Changing the culture of an IT team can be challenging, yet rewarding. Creating a motivational, meaningful and positive atmosphere among IT offers a the opportunity to grow together as a team. The literal environment can be loud and cramped with few human interactions and lots of work to do. But the quality of an IT department’s culture can be crucial to lowering team and company attrition, seeing better business results, and growing each team member personally and professionally. Here are some ideas on how to strengthen the bond between the team, build a strong(er) culture and improve team member capabilities.
- Recruit for Culture Fit (as well as ability to execute) – Compiling a solid team all begins when you fill open positions. Take the time to discuss the culture with your team’s recruiter so they may screen applicants for good culture fits. Make sure applicants cannot only execute on job function, but also qualify for culture fit and and ability to contribute in making each team member better that their job. (Yay teamwork!) Also, look for opportunities to fill knowledge and skill gaps on the team and personality fit with leadership and customers.
- Invest in Your People – Offer ongoing training opportunities to learn and grow. This is not just about technology, although this is important, but also their professional goals. Investing in individuals’ professional development shows leadership’s support and sharing those professional goals with the team may help team members support each other as well.
- Get Offsite – Take time as a team away from work to build relationships. Team building not only helps ensure that everyone feels like they are a valued part of the team, but it also provides time and space to get to know everyone on the team. Plan an offsite event that everyone will enjoy. Taking the group on a local fishing trip, a night at the bowling alley, an excursion to a local winery or taking a team cooking class. This offers the opportunity to not only do something as a team, but spend time before or after the main activity to meet and discuss goals, challenges, development and execution. There could be planning needed with this but the outcome could place the team miles ahead of where you started prior to the offsite meeting.
- Professional Development – Give each team member the opportunity to development and educate themselves and the whole team. This will eventually make each member of the team into a consultant .During regular meetings, carve out time for 1 member of the team to educate the rest on something that they either specialize in or are interested in learning more about. This can be a strong opportunity to establish credibility with teammates and open discussion about a certain topic. Knowing that leadership is invested in and expects personal growth and each team member’s education is motivational.
- Be Progressive and Competitive – IT employees are always researching new technology and ideas. Use that to your advantage and provide open opportunities to share these ideas with the team. Sharing these ideas with the business in a fun and competitive “Shark Tank” style event may even provide the opportunity to reward a top proposal/idea with funding!
- Make Goal Attainment Fun! – Team goals can be challenging to achieve, but overachievement should be celebrated! Providing the team with SMART goals is essential to effective goal setting. Making the attainment milestone and event, (like a offsite lunch) as a team or a highly sought after team outing or even a small gift card goes a long way.
- Maniacal Team Focus on your Customer – Be it an internal team that you support or the customer of the business itself, keep your eye on delighting them with everything that you do. Make this a cohesive team focus.
Deloitte calls IT culture an overlooked secret weapon with the ability to be a competitive differentiator. Creating a strong team with a unique and attractive culture takes time and focus. Its an evolution of relationships, behaviors, execution, and most importantly time. Ask for support from the other lines of business like HR and Leadership and know that increased focus on the team culture and professional development will lead to improved team execution and overall happiness.
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