We spend a huge proportion of our lives at work, surrounded by colleagues, clients, managers, and team members. We’re immersed in the culture of our workplaces. And if we’re a good ‘culture fit’, this can feel great. We’re empowered, challenged, and supported.
Working somewhere with a great culture allows me to perform at my best. So as a leader, I want all of my team members to feel the same way. I want to create a culture where we’re all pulling together, supporting each other, and building something incredible.
In TeamHRhub, we call this a culture of unity.
This kind of inclusive, team-based culture creates an enjoyable working experience and a healthy workplace. People who see themselves as an integral part of a team are happier and feel more fulfilled in their work.
A culture of unity also makes it easier for team members to open up about their struggles, enabling you to offer the help and support they need. This is important for both their physical health and their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Creating a culture of unity isn’t just about making people happier — it’s also a great business decision. This type of environment is inclusive and welcoming, attracting high-quality talent with ease. We also see improved staff engagement and retention, leading to better performance and output.
So, how do we create a culture of unity? Here are our 5 tips for lighting that spark…
1. Open communication
The first step is to ensure that your team members feel able to express themselves openly and honestly.
Ask yourself how your team are able to tell you about any worries or concerns they might have, and consider whether you can offer any additional paths of communication. It’s essential that you make yourself available to hear what they want to tell you.
Think about whose voice you hear. Are there any people or groups who don’t seem to step forward? A culture of unity doesn’t just rely on the ‘squeaky wheels’, so look for ways to reach out to quieter team members as well.
As leaders, we also need to think about how we respond to staff concerns. Giving team members space to speak isn’t enough. How are you showing that you’re listening? Take concerns seriously, handle them openly where possible, and give updates on your progress.
Handling today’s problems well is the fastest way to build trust for open conversation tomorrow.
2. Define your company values
The clearer you are about your company’s values, the easier it is for everyone to be guided by those values.
Everyone in your organisation should be able to express your values statement — not because they have been made to memorise it but because it’s a meaningful part of your culture.
Help make this a reality by turning abstract ideas into something more concrete. Talk about your values. Discuss what ideas like integrity, teamwork, or fairness mean to you. How do you recognise them? How can you embody them?
Having a set of values that everyone understands helps make sure that your entire team is on the same page and pulling together to achieve the same goals.
3. Hire according to these values
Everyone in your organisation contributes to your culture, so make sure that your new hires will be bringing the right mindset and values with them.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a variety of voices and different backgrounds. Far from it. We shouldn’t allow our culture of unity to become a hotbed for groupthink. Our aim is to hire diverse voices who all support our overall goal.
Avoid discrimination by hiring for culture growth rather than culture fit. Rather than asking whether someone will fit easily into your team (which can promote ‘like me’ hiring and reinforce stereotypes), give candidates the chance to show what they will add to your culture.
Discuss your values with prospective new hires. Ask questions about how they understand your mission and find out where they see room for growth. The best candidates will engage with these ideas and want to be an active part of creating a great workplace culture.
4. Put the spotlight on employee success
A great team celebrates together.
A good manager highlights the ways in which individuals have contributed to the success of projects and uses those moments to reinforce team values and unity.
Be liberal in your praise when things are going well. Talk about how their success empowers the rest of the team and/or relates to your company’s values.
Remember — the little things really do matter. Make a point of thanking team members for the little things they do every day to facilitate the smooth functioning of the team, such as staying late to finish a task that might otherwise delay a colleague.
And always share your limelight. Praise from senior management or clients doesn’t always filter down to the staff on the ground. Get used to phrases such as “it was a team effort”, “I couldn’t have done it without…”, and “my team really pulled together to get this done”.
5. Assume ownership
It’s important to share our successes, but that doesn’t mean we should also pass the buck with responsibility. When things go wrong, the best thing for team unity is to take responsibility for any errors.
Failure isn’t the time to point fingers and assign blame. It’s a chance to show your team that they can rely on you to protect them and for all of you to learn and grow.
Ownership of mistakes can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Nobody is perfect and instead of viewing a mistake or slip-up as a failure, embrace it as an opportunity for growth.
Taking ownership of any failings gives your employees the psychological safety they need to examine mistakes and learn from them. This encourages them to be more open, honest, and confident.
If you want help in building unity in your team drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0203 627 7048.