Do you want a team that simply meets expected goals, or do you want a team that drives innovation and fuels growth? The right team culture moves your group from one that simply gets the job done to one that turns heads with its creativity and contribution to the company's mission. A culture of fear pushes productivity, but it takes a courage-based culture to inspire your team to be their best.
1. Clarify Your Goals
Improving your team culture is easier when you understand your motivation and personal goals. Schedule a time to sit down and reflect on your own personal desire to work from a place of courage instead of fear. What is your vision for your team? How do you fit into that picture? Writing out your thoughts and goals helps you to translate your ideas into an action plan to benefit your team.
2. Share Your Passion for Your Mission
After you have a clear picture of your team's place in furthering your organization's mission, make sure everyone on your team also sees the big picture. Employees work harder when they understand the purpose of their tasks. A passionate team culture with everyone working for a reason leaves little room for fear to hamper creativity.
3. Dare to Be Imperfect
As team leader, it's easy to hide your mistakes. Unfortunately, if your team thinks you're perfect, they are unlikely to take risks that could show their own imperfections. Improve your team culture by openly sharing your own mistakes, both past and present. Mix anecdotes about how you took a risk and failed in with similar success stories to encourage your employees to take their own calculated risks for the benefit of everyone.
Listening well shows respect. When employees come to you with their ideas or concerns, give them your full attention, asking appropriate questions to understand their thoughts as well as any fears limiting their growth. When you really see your team members, you are better able to support them in overcoming fears and discovering strengths.
5. Support Failure
Most leaders make an effort to offer praise when employees succeed, but it is just as important to offer your support after failures. Praise employees for taking risks and help them see how they can learn from the situation. When employees feel that it is safe to fail, they are more likely to lead innovation and give projects everything they have instead of just putting in the minimum effort to meet basic team goals.
6. Encourage Debate
Remember that the best ideas often follow rigorous debate. Encourage your team members to challenge ideas, offering their own visions for how your team can better meet its goals. When everyone feels safe to speak up, more ideas are available to reduce limitations and improve your company's success. Promote this type of exchange by openly soliciting opinions from those most different from yourself, actively moving your team culture further away from a place of fear.
Start improving your team culture by overcoming fears that limit your own growth. Then, systematically work on your listening skills, support failures as well as successes and encourage healthy debate to create a team culture that values innovation and growth just as much as meeting productivity goals.
Photo courtesy of Robert McLeroy at Flickr.com