Changing your Team Culture – Make it work in the real world

| 24 May 2019

Over the last three weeks I’ve been sharing with you a step by step process to help you change your team culture. (if you can’t find the articles contact

In last week’s article, I talked about the importance of focusing on no more than three critical behaviours to change – if you try to change everything at once, you’ll end up changing nothing.

A while back, I worked with a senior Finance Team. One of the things the new leader wanted was a ‘more open’ culture. He’d been saying this for a while and everybody nodded their heads in agreement – but nothing changed.


He hadn’t been specific enough about what ‘more open’ actually means and how that translates into daily working life.

When I asked each of the team to define ‘more open’ they each had their own ideas about what this meant – but they’d never really articulated this as a group.

So forget meaningless platitudes and get granular, here.

Get REALLY specific

  • If you want a ‘culture of open-ness’ – what does that actually look, sound and feel like? What specifically will be different in my behaviour and your behaviour?
  • What will happen if we don’t operate with more open-ness?
  • How can I, as your leader, role model being more open? Again, get specific.
  • What is the benefit of ‘open-ness’ to you, me and the team – and the organisation?
  • Ask your team members to give one specific example of how they will be more ‘open’ (and don’t settle for meaningless platitudes!).
  • How can we measure our progress towards open-ness?
  • Keep the behaviour changes top of mind all the time. In your 1-1s and team meetings refer to them. Yes, you will be like a broken record at times but it is more likely that the changes will happen if you constantly refer to them and celebrate your successes. However small.

To role model ‘open-ness’ you need to be open yourself. Maybe you can share what you are struggling with, or ask the team for help. Or you might have a different type of 1-1 conversation with your team members where you ask them how things are going generally and what they are enjoying/finding challenging rather than just running through a task list.

Quick Wins

If there are some quick wins to go for, then go for them! For example, you could be more open with your own boss about some of the work you and the team are doing that is not adding value and suggest some solutions to do it in a more time effective way.

That is then a great example to share with the team: ‘As a result of being more open with x about our workload and priorities, I’m happy to say we only have to do that report once a month instead of weekly.’

Win-win all round! You’ve demonstrated a clear benefit of creating a more open culture.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this four part series on Changing your Team Culture and I welcome your questions, comments or feedback.