If a team’s culture is the reality of what goes on, team climate is people’s perception of it.
Burke and Litwin (1992) suggested that team climate is defined massively by how the team is managed. In other words, you really can’t afford to underestimate the impact of everything you do (or don’t do) as a manager.
Here are four things you can do to create a healthy, productive and great team climate:
1.Ensure each team member is clear on their and their colleague’s priorities: Don’t assume everyone is aware of what exactly are the most important aspects of their role, let alone what their colleague’s most important priorities are.
Clearly identify the top three priorities for each person, including you, is the first step. Second is getting each individual to tell you their understanding of their priorities. This second step is often overlooked, when I’ve ask managers. Yet, checking that each person is on the same page as you is key.
And finally, taking all of these priorities and putting them in different formats in shared spaces. For example, big posters on walls in the office; infographics shared on a team blog; and team members talking about the progress of their priorities at team meetings.
2.Make time and space for people to really get to know each other: I’ve said this many times in many posts. You can’t underestimate the importance and power of team members getting to know each other outside of work.
I understand there will be different levels of comfort with this, with some team members (maybe even you) having a clear demarcation between ‘work’ and ‘outside work’. The key is to put in place a range of things over the course of each year that take on people’s diverse needs, likes and dislikes. Having a forward plan of activity is a great way to keep you on track but also shows your team the importance you place on this.
It’s important you show due diligence and concern for each individuals circumstances, i.e. those with caring commitments who might not be able to do certain days, those whose religion prohibit them from engaging in drinking alcohol etc.
For example, you can have a mix of formal (team building in a neutral venue) and informal (team bowling night). Keep things simple.
3.Work with the team to create an agreed set of values and ways of working: When we’re called in to work with managers whose teams are in conflict and/or under-performing, one of the first things we do is to find out if there is a clear vision, mission and values for the team.
Those teams who have these tend to be in a better place and be fairly effective.
Those teams where the team members have worked with the manager to develop values and ways of working tend to do even better. They are high-performing.
In other words, don’t make the mistake of some managers and think this stuff isn’t important. And don’t make the mistake of locking yourself away with your laptop and coming up with values and ways of working yourself.
Collaborating and co-designing these foundation stones is the way to high-performance.
4.Lead by example and roll your sleeves up: Having some form of 360-degree feedback is the surest way to find out if your team think you lead by example and get stuck in when they’re up against it.
Without this information, you could be operating with a blind spot.
In addition to 360, is getting a deep understanding of what matters to you most in a work context. This is about fleshing out your own personal values for the workplace. Then it’s about sharing these with your team. This then gives them a clear sense of what you stand for and also a marker for assessing your leadership of the team.
What are the ways you’ve built a healthy and happy team climate? Why not share your experience and advice in the comments section so that other managers can benefit?
Hayley Lewis is a business psychologist and founder of HALO Psychology, a consultancy helping public sector managers overcome difficult problems around performance and people. HALO offers a variety of services including coaching, facilitation and training. Contact us to see how we can help you take your team to high performance.