For many of the clients Leading Teams works with, a move towards becoming a high performing team necessitates a shift in organisational culture to support it. But cultural change won’t come about by itself. So how do you make it happen?
The answer lies with the key centres of influence in your particular team. These are the people, with or without title, who influence others. Who are they in your organisation? If you are looking to drive a change in culture, your centres of influence need to be identified and, importantly, they need to be on board. Not sitting at the back of the bus, but right up front, driving the change. These key people must recognise the need for change and be prepared and willing to own and drive positive change; to fully commit to it.
To understand where you want or need to get to as a team, you need to know where you are right now. An honest and transparent audit of the behaviours in your team / organisation will give you the foundation and insight required to start your journey.
Cultural change requires an absolute preparedness, willingness and appetite for ongoing improvement – as individuals and as a collective. It is built and will thrive by creating a clear behavioural framework, forging strong professional relationships and having genuine conversations around performance.
You will need to explore what a high performing culture means for your team. What behaviours do you currently accept or tolerate that you know you shouldn’t? Are you or team members currently behaving in a way that is counterproductive? Once you have agreed the important behaviours for your team you collectively have to live and enforce them.
It is also important to reframe team or organisational challenges and to view them as an opportunity to improve. When striving for culture change, assessing the strength of interpersonal relationships and establishing a process for ongoing review for both individuals and the team is also paramount.
Developing and earning trust is arguably the most crucial ingredient in the creation of high performing culture. Trust is a delicate creature; it can take time to develop and can be taken away very quickly.
Trust is evident when team members feel empowered to speak about concerns, challenges or opportunities facing them or the wider team in good faith and without fear of retribution. Individuals will feel responsible for owning and living the high performing culture they have helped create.
Teams which have experienced a positive cultural change will feel the shift from the previous ‘norms’ to the new agreed standards of behaviour over a period of time.
Review and improve
Once your key centres of influence, decision makers or leaders have come to the realisation that a culture shift is required – and they are prepared to drive and commit to it – then the process has begun. Commit fully to the change and reward, challenge and model the behaviours you want to see.
Cultural change is a rolling, evolving process; the highest performing teams are never 100% satisfied, they can always see room for improvement. And this is what makes them a high performing team, whether that be in elite sport, the corporate or the business world. They know they must consistently review their progress, strengthen and repair relationships and discuss opportunities for individual and team development.