How Can You Create Effective Team Dynamics In A Quirky Work Culture?
Say you work with all foodies and paying that much attention to how your arugula is grilled doesn’t matter to you. Or what if everyone plays Pokemon Go and you wish Pokemon would just go away? What if each one of your coworkers rides a bike to work and you live too far to pedal plus you drop off children or carpool?As an effective leader at work working to shape team dynamics, you don’t have to align with every habit, preference and taste level of your coworkers and teammates to have a successful team.You can build a workplace culture that is inclusive without being demanding of compliance and sameness.Say your team is invested in something like spirituality in the form of tarot and meditation that you’re just not into? That specific question was raised to Alison Green, creator of Ask A Manager whose syndicated content ran in the Triad Business Journal.The reader asked: “There are also unofficial team-building activities every month where we all go to someone’s house, silently meditate for half an hour, and then discuss our personal visions. These events are not strictly mandatory, but it’s heavily implied that not participating equals not being a team player. As far as I know, these things are just on my team and aren’t officially sanctioned by upper management…but that’s probably because upper management is largely unaware (these meetings are arranged through private Facebook events/Slack messages).”Green, whose savvy blog covers real questions she answers from her managerial experience, advised that this was really out of line and will negatively affect team dynamics. She wrote: “It’s not fair to put that burden on someone when this isn’t an activity that’s appropriate for work in the first place. (It’s sort of like why it’s a bad idea to have really ribald, sexually-based humor at work even if no one objects. Eventually someone will come along who does, and it’s not right to make them either suffer in silence or be seen as the stick in the mud who puts an end to it.)”She added, “What’s more, it doesn’t sound like the rest of the company knows your team is doing this, and that’s a problem too. I would not be pleased if I found out that a manager I oversaw was pushing this on employees. Lots of people find The Secret either ridiculous or downright offensive (particularly the part about blaming people for attracting cancer or poverty into their lives), but I also wouldn’t be pleased if I found out they were injecting Christianity or Hinduism or atheism or 70s-style encounter groups into how they functioned. This kind of thing just doesn’t belong at work.”What are the strategies to set boundaries and produce cohesive team dynamics in a culture that is offbeat or quirky?“New leaders often think that they have to be the loudest and most dominant voice. But you can learn so much more by listening to your team,” said Mary Beech, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Kate Spade and Co. in Motto.Beech suggests you also do not want people on your team who are exactly like you. Different people bring in different ideas. Quirkiness can be a good thing. Demanding everyone conform to one set of quirky habits or preferences is not. Allow for individuality.[bctt tweet=“Different people bring in different ideas. Quirkiness can be a good thing.”]“No one is good at everything—and why should you be? Be honest about what you’re good at and where you need support, then find people with skills to round out the areas that you currently lack. And don’t just look for ‘yes men’—you want people who are willing to challenge you as a leader. It helps everyone grow,” Beech said.One key ingredient in your leadership and in bringing people together with positive team dynamics is to use your intuition.[bctt tweet=“One key ingredient in your leadership is to use your intuition.”]“The science is clear: intuition is a powerful force of the mind that can help us to make better decisions. Fortunately, intuition is a skill that you can hone by practicing the habits of highly intuitive people,” writes Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart in World Economic Forum.While this may sound like loose, amorpohous advice, it actually is science-based.“One of the primary reasons that some people are more intuitive than others is that they actually listen to their gut feeling instead of dismissing or doubting it. And that doesn’t mean that they ignore their analytical mind and their critical thinking skills; there’s a difference between using reason as a system of checks and balances and using it to talk yourself out of what your intuition knows to be true,” Bradberry writes.Speaking up once can change your teams culture and habits. So if your gut tells you that perhaps you should speak up about everyone in the office Snapchatting from their desks or require contributing money to a betting pool on who will win the gold in what competitions in Rio, instead of blindly jumping in, use your leadership to say not everyone has to join. And it’s OK. This will shift the team dynamics to a more solid foundation.Celebrating the diversity of the team in terms of not only gender, but also race, age, cultures, backgrounds, ideas, attitudes, habits, hobbies and preferences while not mandating conformity may lead to success for the team under your leadership.“One of the most essential characteristics for a high-functioning team — perhaps the single most important characteristic — is trust. Anyone who has worked on a team knows that team members must be able to trust each other to get the job done, and be committed and dedicated to the overall welfare of the group. In any group of individuals, trust is challenging to create and sustain, but in the case of a multicultural team it can be especially difficult for a variety of different reasons,” write Andy Molinsky and Ernest Gundling in Harvard Business Review.“The team leader must establish team norms that everyone sticks to — no matter what their personal default might be. Rather than simply imposing your own preferred style, start by taking into account what will work best for the team as a whole, and consider incorporating practices from other cultures that could be useful. For instance, if you normally assign individual responsibilities but many team members have a preference for handling work in small project groups, you could assign complex tasks to small groups,write Molinksy, Professor of International Management and Organizational Behavior at the Brandeis International Business School, and Gundling, Managing Partner at Aperian Global.The “9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career” developed by Gloria Feldt, Take The Lead Co-Founder and President, address these issues in leadership programs and equip women with immediately actionable tools proven to enhance performance as well as inspire sustainable leadership, aspirations, behaviors, confidence and actions.“Culture is everything,” according to Talent Culture. “A strong workplace culture will attain, retain, and train its people to the extent that it believes in the power of human capital.”