Home Blog Advice May 2019 3 tips to help you build a great team culture

3 tips to help you build a great team culture

by Aaliah Eggins Bryson

Product Owner – Channel Experience

I recently attended a short course on storytelling, which was held by the World Institute of Storytelling in Chennai, India.

One thing that stood out for me was how we all should be taking inspiration from our own life stories. Why? Because they help us to reflect, which enables us to become the best version of ourselves.

Helping to build a great team culture is something that I am passionate about and I thought I would share some examples of how I have done this through my own life story.
A beautiful cricket team

I moved from Sydney to Melbourne in 2009 to explore a new opportunity within an organisation that I was working for at the time.

When I arrived in Melbourne, I was introduced to a beautiful group of people who were passionate about cricket.

The team was (and still is) associated with Altona North Cricket Club. It’s a great club and they really looked after us and gave us the space to express ourselves.

While I had opportunities to play this lovely game in India, the infrastructure and environment (turf cricket) you get to play in Australia was divine. So, we were naturally thrilled and excited to be part of the club.
Conflict is not always bad

The team was already playing together for a couple of years before I joined, and the comradery between each person was clearly evident. There was one issue, though, and that was a lack of consistency at the end of each season. We would finish each regular season in the top four but would lose in the semi-finals or the final.

After the season had finished, we would have a get together to reflect on what happened. This is normally when conflict amongst the team would arise and it got really bad towards the end of the 2012 season when the team wanted to split due to differences.

Sometimes, conflict such as this can tear a team apart, or if managed correctly, can bring a team closer together.
So how did we manage the conflict?

A couple of us went back to the drawing board and asked ourselves some tough questions. It became evident during this discussion that the conflict was much more than cricket. It came down to three things that we had to change as a team. They were:
  1. Our team needed a clear purpose
Giving our team a sense of purpose was critical to our success. Our purpose was higher than winning the championship; it was about the importance of sticking together for not only ourselves but for our families and local community.
  1. Defining key principles and stick to them
We set clear principles on how we would play together as team. Our principals were: transparency, trusting each other, inclusiveness and candour.

Creating the principles was the easy part, it was harder to get people to follow them. So we made sure that we referenced the principles during our team meetings, in practice sessions and before each match, so people could keep them top of mind.
  1. It’s important to measure performance
Our main goal was to win every game but that wasn’t the only thing. We also measured ourselves on the way we approached the game, our practice sessions and game intensity.

Even if we won the game and didn’t have a great intensity, we would have an open conversation after the match. This ensured we uncovered any issues and talked about how we could improve.

At the end of the day, it was not about winning but how we won or lost that mattered.
Behavioral change takes time

When you make changes within a team, there’s an expectation that you’ll see an immediate change. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes it can take a long time, so you need to be patient.

We were confident that with a clear sense of purpose, values and performance measures, we could build a stronger team. And sure enough, positive results started to show.

At the end of 2013, we could sense a culture change within the team. The process was kicking in and our energy levels were high.

During my last game before I moved back to India, there was lot of smiles and people congratulating each other for the way we played together during the season.
We finally won….

Irrespective of our result in 2013, we decided to stick to our game plan and fine-tuned a couple of changes to ensure we had success.

In 2014, our hard work paid off - we finally won the championship. Although, I didn’t play the game, I was constantly checking the score during the final. I was in tears when I heard the news that we had finally won the championship.

Personally, this episode of my life has always been something which I reflect upon, and has really helped me to build a strong culture within my team.

Do you want to join the Telstra team? See where a career with us in India can take you. 
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