Team Culture Assessment: A Simple Tool to Build High-Performing Teams
Identify The Most Important Priorities For Building A High-Performance Team Culture
What is Team Culture?
Our favorite definition of culture comes from Seth Godin: “People like us do things like this.” So, the easiest way to think about your team culture is simply: how we do things around here.
Not aspirationally, but in reality.
It’s how your values show up in everyday actions. Particularly when under stress or times of uncertainty and change.
For example, if you have a high integrity team culture, your team can count on one another to speak the truth and follow-through on commitments.
People like us do what we say.
Or, perhaps you have a highly innovative team culture.
People like us are micro-innovators, problem solvers, and customer advocates.
Or maybe you’re building a high-energy culture
People like us work with urgency and challenge one another to get things done.
What is Your Team Culture? (A Simple Exercise)
One fun way to think about your current and aspirational team culture is to ask each team member to
draw two pictures:
One of the team culture as it exists today, and one as they would like it to be.
Then, ask each team member to share their pictures and describe the values they represent. And, then talk about the themes. For some reason, a fresh pack of crayons makes it easier to talk about the tough stuff.
“Around here we’re a safe silence culture,”
but I wish we could say,
“people like us speak the truth.”
Of course, we’re still scratching our heads about the time the scientist drew his aspirational culture picture of a slime mold.
But, the team seemed to get it, and everyone was all in to build a great team culture.
A Culture Assessment
We’ve created a very simple team culture assessment to help you think about your culture and to prioritize opportunities for focused improvement. It centers around five foundational areas: clarity, capacity, commitment, curiosity, and connection.
Clarity: We know where we’re going and how we will get there
If your team has high-clarity, you have clearly identified the most important strategic priorities at every level. Your team knows what’s most important, and why. Team initiatives align with those priorities.
Capacity: We invest in building our people, systems, and tools
If your team is doing well in the capacity arena, they do a great job of building confidence and competence in every team member and ensuring they have the tools and resources to succeed.
Training and development are priorities at every level.
Commitment: We keep our promises
This is all about accountability and follow-through. How does your team do in setting clear expectations and holding one another accountable to those expectations?
Doing well in the commitment arena also means people can “ditch the diaper genie” and talk about the tough stuff.
Curiosity: We ask great questions and take appropriate risks
Curious teams come to work asking “how can we?” “How can we make this better?” “How can we improve?”
Teams that are strong in the curiosity arena, ask courageous questions, proactively seek out new ideas, and respond with regard to the ideas they receive.
If you’re looking to go a bit deeper here, check out our research on courageous cultures and psychological safety or download the first chapter of our book: Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates.
Connection: We trust one another and invest in our mutual success.
If building connection is a strength for your team, your “people like us” focus is about fostering deep caring and connection, up, down, and sideways. People collaborate, and recognize and celebrate one another and their wins.
How to Use This Team Culture Assessment
You don’t have to get overly fancy to use this tool.
If you’re working in a virtual team environment, simply email it out. Ask everyone to give a quick assessment in each category. Send it back to you. Compile the themes. Share on your next zoom call. And talk about the so what.
Or even easier. Have everyone complete the team culture assessment and then hop into your next virtual meeting and do a “thumbs up, thumbs down, or neutral for each category.
Of course, the magic lies in the “so what” do we do now.
How do we want, “people like us” to behave, and why does it matter?
And learn more about how we can help you build a better team culture in our live-online leadership development programs.