

Make respect a part of the organisation

To build a positive team culture, make respect part of how people treat each other. Respect shouldn’t just be seen between team mates or from employees towards their supervisors, it should also be directed from bosses towards employees.

When employees feel respected, they thrive both personally and at work according to research. That same research points out two different types of respect; owed and earned respect.

Owed respect is entailed in the civil treatment of others. Treating others with politeness and kindness, listening to each other, not insulting or not demeaning all fall under owed respect. Earned respect recognises those who display qualities and behaviours that are valued by the organisation. These can include arriving on time and exceeding expectations.

It is important for managers to encourage and exhibit a balance of both these types of respect. Over reliance on owed respect might kill drive to excel but leaning towards earned respect alone might undermine healthy team dynamics.

Keep up the praise

Recognition and praise are important factors in boosting morale and building a positive team culture. Offering recognition when goals are met and exceeded makes for a more positive workplace. Spread the culture of recognition by encouraging teammates to praise each other. 

Some groups have a session before or after meetings where they recognise someone who did something to help them out. Others have a gratitude wall where anyone can publicly share a note of praise, recognition or thanks to another team mate.

Leaders should set an example for this by offering praise to others. Teams will replicate this behaviour and this will build a positive team culture.

Make sure that praise isn’t only limited to meeting work goals. Culture is also about how people feel about and treat each other. To that end, people should receive recognition for doing things that ease or improve the lives of colleagues. Just like with giving praise for achieving workplace goals, leadership should set the example for this.

Respect life outside of work

Team members have life outside of work and to bring their best selves to work, their personal lives have to be taken care of. Encourage people to take their leave days. In addition, make accommodations for those unplanned for occurrences in life by giving people a day off when they ask for it.

Managers have a role to play here, not in only giving an example and taking their own leave days but by taking an interest in the lives of their employees. Find out how a parent is doing or how a child’s recital went.

Having a work life balance allows employees to rest, recharge and is a good way to prevent burnout. 

Define how to act in hard times

When building a team culture, don’t forget to incorporate how you would like people to behave in hard times. It is inevitable that bad times or even slumps will arise in work. In such times, have practices to offer support.

If for instance a colleague is sick, both colleagues and the organisation should have ways in which to offer support. In the same way, build a support system for how people can come together when an organisation is struggling. During the Covid pandemic, some organisations were forced to make pay cuts. Despite that, some did not lose their staff. A positive team culture could be one of the factors why.

In Summary

It is important to build a positive team culture no matter your industry. The benefits range from improved employee wellbeing, improved productivity and improved interpersonal dynamics. The beauty of building a positive team culture is that it can be done without spending much money. Being deliberate and consistent with these methods can get you there. 

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.