Team culture is one of those things that is always there, whether you believe in it or not. The moment a group of people starts working together with a certain frequency they will come up with some type of un-written rules, habits or rituals. It doesn’t matter if you want it or not, if you manage it or not, if you write it down or not: team culture is always there.
You can define team culture as a bunch of little things that put together give your team distinct personality traits, characteristics that make them stand out from other teams. Things along the lines of how you deal with failure or celebrate success, how you evaluate individual and team performance or work habits that gradually form.
Most leaders struggle to manage their culture. You can try to control it, twist it and bend it or even look the other way. But the reality is that it will always be exactly what it’s meant to be.
The problem of not getting a grip on your team culture is that sub-cultures arise and create friction within your team. Different types of internal struggles, whether personal or professional, that start eating away at team happiness at first and team performance in the long run. These frictions can easily spin out of control.
As a leader you will never get team cultures that reflect 100% of what you want them to be. But you can work on the team basics. Three simple points that steer the team in the right direction:
Once you have the team basics in place the culture will follow. It will grow and take a life of its own. Team members will come and go, but the culture will continue to grow. Some people will understand it and others won’t. And that’s ok...
In many ways team culture is like a joke. If you have to explain it to someone, it’s probably not for them.
In short, why is team culture important? Simply stated, a good team culture is the foundation for a very good team.