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Team Culture

Behaviour, not Culture, Eats Strategy for Breakfast

By April 23, 2020No Comments

Governments around the world have responded with great strategies to meet the COVID-19 threat. The culture that each leader has fostered and abided by has shaped their responses to the global pandemic—evidenced, for instance, by Donald Trump’s response compared to the response of Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen. And while every nation has responded to the pandemic in some way, all have struggled to execute their plans effectively within a short time period.

We have often been told that culture is the aligning force which makes change happen. That just aligning people to a true north and starting some corporate programs will create this. This myth has been spread by consultancies and ego-driven executives who spend a fortune in “building culture” to emulate nimble start-ups or case studies that may (or may not) be true for that company in that instance.

Google, a company often touted for its great culture, has identified team behaviours (also known as norms) as the key difference between highly effective teams and ones that are not. However, most managers are not trained in creating behaviours. While EQ training has increased, it’s not a tool that helps managers craft good behaviours in their teams even though it is critical for interpersonal relationships.

The top-down approach of enforcing company “behaviours” also does not work, as it means managers need to enforce compliance in behaviours that may not be right for their team and what they do, with the behaviours quickly losing adoption or superseded by the next idea.

Actions and behaviours are closely related to each other, often creating a virtuous cycle. Actions stem, from and reinforce behaviours; so if we promote the right behaviours we will get the right actions. How can you promote and foster the right behaviours within your team?

Through our experience in Culture and the Future of Work, we have worked with remote, distributed teams across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. We fervently believe that we can make the future of work, better than today. In our free guides to building team culture, The Culture Canvas and Me We Us – Remote Team Management, we provide overviews in how to promote better behaviours within teams and provide toolkits to support doing so.

We would love to hear your feedback and how we can help you strengthen your remote teams.

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