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First Line Managers Set the Tone for Team Culture

By Emilie Shoop (915 words)
Posted in Management on July 2, 2014

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First time supervisors or managers are at the mercy of the organization as a whole when it comes to creating a great team culture to work in. 




The biggest, silliest mistake I see new leaders making is:


  • Thinking they have nothing to do with the culture
  • That they can’t make a difference
  • That their job is to just keep doing things the way they have always been done.


From large studies like Gallup Polls, to many smaller surveys through job posting websites, the number one reason people leave their jobs is their immediate manager or supervisor.  Armed with that information, as you are figuring out how you will succeed in your new role, take some time to plan your culture.  Almost everyone skips over this step, and just a little bit of planning will go a long way.


To get started with your plan for a great culture, look around the organization and see what is already there.  What is it that you like about it?  What would you like to change?  Make a list.


Then, look within your team and see how it fits within the organization.  Is your team charged with being the backbone of stability for the company?  If so, your culture will be a little different.  However, if your team is where all the creativity is to come from for future growth, what that team culture looks like will require different thinking.


Here are some key words to describe your team culture to get you thinking:









Thank you











Now that you have painted the picture of a great culture for your team and how you fit in with the organization as a whole, start making a plan for how you are going to make that happen for the team.  What simple, daily or weekly activities can you incorporate to enable the culture to develop the way you would like?  Better yet, how can you make it a game? 


One client I was working with wanted to shift their culture so that the leaders were more approachable.  They had gotten in the habit of always looking so busy and stressed that the employees would not feel comfortable interrupting them with a question.  My assignment to them for the next couple weeks was to keep track of how many times they saw each of the other managers outside of their offices.  It worked great because they had to be outside of their offices to catch the others, and because it was more like a game than work.  Over time the staff reported that it was so great seeing the managers more often, and that they even smiled more!


Even if you are working in a very large organization, you can have an effect on the culture of your team.  When I became a manager for the first time, I worked in a large academic environment.  Information on purpose, direction, budgets, and so on was rarely shared down to my level.  However, within my team we really valued that information so that we could plan and provide the best service to the organization as a whole.  I took it on to push for the information my team needed even though it wasn’t being shared readily with me.  Then, I made sure to give my team all the information I had or let them know what information was unable to get.  The more we did this, the better we planned and the more comfortable we were with moving forward on big projects together.  Had I just accepted the environment the way it was, my team would have been unhappy, less engaged, and less productive.


Make a decision today on what you want your team culture to look like.  Plan on how you can make that happen.  Include your team; see what they need and how they can help develop the culture.  Don’t make the mistake of not realizing you have everything to do with the culture of your team!


{#/pub/images/EmilieShoop2014.jpg}Written by Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting A sought after Coach, Mompreneur, Strategist, Mentor, Speaker, Author, Trainer & Business Consultant, Emilie works with people who are ready for that next level of success, and realize how they work with people is KEY.  Her coaching will help you lead, delegate, sell, collaborate, perform, influence, and relate with people to launch your success to the next level. She provides clients, teams and organizations the skills and tools for leadership and professional excellence.


Do you have a management question for Emilie?  Post it in our First Time Manager/Supervisor Community and she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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