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What Makes a Great Team Culture? Checklist, Tips, and Examples

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the definition of good team culture, review the examples of high-performing teams, and provide you with a checklist to make a tangible difference in your team's success.

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What is team culture? It goes beyond mere buzzwords or trends. Having highly engaged employees can lead up to a 2x increase in performance. That’s why establishing a healthy team culture is an intricate task. Requiring more than simply aligning goals, it calls for a harmonized effort that nurtures collaboration, trust, and innovation, integral to our continued success across various sectors.

What is team culture? 👥

So, what is the definition of team culture, also known as company culture? Teamwork culture is a set of values and rules that define the way your company reaches its goals, solves problems, communicates, and interacts. According to Deloitte research, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is vital to business success.

A team's culture is the collective personality of a team, shaped by values, beliefs, and practices. Think of it as the glue that binds people or the unwritten rulebook everyone follows. But what makes it so vital?

  • Reflection of values: Team culture represents the fundamental principles that guide your team's behavior and decisions. It is defined by shared values ingrained in how people operate and interact within the group.
  • Cooperation style: From how team members communicate in a remote environment to how they tackle challenges or boost their morale, team culture shapes the everyday interactions that define the working environment.
  • Unity and collaboration: A positive team culture encourages members to work together, respecting and leveraging each other's unique skills and perspectives. It's the essence of teamwork, where the whole becomes more significant than the sum of its parts.
  • Growth and success: Team culture is a dynamic force within our organization, fostering growth and continuous learning. It is a foundation for individual and collective achievement, cultivating an environment where innovative ideas emerge and flourish.
  • A sense of belonging: In a world where work is often a significant part of our lives, team culture offers a sense of community and belonging. It's that feeling of being part of something bigger, where everyone has a voice and individuality is celebrated. Today, nearly 40% of people say they’re isolated at work, lowering organizational engagement.

Next time you're in a team meeting, observe the subtle signs of your organizational culture. It's evident in every interaction, from the people working with each other to the alignment of shared goals. Company culture is the underlying force that unifies your team, driving productivity and fostering an environment for growth.

Types of team culture 📝

Different teams often exhibit unique cultural traits, reflecting their goals, values, and ways of working together. Here are five distinct types of team culture that can be found in various organizations:

Collaborative culture 🤝

A collaborative culture thrives on the following:

  • Open communication
  • Teamwork
  • Shared decision-making

In such a setting, you might find a product development team that relies on cross-functional collaboration. Designers, engineers, and marketers work closely together, forging a strong sense of unity and shared ownership of the product's success.

Examples of teams with collaborative cultures:

  • Google
  • Salesforce
  • Spotify

Innovative culture ✨

An innovative culture is characterized by the following:

  • Creativity
  • Risk-taking
  • Relentless passion for finding new solutions

A classic example might be a tech startup where team members are encouraged to experiment with fresh ideas. Here, failure isn't feared but embraced as a learning opportunity, fostering a culture that continuously drives innovation.

Examples of teams with innovative cultures:

  • Apple
  • Tesla
  • Amazon

Performance-driven culture 🏃‍♀️

A performance-driven culture is marked by the following:

  • Goal orientation
  • Competitiveness
  • A robust focus on results

A performance-driven environment can create high energy and competitiveness but also necessitate a watchful eye to prevent burnout and overwork.

Examples of teams with performance-driven cultures are:

  • Procter & Gamble (P&G)
  • Walmart
  • Johnson & Johnson

Remember that these culture types are not mutually exclusive. Companies can combine and foster a few culture team types simultaneously. Also, remember that the importance of team culture lies in finding the right balance, and aligning the culture with the team's essence and the organization's broader values.

Key benefits of developing team culture in your company ✅

While team culture, when embraced and implemented, brings tons of advantages, some organizations are still looking for concrete ways to bring positive change. Let's explore the key benefits of developing a strong team culture within a company:

1. Improves performance 🔼

A performance-driven group culture that recognizes and rewards achievements can motivate team members to reach their full potential. In particular, Gallup's study found that highly engaged employees are 17% more productive than their less engaged peers. Clear goals, regular feedback, and a focus on results align the team's efforts, leading to improved efficiency and overall performance.

2. Fosters personal growth 🌱

Invest in a supportive culture emphasizing personal growth, well-being, and work-life balance to create a more fulfilled workforce. Employees feel valued and cared for, leading to lower turnover rates, higher employee engagement, and a more positive work environment.

3. Builds resilience and adaptability 🏃♂️

A strong culture of teamwork that values flexibility and adaptability, one of the best employee engagement trends, helps the team navigate changes and challenges gracefully. Encouraging a mindset that sees change as an opportunity rather than a threat builds resilience, allowing the company to weather storms and evolve with the changing business landscape.

4. Attracts and retains talent 🧑💼

A vibrant and positive team culture is a magnet for talent. According to McKinsey’s research, 54% of employees leaving the organization didn’t feel the company valued their word. Thus, a robust team culture can help retain employees and attract new talent. Prospective employees are drawn to companies where they feel they can belong, grow, have fun, and make a difference. Retaining this talent becomes more natural when the culture resonates with their values and aspirations.

Creating team culture is not merely a feel-good factor; it's a strategic advantage. It shapes how the team works, innovates, connects, and succeeds. Investing in team performance and culture requires care, attention, and nurturing. When properly cultivated, it can transform your company into a vibrant and productive environment.

What makes a great team culture? 🤔

Constructing an exemplary team culture is akin to crafting a gourmet meal – it requires the precise combination of essential components guided by a strategic vision. Here's a streamlined checklist to help you cultivate the ideal team environment:

1. Clear communication 💬 

Creating a harmonious team starts with open dialogue. Encourage everyone to share thoughts and concerns without judgment. Transparency in corporate communication is also essential, so keep everyone informed about decisions, changes, and expectations, ensuring that no one is left in the dark.

2. Shared goals 🥅

Setting common objectives helps the team understand what they're working toward. Encourage personal goals that align with the team's mission. This collaboration towards a shared purpose fuels momentum and keeps everyone on the same page.

3. Trust & respect 🤝 

One of the best examples of team culture is building confidence in team members' abilities, and judgment lays a strong foundation. Recognition and celebrating contributions, both big and small, foster a culture of appreciation, nurturing trust and respect among all team members.

4. Diversity & inclusion 🌈 

Valuing differences and embracing diverse backgrounds and perspectives strengthens the team's fabric. Fostering a sense of belonging ensures that everyone feels part of the team, creating a more enriching and supportive environment, as well as an inclusive team culture.

5. Flexibility & adaptability 🤸‍♀️ 

Embracing change and cultivating a mindset that sees change as an opportunity is crucial. Whether it is generative AI implemented in the work of a content marketing team or integration of tools such as Venngage for the creative visual representation of the content, be open to initiatives from your team. Offering tools and processes for simple adjustments helps employees handle unexpected changes, making them more self-assured and independent.

6. Healthy work-life balance ⚖️ 

A healthy work-life balance and overall well-being of employees should be a priority. You must create a more engaged and productive team by supporting mental and physical health, encouraging breaks, and ensuring a balanced workload.

7. Regular feedback sessions 👂 

An ongoing feedback system allows continuous assessment and improvement. Constructive criticism helps team members grow and improve while celebrating success and recognizes and affirms achievements. This process also helps the company identify strengths and weaknesses in a culture and creates a process of ongoing improvement and collaboration.

8. Positive environment 🙌 

An enjoyable workplace sets the stage for collaboration and increased innovation. Thus, fostering a pleasant climate and making physical and virtual workspaces friendly uplifts the team's spirit, possibly leading to more innovative solutions.

9. Growth opportunities 🌱 

One key point is to provide learning resources and employee training and development opportunities that encourage personal development. Assisting team members in reaching their career goals helps them grow and contributes to their overall success.

10. Strong leadership 🦸 

Leading by example and inspiring others to form the cornerstone of a great team. An empowering approach encourages autonomy while providing support when needed, allowing every team member to flourish.

Creating the perfect team environment requires thoughtful attention to communication, shared goals, trust, diversity, flexibility, balance, feedback, positivity, growth, and leadership. When all these elements from the checklist above come together, a robust, thriving team culture drives success.

How do you create a strong team culture? 💭

When you’re wondering how to describe team culture and adopt one for your context, the metaphor of sculpting a masterpiece from a stone block is the best. 

For individuals starting a company, it’s critical to start building a high performing team culture from scratch. In contrast, establishing teamwork in the existing organization requires carefully considering the existing practices and operations. Yet, let’s take a look at the step-by-step instruction that showcases how to create a strong team culture:

1. Brainstorm with the HR Team 🧠

Collaborating with the HR team helps lay the foundation of the company's culture. Together, you can identify and articulate the core values and mission that resonate with the business's vision. These principles will guide behavior within the organization and ensure that everyone is aligned.

2. Survey your team ❔

See if your vision is aligned with the team values and goals you've set up. Surveying the team members helps you understand your employees’ perceptions, beliefs, and values. By gathering their input and analyzing it, for example with ChatGPT, you can ensure the organization's goals align with the teams’ expectations and needs. This approach fosters a shared understanding and mutual respect.

3. Adjust the values, vision, and goals according to your team's feedback  ✍️

Feedback from the team is invaluable for fine-tuning organizational values, vision, and goals. Adjustments should be made if there is any discrepancy between the employees' expectations and the company's direction. It ensures that everyone feels heard and contributes to a sense of ownership.

4. Implement your values and mission in your workflow 🔀

Embedding the organizational values and mission into the daily workflow ensures consistency in practices and behavior. It could involve integrating the values into performance reviews, decision-making processes, and communication strategies. A living, breathing culture is present in everyday activities.

5. Set up a process for continuous regular acknowledgment 🤝

As we mentioned above, recognizing and rewarding team members for their contributions fosters a positive culture. Standard acknowledgment and appreciation boost morale and reinforce the behavior that aligns with the company’s values and goals.

6. Implement team building activities 🧩

Team building, DE&I, and corporate events help foster collaboration, trust, and understanding among team members. Engaging in fun and meaningful activities outside the usual work environment strengthens bonds and contributes to a more cohesive and effective team.

“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company's core values ultimately define the company's character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”

Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Examples of high-performing teams with inspiring team cultures 💡

Here are the high-performance teams examples that best showcase what it means to collaborate in a winning team culture atmosphere:

Confetti places emphasis on respect and empathy, recognizing the human interaction in every aspect of their business. Their dedication to growth and impact fuels innovation and genuine value creation. Confetti injects fun into every facet of the work environment, fostering camaraderie and a sense of enjoyment among its team members. Through these core values, Confetti not only builds a positive team culture but also consistently delivers quality customer service and memorable team-building experiences.

How to get started 👉 Download Confetti’s free eBook on navigating company culture in a distributed workforce! 
Free Ebook, Navigating the Workplace Revolution: Company Culture in a Distributed Workforce, Download the eBook

Atlassian stands out for its open company culture with no doors, emphasizing teamwork and collaboration. They are committed to diversity and inclusion and offer regular "ShipIt Days" where employees can work on creative projects. Their transparency and focus on innovation create a supportive and engaging workplace.

Salesforce's culture is rooted in the Hawaiian concept of "Ohana," or family. This connection extends to employees, customers, partners, and the community. Salesforce offers various philanthropic programs and promotes equality and environmental sustainability. Their 1-1-1 philanthropy model sets aside 1% of product, 1% of equity, and 1% of employees' time for community service.

So why is team culture important? 🎊

Team culture is more than a buzzword; it's the heartbeat of an organization. It’s how people interact, share goals, celebrate successes, and face challenges together. Examining different types, benefits, and examples shows that building a strong team culture is no easy task.

A positive and cohesive team culture can be the anchor that holds everything together. After all, building a great company culture for your team is more than just creating a place where people cooperate. Instead, it's about building a community where people thrive. If done right, team culture isn't just part of the success story; it is the success story.

Work towards your desired team culture with Confetti. Contact [email protected] to get started today! 
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