Without trust, there is no foundation to build on. Trust is both the foundation of and a main pillar of positive team culture because the other pillars listed below cannot uphold positive team culture without trust. Most research points to trust as being the core of positive leadership. Trustful leaders have been shown to build teams of ethical employees and have reduced employee turnover. If your team doesn’t trust you, or they don’t trust each other, collaboration, productivity, and innovation will suffer. Building trust with your team in hopes of creating a positive team culture will require consistency, communication, and inclusivity.
Speaking and acting consistently instills trust in those around you. Therefore, leaders and team members who behave consistently will aid in developing positive team culture. Consistency also includes abiding by the organization’s policies and procedures, as well as holding team members accountable to these policies and procedures, deadlines, and other commitments. If leaders do not treat all team members consistently and equally, trust will not be built as team members may begin to question leaders’ motives. Leaders must remain mindful of their actions and words in order to remain consistent enough to build positive team culture.
The words you use must be consistent with who you are and how you treat others. Your communication needs to be purposeful and transparent. Communicating without thinking or while emotional can dissolve trust and instill insecurity. Leaders must aim to use communication as a tool to help their team grow, whether that be rallying them around the organization’s goals, holding them accountable, providing constructive and positive feedback, or simply getting to know each other. Additionally, transparency in communication is imperative. If necessary, leaders can confirm their communication is understood by asking employees to repeat back their understanding of the conversation.
While conversations of diversity are heavily focused around gender and race, there is so much more that makes us diverse, which means there is so much more to be inclusive of. Building a positive team culture means creating a space where your team feels safe to contribute their authentic selves to the betterment and advancement of the organization. When employees feel they are valued and appreciated for not only their work but for what they uniquely contribute, your organization will see lower turnover, higher productivity, better innovation, and increased creativity. If you take care of your team and allow them to feel comfortable in their own skin, they will take care of you and your organization to the best of their ability.
Culture is often considered the “vibe” of an organization. While it’s true that culture is people, culture doesn’t need to change when the people change. Culture is built and maintained through the people, and by focusing your culture on trust, consistency, communication, and inclusion, to start, leaders can ensure this culture remains consistent even when people leave. The key to building a positive team culture is demonstrating these pillars for your team on a daily basis and encouraging them to do the same. Doing this allows each individual team member to uphold and contribute to the positive team culture in their own, authentic way.
Mary Smith is an associate consultant with IA Business Advisors and is a Kolbe Certified Consultant. She has a bachelor’s in English literature and minored in psychology at the University of Redlands; she is currently working towards her master’s in organizational leadership. Her and her father, Dr. Brian Smith, developed The I in Team Series to help leaders find, be, and build their positive influence. The newest title in the series is Individual Advantages: Be the “I” in Team. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn.