Every manager likes to think of their team as being a big, happy unit. After all, everyone gets along well and is collaborative most of the time. But the thing is, there’s more to having a team-oriented culture than Friday drinks and good banter on the office chat app: It’s more complex than you might think. It’s an interplay between leadership, teamwork, and communication, and how successful your team is depends on how well each of these play out.
It’s also about recognizing the strengths and qualities of a team player and nurturing them while encouraging collaboration and communication between everyone as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at how to create a team-oriented business culture.
What is a ‘team-oriented culture’
Being team-oriented is about working well with others. And ‘workplace culture’ (also known as ‘organizational culture’) refers to a set of values and behaviors that define the business and its way of being and operating. When you put the two together, you have a workplace that values how people work together collectively over anything else. This reaches into every element of the business — from the hiring process, all the way through to management values and behaviors.
What’s the difference between team-oriented and task-oriented?
Being team-oriented as an individual is a soft skill. It’s about working well with people, and, as a manager, this translates into focusing on motivation and wellbeing as opposed to completing tasks and deadlines.
If you’re a team-oriented manager, you still care about tasks, but you put your energy into helping people achieve those goals from a more human perspective. To give you an idea of the differences between the two, a team-oriented manager might ask an employee how they’re feeling and whether they feel confident with their workload, whereas a task-oriented manager will ask when they can expect the work to be delivered.
Team-oriented leadership shares some similarities with a bottom-up style of management: leaders and team members are considered more equal. This contrasts with a top-down style of management, which is more about hierarchies.
Millennials and Gen-Z prefer a bottom-up style of leadership. And, according to Queens University of Charlotte, 53% of millennials would prefer to have a closer, mentoring-style relationship with their manager. This is a number that’s rising: this age-group in the workplace is expected to reach 75% by 2025. Having a workplace that appeals to a growing number of people means happier staff and higher retention, not to mention a leg up when it comes to attracting top talent.
Barriers to a team-oriented business culture
Competitive and entrepreneurial characters can be great for a team, but only if the quieter voices are allowed to shine through. It’s also important to moderate the more dominant personalities when dealing with negative competition. Unaddressed conflict can erode team culture, so it’s important to address these issues early on through intervention and coaching.
Other barriers include communication breakdowns between different types of people — as well as inadequate technology that hinders communication and collaboration. We’ll go into this a little more further on.
How to promote a team-oriented business culture
Training and workshops
Some people are naturally team-oriented. With others, it takes a little more guidance to bring these qualities out in them.
Training and mentoring can nurture these skills in team members and managers. These events should show teams the importance of working together, as well as how to achieve that. They can take place over the course of an afternoon, or be a bigger event, like a retreat or week-long training course.
Encourage group projects
Practice makes perfect. Encouraging the team to work together on projects will get them used to collaborating with a shared sense of purpose. It’s important each individual understands the value their teammates bring to the project, and that diversity is a strength. When it comes to celebrating successes, as a manager it’s your job to ensure you hand out praise to the team as a whole, rather than to individuals.
Invest in diversity training
The most successful teams value different personality types and skillsets. They understand each one brings something unique to the table — whether that’s an approach, a way of working, or a point of view — and nurture and support that difference. Diversity training workshops help employees understand that these differences are a positive, rather than a problem. They can focus on a range of things, from overcoming cultural barriers, to stereotypes and communication styles.
Teamwork and leadership should stand side-by-side, and promoting one doesn’t mean losing the other. There’s an overlap between having a bottom-up management style and a team-oriented business culture. Having the latter doesn’t mean you need to abandon top-down management styles entirely, but avoiding hierarchies where possible will help make your business more team-focused. Managers should be happy to let others step forward and make their voices heard while focusing on supporting the team. Maintaining respect is more to do with communication and consistency, rather than dishing out orders and deadlines.
If you’re used to top-down working, trusting others to take the reins can be terrifying. But a big part of having a team-oriented business culture is trusting others, nurturing their skills, and making yourself as approachable as possible. Let your team members make their own choices while avoiding micromanaging. Project management software can help managers keep track of tasks and projects while remaining hands-off (AKA not sending out millions of emails and status report requests).
Embrace apps and tools
Teamwork and communication go hand-in-hand. Online collaboration tools like chat apps and project management software can help managers stay in control and up-to-date, while automation handles repetitive tasks leaving leaders with more time to focus on employee motivation and wellbeing. These are also perfect for when face-to-face communication isn’t an option — something that’s becoming increasingly common as more businesses embrace the benefits of remote work.
Invest in tools that help employees communicate and collaborate from wherever they are, in a way they enjoy, and a team-oriented way of working will soon follow.