What do you imagine by the word ‘culture?’ It means some values accepted by society. It may be present in art, communication, development or other areas. So team culture is everything that is accepted inside the team. It’s about how team members interact, reach the goals of the whole team together and just spend time.
In this article, you will find a lot of information about team culture as a phenomenon, find out what grave mistake Elon Musk makes in team management and learn how to build a culture in your team by avoiding mistakes of business sharks.
Besides, building a productive culture in a remote team is much more complicated than in an office one, and the main problem is you don’t see a person every day. Be prepared to make an extra effort so that the members of your remote team would feel like they’re a part of the whole ship.
After all, team culture values in a distributed team are not created not by a classy workplace with foosball and ping pong during lunch time, social benefits and a high salary. So let’s find out how the hell to build one team culture for the whole team.
Foosball + Benefits + Salary ≠ Team culture
How to understand that your team culture is wrong?
The ideal company culture means achieving goals on time and comfort at work. These are the two leading indicators, which contain many conditions. If people don’t want to work with you, to follow you or at least to talk to you, then you’re doing something wrong.
So here are the main signs of ‘bad’ team culture which can be found both in office companies and in distributed teams. Let’s discuss what consequences these signs can lead if they are not noticed in time.
– Savings on staff
Your staff is the resource which you can’t scrimp. Only the right people should work in the company. If you can fire someone and the company will not suffer, then this person should have been fired a long time ago. Also, any work should be adequately paid, otherwise employees will not be motivated to work well.
But unfortunately, this is one of the most common mistakes that create a chain of follow-up actions leading to essential problems. Many entrepreneurs are focused only on the economic part and believe that the only goal is a financial benefit, and no matter what ways they achieve it.
According to the Fortune Global 500 list, Walmart is the world’s biggest company. It is also the largest employer having more than 2 million workers. But despite its huge size, Walmart is notorious for the low wages it pays its workers. Considering that the minimum wage in the United States is $15 per hour, Walmart pays only $11.
The company justified this policy by the fact that a higher wage requirement will reduce the employees’ needs in government support programs. Of course, this attitude is the reason for rallies and protests, but people continue to work there because the company has the most relaxed requirements for employees.
Obviously, the main goal of any company is to increase the number of customers and profits, but don’t forget that it’s not crisp banknotes who do business – people are.
– I’m the boss!
You can observe such position everywhere from large firms to small enterprises. Often a leader to prove his/her power goes beyond simple human respect. We must remember that not only the subordinate must respect the boss, but vice versa too. After all, bosses aren’t born, they are made.
In July 2018, Bussiness Inside interviewed former Meitu employees. It turned out that the leader using a terrible team culture made everyone avoid the company as an employer and former employees being ashamed of this line in the summary. The Executive Director wanted to prove his dominance on subordinates that he decided to humiliate the dismissed employee in front of the whole company.
He wanted everyone to know that he was the one who fired her and that it would be the case with anyone who will make a mistake. One of the sources of Business Insider, who worked under Fox’s predecessor, Frank Fu, says that the culture in the company is ‘hostile,’ and management is ‘authoritative.’ Would you like to work in such a place?
– Aggressive competition
The system of competition in the company for the authorities sounds like a kind of utopia. Those who work better get more money and the worst get fired or replaced. People don’t relax and work on the limits of their strength to surpass the rest and give the result better than colleagues. Everyone is motivated by the tempo, greed or fear of being fired, but the fact is that people try to work better.
But there is a catch: despite the desire for a better result, people are not interested in working in a team. Instead of working together to achieve the company’s overall goals, they focus solely on their tasks and on doing them better than others.
The implementation of such competition within the team members forces employees to work in the win-lose model when the gain of one side necessarily entails the fail of the second one. In other words, the crew members drown each other forgetting they’re on the same ship.
❌I won – You lose ❌
✅We all won ✅
By the way, at the turn of the 21st century, Microsoft had huge problems in building a team culture. According to Kurt Eichenwald, who interviewed former Microsoft employees, such a system of ‘stack ranking’ has had devastating consequences within the company, which bunch employees left its ranks.
To introduce a share of healthy competition (without fanaticism), use icebreakers. This is a great way to warm up your team before a meeting or a hard week.
What kind of team culture development can we talk about if communication with employees occurs through anger and disrespect? Only respect for each employee can unite the team and form the necessary level of the corporate culture. Otherwise, the turnover of personnel, burnout of employees and deterioration of the company as a whole cannot be avoided.
SpaceX is one of the most famous IT companies, which builds the future. It can be considered as the top of the career ladder, and in which everyone wants to get a job. But recent scandals kindled by SpaceX employees about work in the company led to believe that working for Musk-the-Almighty is not so cool as it seems and maybe it’s not a dream job at all.
The Wired describes the case when Musk saw a broken conveyor, asked a passing engineer, “Did you do this?”. And when the young engineer asked specifying question Musk just freaked out, called him a stupid idiot and ordered to get out and never come back. He also fired employees for perfume or the wrong color shoes, but that’s another story.
People are an essential resource of any organization. But learn to appreciate them not just as a resource, but as a human being like you.
– Bureaucracy is an innovation killer.
We are talking about unhealthy bureaucracy, which is not the engine of the process but inhibits it by increasing the time spent by employees. It is most often the case when an intricate system of reporting, measurement, planning and other documentation is created to strengthen one’s privileged position further. Especially large companies are exposed to this because the more layers there are between people in a company, the more cancerous the bureaucracy becomes.
According to former IBM employees, the bureaucracy in the company ruthlessly pushes talents out of its ranks. There are about 14 levels of management, so most people just get lost in the bureaucracy. Politically profitable decisions are put in the company’s foreground, even if it is obvious that they will fail. And great solutions to problems go unnoticed.
It was also stated that because of bureaucracy, it’s “difficult to get your job done unless you understand all of the processes and procedures” and “most of the documentation they have you do counts for nothing.”
So What to Do?
First, let’s find out how good team culture looks like and why it is so important. It’s not just about tea, cookies, and jokes; it is a potent tool for retaining and rallying employees. The main thing in building team culture in a team (especially if it’s remote) is regular communication, and not only about work.
Here is an exciting video in which Kate Mitchell, founding partner at Scale Venture Partners, describes team culture as a phenomenon. And also, you will find there something curious about Reed Hastings – Netflix CEO!
So how to build a common atmosphere and team spirit if all employees are so different? Of course, every person needs an individual approach, but the ship will run aground if each crew member rows in different directions.
You must set a common goal to unite the crew, the course to which each crew member will strive, albeit each in their way. The result of the work of the whole team depends on the correct setting of goals for employees. And you, as a leader, will have to spend a lot of time planning, prioritizing and organizing the work of your team for a short, medium or long terms. Members’ achievement is a measure of team success; that’s why it is so important to make your team-oriented on a common goal.
For tracking your common goals you can use Standuply Bot. Just add it to your Slack, attach your data requests in Standuply from third-party service used by your team and voila! The bot captures and organizes the data for your team in Slack into the channel you specify.
It’s a paradox, but if you want to build a successful team culture in your remote team, you need to trust remote employees much more than the team that sits with you in one open space.
Trust is a must-have for building a company culture. If there is no trust, there are strict rules and processes which are not effective, if you want to assemble a team of not only professionals but also good people. But the rules are not necessary if people want to work with you.
First, we have already told about this, but let’s say again: you do not need such an employee, which needs to be controlled continuously. You need employees who want to work, study and understand the area of their responsibility.
You have to believe in the professionalism and strength of your employee. After all, you hired a person, so let him/her do the job. If you constantly worry and control the quality of your remote employee’s work, you will spend all your energy controlling people before you know it.
Guide a person on the right path of professional growth, become a teacher and let your Padawans learn from their mistakes. Give the employee freedom of action in a professional field, and you will be surprised how well people can work if they are not under pressure.
“And teamwork is dependent on trusting the other folks to come through with their part without watching them all the time but trusting that they’re gonna come through with their parts.” – Steve Jobs
Remember: the future of your company depends on the newcomers and how you train them. Helping newcomer joining the team is a whole science, even in an ordinary company with an office, not to mention remote. First, it is critical to the training of newbies.
When a newbie comes to the company, he, as a new Padawan, is beginning to train by an experienced Jedi. Whatever you do, you can not neglect the training and think like ‘he’ll deal with that, he’s not a child.’ A way to learn to swim when you’re thrown overboard without a lifeline should be a thing of the past because there is a possibility not to swim out on your own. Help the new employee in every endeavor and direct to the right path, become a teacher for him.
But the team is not only the employee and the chief. A newbie should practice communication with all the members of the company because sooner or later he/she will have to interact with every department in the company including Devs, Support, etc. Employees’ training is not only ‘listen and try,’ but it is also the training of communication, independent decision-making, opinions discussion, analysis and structuring of information.
If you’re running a remote team here’s the conference for you: Running Remote Conference 2019. It’s the largest event for practical advice from leaders who build and manage remote teams. Use the promo code standuply to get 20% off.
All for one and one for all
In a team, there can be no position like ‘you’re on your own’. In addition to training from the immediate chief, it is necessary to develop trust, which indispensably in critical situations. In crisis times, it is much more important than ever to know that someone’s always got your back and you will not be left alone with your problems. That’s what the team is for and this is one of the benefits of team culture.
Excuses like ‘I’m too busy, I have other tasks’ or ‘not enough time, will see later’ tell about the disunity of the team, while all should be for one and one for all. The lack of mutual support is the first step to the destruction of team cohesion as it allows team members to attribute the behavior of each other any, even the most ridiculous motives and think out the reasons for such behavior themselves.
We have such a policy that each person chooses their work priorities. In such a way, we develop our employees’ independence, but if someone asks for help, we are always there to provide it. We teach our newbies everything we know, but we don’t tie their hands. We let them improvise and just helping not to stray from the common course.
Equal access to information
Transparency is one of the fundamental aspects of the culture in a remote team. You eliminate the most common cause of distributed team failures by giving everyone equal access to information. Remote workers shouldn’t feel like second-class people in your company just because they don’t get the same access to offline information as office employees.
It creates the effect that the company’s life flows past them, and they’re just freelancers, not employees. Share videos of your meetingswith them, discuss ideas on collective phone calls or just send them the photos of you and your office pals working!
We use Google Drive, for any information to be always available to all departments. And Slack allows us to store corporate data in one place being available to each employee. We have a channel in Slack called #standuply_talking for such information updates. It could be product releases, reports for the last month that we get with our Standuply bot, information about new employees or something about changes in corporate rules.
By the way, you can use Standuply’s team perfomances for keeping all the analytic information in shared access. As you did with goals tracking, just choose your third-party service and connect it to Standuply and a data request captures information.
Keep transparency in your team! Add Standuply to Slack today.
To sum up
Common Goals + Trust + Support = Team culture
Fortunately, today more and more companies began to attach significant importance to the remote team and pay attention to building a team culture. Many of them have managed to improve performance and achieve their goals, whether their team members are scattered around the office, city, country, or the world.
“If you wanna hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise, good people don’t stay.” – Steve Jobs
Based on Standuply experience, we saw that this does not require some future technologies or breakout in management. Make it clear to your team members that they are significant links in the same chain, not just resources and statistics. Motivate them, help them grow, develop their ambitions and discover new talents. It all starts with an accurate goal setting, honest assessment of the way to it and firm confidence in achieving it. And the only way to achieve it is to work in a strong team, where there are trust and support.
P.S. Check out our informative guide How to Put Agile Processes on Autopilot.