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What is a team-oriented business culture, and why is it important?

Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

August 26, 2020

Even if your team gets along most of the time, there’s more to having a team-oriented culture than free-flowing Friday drinks and hilarious GIFs on the office chat app. If your organization wants to focus on deepening and prioritizing its sense of teamwork, here’s what you need to know.

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, team-oriented work cultures value people working effectively together 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 well-being 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 similarities with a bottom-up management style: 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 the Queen’s University of Charlotte, 53% of millennials prefer a closer, mentoring-style relationship with their manager. This number will also rise as this age group in the workplace is expected to reach 75% by 2025. 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 can also shine through. It’s important to moderate the more dominant personalities, especially 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 and inadequate technology that hinders communication and collaboration. We’ll go into this a little further on.

How to promote a team-oriented business culture

Training and workshops

Some people are naturally team-oriented. While others require a little more guidance to bring these qualities out in them.

Training and mentoring can nurture these skills in team members and managers. These initiatives should show teams the importance of working together and provide concrete steps they can take to improve. Events can be short and sweet, like scheduling an afternoon speaker, or they can be more intensive, like a retreat or week-long training course.

Encourage group projects

Practice makes perfect. The more teams work together on projects, the better they will get at understanding one another’s needs and styles of working.

Working more closely will also help individuals understand the value of their teammates, as they are better able to see their contributions on a daily basis. Managers can help solidify the benefits of more teamwork by celebrating successes that the team accomplishes as a whole.

Invest in diversity training

The most successful teams value diversity. They understand each person brings something unique to the table — whether that’s an approach, a way of working, or a point of view — and they want to nurture and support those differences. Diversity training workshops can help employees see these differences as a positive rather than a problem. They can cover a range of helpful topics, from overcoming cultural barriers to stereotypes and communication styles.

Avoid hierarchies

Teamwork and leadership should stand side-by-side; 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 must abandon top-down management styles entirely (such as with a matrix organization). However, 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 about communication and consistency rather than dishing out orders and deadlines.

Trust people

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 to do their work, nurturing their skills, and making yourself as approachable as possible. Let your team members make their own choices while avoiding micromanaging. (You can still use project management software to keep track of tasks and projects from afar).

Embrace apps and tools

Teamwork and communication go hand-in-hand. Online collaboration tools like chat apps, project management software, and virtual whiteboards can help managers stay up-to-date while empowering employees to take ownership of their work. They are also perfect 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. You can help them make work more enjoyable, and a team-oriented way of working will soon follow.



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