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The Secret to Turning Toxic Culture into Thriving Culture

Bad culture is like vulgarity: “you know it when you see it.”

Unfortunately in today’s workplace, it’s much more common for the saying to go, “you know it when you experience it.”

Bad culture - a workplace of mistrust, lack of communication, feeling undervalued, micro-managing, and hyper-intense pressure - is sadly common is today’s work world, for one simple reason:

Bad culture develops in a vacuum. It’s the default.

Developing an actively good culture, on the other hand, takes effort.

What Makes Good Culture

When people talk about great culture, they usually envision an environment based on trust, accountability, inclusivity, etc.

But an environment like this doesn't just happen. It takes time and, even more importantly, practice to develop an outstanding culture where people feel valued, heard, and trusted.

In our last article, we talked about the importance of practice to solidify on-the-job education and learning. Practice is the key to retaining information and encoding into your personal operating system (just think about how you learned the ABCs).

The importance of practice, however, goes beyond how an individual learns. It also includes how organizations develop the attributes and culture that they want to embody. Deliberate practice - practice where you put thought and effort into what you’re doing instead of going through the motions - is the key to building a positive culture into the DNA of your organization.

How To Develop A Healthy Team Culture

An organization’s culture is built from the culture of its individual teams, which are the building blocks that contribute to the whole. And there are two essential ingredients for a healthy team culture: trust and accountability.

However, as crucial as these characteristics are, they don’t just magically appear when a new team is created. Trust and accountability start with small demonstrations on day-to-day tasks, such as:

  • meeting (or beating) deadlines;

  • staying engaged and asking the right questions during meetings; and

  • producing high quality work.

These demonstrations of trustworthiness and accountability, combined with team members getting to know each other better, accrue over time and gradually grow into trust. And thus, a healthy team culture is born.

The faster a new team can build that trust, accountability, and healthy culture, the sooner it contributes to the thriving of the overall organization. And while accountability and trust will never form instantaneously, there is one way to speed up the process: practice.

Particularly, practice that allows teams to experiment with how to communicate and collaborate in real time.

There are many excellent tools that teams can use to practice new ways of working together and building accountability and trust. Games especially are a great way to practice different modes of communication and collaboration in a non-threatening environment, giving team members the opportunity to fast-track their rapport and trust in each other.

The act of practicing, of learning and growing together on a granular, team-based level is what eventually builds a great organizational culture. Working together, it can create a whole that is worth way more than the sum of its parts.

Keep on practicing!

Want to learn how games can contribute to a thriving culture at your workplace? Come and play with us!


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