At Harmonia, our mission is to "build stronger teams", but what does that actually mean? One important aspect is helping to develop a strong, positive culture within the team. Let's spend a few minutes looking at what culture is, why it's important, and then a few things that you can do to help a good one develop.

Culture?

Every company has an intangible quality called "culture". Some may think that company culture is about having a "vision statement", or a set of vague-but-nice-sounding "company values", or being able to play füsball in the office... but it's not.

Culture is what a group of people naturally do when nobody is watching.

It's how the group naturally works and interacts, and how it responds to pressure and change. It's the way that members of the group choose to express themselves and how they celebrate successes and mitigate problems.

In a company, culture directly impacts how people interact and how they feel about working there. It is both defined by and defines how the people in that team act and respond. Culture plays a large part in defining the environment in which team members spend their time, and as such, it's incredibly important if you're hoping to work together successfully.

The importance of team culture

Having a good culture can attract great people to join the team, and can help retain existing team members because they are happier and more motivated to do great work.

Having a bad culture will do the opposite: as happiness and motivation drop, so does productivity, creativity and adaptability. Team members within a bad culture interact less and find it harder to deal with change.

It's impossible to dictate the culture of a team, because it is an emergent behaviour: a product of all of the actions and interactions of every individual in the team.

So if having a "good team culture" is so important, but you can't simply mandate it, what can you do?

Understand that you're a team

(There's a reason why at Harmonia we use the word team a lot.)

It might be tempting to think of your company as a set of distinct roles -- CEO, marketing, development, design, sales and so on -- each with an independent function, but this encourages people in those roles to only care about their specific responsibilities. Why should someone from sales take any interest in what development is doing?

The separation is an illusion, because each of those roles is meaningless without the others. There's no way for any one of those parts of a company to be successful independently from the others. While they may have different strengths and areas of focus, everyone should feel like they are part of the same team, working together and supporting each other to both define and then achieve the team's goals.

It's only the combination — the team — that can be successful in a meaningful way.

Foster an open environment

From the CEO to the intern, every person wants to be valued for the work that they do, and great ideas can come from anywhere in a team. If an employee doesn't feel that their actions and input are valued, they are:

If you are in a position where you are leading a team, this doesn't automatically mean that your ideas are always better than anyone who is "below" you in the corporate org chart. Being open and fostering collaboration and creativity across every part of the company will lead to a happier, stronger organisation as a whole.

Establish clear, repeatable processes

Often, nurturing a good culture will require making changes to existing behaviours within a team. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a team, or indeed a company: it can be very difficult to effect a consistent change in our own behaviour, let alone in a group of people.

One way of encouraging change is to create a routine. Just like the repetition in a personal exercise routine can lead to self-sustaining change in behaviour, establishing routines within a team can help bring everybody in-step and help to harmonise ways of working and approaching tasks.

Build empathy and adapt more easily

By sharing responsibility and accountability for these processes around the whole team, it's easier to develop empathy for others, because many of the tasks the team needs to handle can be shared.

A set of clear, simple processes that the whole team can simply and easily repeat, day after day, week after week, can also help a team adapt to change more easily, both in terms of people joining and leaving the team, and handling unexpected changes in the team's environment.

Harmonia can help

We built Harmonia to be a great tool for creating and supporting these routines and processes in a team.

Harmonia captures and manages many of these processes, but more importantly it strongly encourages the whole team to collaborate and work together to keep the team running smoothly.

By encouraging everyone to pitch in, a more open environment is created; one in which everyone's contributions are more obvious, and where the challenges the team faces as can be shared more easily.

In short, we're confident that Harmonia will help your team grow a better culture. Why not give it a try today?