Skip to main content
  1. Learn center
  2. Collaboration
  3. Posts
  4. How to build a strong team culture — and why you need one

How to build a strong team culture — and why you need one

Guest Post

Guest Post

April 26, 2024

Team culture is the glue that holds the team together, the fuel that drives their performance, and the compass that guides their decision-making. Without it, you simply have a group of people who may have a common goal but lack the cohesion, coordination, collaboration, and communication that allow them to achieve it.

If your organization wants to establish a team culture that lasts, this guide is for you. We’ve explored the meaning, importance, and types of team culture, and the steps to build and maintain it.

What does team culture mean?

Team culture is the collective personality of a team, shaped by its history, leadership, and members. It’s the manner in which they engage with one another, exchange information, and work together, as well as the unspoken regulations that guide their conduct.

A strong team culture can foster trust, creativity, and resilience, while a weak or toxic culture can breed conflict, apathy, and turnover.

Why team culture is important

In today’s fast-paced, complex, and uncertain world, team culture is more important than ever. It’s not just about making sales or achieving goals. It’s also about creating a sense of belonging, purpose, and growth for every team member. 

A strong team culture can help companies adapt to change, overcome adversity, and innovate new solutions, while a weak or toxic culture can hinder team performance and overall well-being.

Team culture vs. company culture

While team culture and company culture are related and can influence each other, they are distinct and need to be managed separately:

Company culture

Company culture is an organization’s overall personality. It’s shaped by its mission, vision, values, and policies. 

Team culture 

Team culture is the specific personality of a team within that organization, shaped by its goals, roles, and dynamics. 

Signs your team needs a stronger team culture

If your team is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to focus on building a stronger team culture:

1. High turnover or absenteeism

A high turnover rate or frequent absenteeism may be signs that your team is not engaged or satisfied with the team culture. The cost of replacing an employee is between 0.5x and twice that employee’s annual salary. 

2. Low morale or engagement

If your team members seem disengaged, unmotivated, or unhappy, it may be a warning sign that the team culture is not meeting their needs or expectations. This may be the result of a vision, purpose, or values that fail to resonate with team members. 

3. Poor communication or collaboration

Are your team members struggling to communicate or collaborate effectively? A communication breakdown may be an indication that the team culture is not conducive to open and honest communication. They may feel distrustful, disrespected, or psychologically unsafe. 

4. Conflicts or cliques

When team members are frequently in conflict or form cliques, this may point to a team culture that is not inclusive or respectful. This scenario is common in companies that lack diversity, equity, inclusion, or shared values and norms. 

5. Lack of innovation or progress

Sometimes, team members may struggle to generate new ideas or progress toward their goals. This may be a hint that the team culture is not conducive to creativity and innovation. Once again, this occurs when employees feel distrusted and distrustful, psychologically unsafe, and unable to take creative risks. 

9 types of team culture

There are many ways to categorize team culture, but here are nine common types, along with their pros and cons:

1. Clan culture

A horizontally-organized, family-like culture that values loyalty, tradition, and consensus. 

  • Pros: strong bonds, trust, and support. 
  • Cons: resistance to change, lack of diversity, and stagnation.

2. Adhocracy culture

A dynamic culture that values innovation, risk-taking, and experimentation. 

  • Pros: creativity, agility, and adaptability. 
  • Cons: chaos, uncertainty, and burnout.

3. Market culture

A competitive culture that values results, efficiency, and accountability. 

  • Pros: focus, discipline, and performance. 
  • Cons: pressure, stress, and burnout.

4. Hierarchical culture

A formal, vertically-organized culture that values order, structure, and stability. 

  • Pros: clarity, predictability, and control. 
  • Cons: bureaucracy, micromanagement, rigidity, and complacency.

5. Learning culture

A growth-oriented culture that values learning, feedback, and improvement

  • Pros: development, innovation, and resilience. 
  • Cons: vulnerability, ambiguity, and discomfort.

6. Caring culture

A supportive culture that values empathy, compassion, and well-being. 

  • Pros: connection, trust, and loyalty. 
  • Cons: emotional intensity, dependency, and slow pace.

7. Fun culture

A playful culture that values humor, joy, and celebration. 

  • Pros: motivation, morale, and creativity. 
  • Cons: distraction, frivolity, and superficiality.

8. Purpose culture

A meaningful culture that values mission, vision, and values. 

  • Pros: motivation, engagement, and impact. 
  • Cons: idealism, perfectionism, and burnout.

9. Diversity culture

A culture that welcomes everyone and appreciates differences in background, experience, and thought while ensuring fairness and equal opportunities for all.

  • Pros: innovation, creativity, and adaptability. 
  • Cons: conflict, misunderstanding, and complexity.

Quick checklist to select which fits your team

It’s important to note that team culture is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires ongoing effort and adaptation to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. 

With the following factors in mind, you can choose the type of team culture that fits your team’s unique needs and context:

Your team’s purpose and goals

Understand your team’s vision, mission, and objectives. This will help you determine the type of culture that aligns with your team’s purpose and goals. 

Your team’s strengths and weaknesses

Explore the weaknesses and strengths of your team members. This will help you identify the type of culture that will leverage their strengths and address their weaknesses. 

Your team’s values and beliefs

Reflect on the values and beliefs that are important to your team members. This will help you create a culture that resonates with their personal and professional values. 

Your team’s context and environment

Consider the external factors that influence your team’s culture. These include organizational culture, industry trends, and market conditions. 

Your mindset before starting

By embodying certain qualities in your approach to building team culture, you set a positive example for your team and create a supportive atmosphere where team members feel valued, heard, and empowered:

Be open and receptive to feedback and change

Embracing feedback from team members and being open to change is crucial for fostering a culture of ongoing improvement. Constructive feedback provides practical insights into what works well and needs adjustment. 

Be patient and persistent in your efforts

Building a solid team culture takes time and effort. It requires patience to navigate challenges and setbacks along the way. Persistence is essential to staying focused on your goals and consistently working towards creating a positive and inclusive team environment. 

Be authentic and genuine in your actions

Authenticity is indispensable for building credibility and trust within your team. Being genuine in your interactions and decisions fosters a sense of transparency and integrity. 

Be flexible and adaptable in your approach

Adaptability and flexibility are pivotal tools for navigating the complexities of team dynamics and evolving circumstances. Being able to adjust your approach based on feedback, changing priorities, and unforeseen challenges allows you to respond effectively to the needs of your team. 

7 steps for growing team culture

Here are seven steps to grow your team culture organically together:

1. Define your team’s purpose and values

Make sure everyone understands why your team exists and what it stands for. When employees feel their work is consistent with organizational values, they are 50% more likely to enjoy a positive work experience.

2. Clarify your team’s responsibilities and roles

Make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them and how they contribute to the team’s success. 

3. Encourage open and honest communication

Make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

4. Facilitate collaboration and teamwork

Make sure everyone works together towards common goals and shares their knowledge and skills. Online collaboration tools like virtual whiteboards, chat apps, and project management software can be game changers in this area.

5. Provide opportunities for growth and development

Make sure everyone has the chance to learn, improve, and advance in their careers.

6. Celebrate successes and achievements

Make sure everyone feels proud and appreciated for their contributions and accomplishments.

7. Review and adjust your team culture regularly

Make sure your team culture stays relevant, effective, and positive over time.

Troubleshooting team member push-back

Experts in team management agree that trying to suppress push-back doesn’t work. If you encounter any resistance or push-back from team members, try the following strategies:

Listen to their concerns and feedback 

Hear out your team members’ concerns without judgment. This will help you address their needs and interests and involve them in the decision-making process.

Address their needs and interests

Once you understand their concerns and feedback, address their needs and interests. This might involve making changes to the team culture or finding ways to accommodate their concerns.

Involve them in the decision-making process

Involving your team members in the decision-making process can help them feel more invested in the team culture. Companies with a strong collaborative culture enjoy a 22% higher revenue growth than those without them.

Provide evidence and examples of the benefits of team culture

It’s important to communicate the benefits of team culture to your team members. Provide evidence and examples of how team culture can improve team performance, morale, and engagement.

Seek support and advice from other leaders or experts

If you’re having trouble addressing resistance or push-back, seek support and advice from other leaders or experts. They might have experience dealing with similar situations and can provide pointers on how to handle them.

How to measure the impact / ROI

Measuring the effect or return on investment (ROI) of enhanced team culture is crucial for organizations to understand the value of their investments in building and maintaining a positive team culture. To calculate the ROI of team culture, organizations can use a variety of methods, such as employee surveys, performance metrics, and financial data. Here are some metrics to consider:

Employee engagement and satisfaction

How engaged and satisfied are your employees with their work and the team culture? According to one study by the University of Warwick, happy employees are between 12% and 20% more productive than unhappy ones.

Team productivity and performance

Is your team able to work together effectively to achieve their goals? High levels of productivity and performance can lead to increased revenue and profitability.

Customer satisfaction and loyalty

How satisfied are customers with the team’s products or services, and how likely are they to continue doing business with the team? Elevated levels of customer satisfaction (and loyalty) lead to increased revenue and profitability.

Employee retention and turnover

How long do employees stay with the team, and how often do they leave? High levels of retention and low turnover can lead to lower costs associated with recruiting and training new employees.

Cost savings and revenue growth

Are you noticing the financial benefits of building a positive team culture? Look at factors such as costs associated with turnover and productivity levels, as well as overall revenue and profitability.

Inspiring quotes on team spirit

Over the course of history, plenty of leaders have been inspirational in how they’ve built and maintained team spirit. Napoleon famously escaped his exile on the island of Elba by rallying his troops and swelling their numbers as he returned to France. It’s said that he spent his time on the island playing Solitaire, which kept his mind sharp—or certainly sharp enough to inspire an army to fight for his cause!

If you want to energize and inspire your team (without having to lead them into battle), these quotes on team spirit are an excellent way to get them motivated: 

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard

Final thoughts

Building a strong team culture is not a one-off event. It’s an ongoing process of growth and development. By understanding the meaning, importance, and types of team culture and following the steps and strategies laid out in this guide, you will create a long-term winning team that thrives on trust, creativity, and resilience.

Author bio

 Jamie is a skilled marketing strategist and business writer. She crafts compelling content and insightful perspectives designed to fuel business growth while fostering a collaborative environment that empowers team members to excel.



Subscribe to our newsletter

Learn with Nulab to bring your best ideas to life