How to Build Culture Driven Teams

Posted by Call Design on November 22, 2023

What is a Culture-Driven Team?

A culture-driven team is intentionally built around shared cultural values and norms, which are considered essential for success. It’s about identifying the values that resonate with your team and using them as the compass to guide your hiring, onboarding, and development processes. Building a culture-driven team means going beyond individual expertise and focusing on collective growth and collaboration.

Hiring for the Team, Not Just the Individual:

To build a culture-driven team, it’s crucial to prioritize the team dynamic over individual roles. Instead of solely focusing on qualifications, seek candidates who are the best fit for the team’s cultural fabric. You may be tempted to think that your new hire will typically have few opportunities to work with other people, so you don’t need to worry about team dynamics. Their “just” a forecaster, or scheduler that will be in the corner just pushing a few buttons (an oversimplification of their role!). The reality is that each person, regardless of how vocal or connected they are, impacts the whole team. As you hire each role you need to be thinking about the values your team is centered around, finding those values in the interview process, and then supporting the values during the training and onboarding process. Remember, a strong team always outperforms a lone superstar.

Possible Team Values:

There are a ton of values you can center your team around, and which ones you should pick will be dependent upon your leadership style, company values, and even your geographical area. For this blog, we’ll focus on four values that Call Design sees as important to helping people be Happy, Engaged, Fulfilled, and Aligned at work.

  • Curiosity: Look for candidates who exhibit a genuine thirst for knowledge and a desire to continuously learn and grow. This soft skill can be developed in others, but it’s incredibly hard to impart it to people who lack it entirely. Find individuals that naturally ask questions and look to dig into things.
  • Embracing Chaos: Seek individuals who thrive in dynamic environments and see chaos as an opportunity for innovation and adaptation. Contact center and WFM teams are full of days where things are constantly changing. The key isn’t just how they respond in chaos, but how they feel in chaos. Is the constantly changing environment life-giving or life-taking for them? Plenty of people can put up with the chaos, but where are the people that enjoy the chaos?
  • Transparency: Value candidates who prioritize open and honest communication, even if it means challenging the status quo and leadership! Organizations that not only allow but encourage people to push boundaries and innovate position themselves to be successful long-term. Sure, curiosity is important to innovation, but even more important is an environment where people are open and honest to push on bad ideas and share their opinions, even if it’s the opposite of the boss.
  • Kindness: Prioritize kind team members. It’s simple to say but hard to do. We all know that kindness doesn’t make up for an inability to do a job. We’ve all worked with a Kind Karen who is super sweet but is constantly needing help. And we’ve also worked with a Mean Megan who gets work done but no one wants to work with her. Reminder, we’re trying to build a team and not just fill roles. Karen’s kindness is going to have a bigger positive impact on the team than Megan’s, even if you try to isolate Megan to minimize the negativity while still benefiting from her efforts.

Interviewing for Cultural Fit:

Here are some questions you can use to find the four team values we’ve already highlighted.

  • Curiosity: “What questions do you have for me?” Normally we ask this question at the end of an interview but when we start with this question we learn a few things immediately. Did the person do any research and come prepared with a list of questions? If they didn’t, how quickly are they able to switch into questioning mode and how insightful are their questions? We can learn a lot about someone’s curiosity within the first few minutes of an interview by starting with this question.
  • Chaos: “Is chaos life-giving or life-taking”. Most people have a great answer as to how they respond in chaos, but the key here is how they feel in chaos. You can teach someone the steps you want them working through during fire drills, but if your chaotic environment is going to suck the life out of them, well that’s the opposite of what we’re looking for. Hire for feeling and train for action.
  • Transparency: “Tell me about a time you told your boss they were wrong.” If they can come up with a dozen examples they may be more interested in pointing out flaws than coming up with solutions. If they’ve never told their boss they’re wrong then they may not feel comfortable sharing honest feedback. This question allows you to see how easily the person can push against authority and possibly provide helpful feedback, even for the boss.
  • Kindness: Observe how candidates speak about their former employers and colleagues, looking for indications of a cooperative and compassionate mindset. Again, this value is so simple but it’s incredibly impactful on your team. Don’t overlook how well the interviewee would or would not get along with the rest of your team.

Side note: If you’d like some additional tips for interviewing check out our blog on being a servant leader during the interview process.

Reinforcing Culture through Onboarding and Development:

Once team members join your organization, it’s crucial to nurture and reinforce the desired culture:

  • Curiosity: Don’t just encourage curiosity, communicate that it’s an expectation. Every team meeting, 1-1 interaction, or catch-up conversation ask them what questions they have for you. If they are consistently saying they have none then that should be a big red flag. Help them understand that you expect them to have questions and to come to you with them. More than any other time, onboarding is when they need to be bringing questions to the table.
  • Embracing Chaos: After they’ve been on your team for a while ask them how they feel their job description should change. What should be removed and what should be added? Help them see that they have a chance to shape the chaos and focus on what brings them joy. Plus, they’ll be engaged and find fulfillment in a role they help shape!
  • Transparency: Lead by example and share your challenges, creating an environment where honesty and open communication are rewarded. Help them see that you value honesty and openness over being right and perfect. They’ve likely made a career of constantly having the right answer and getting things correct. Show them that even their leader is still making mistakes and trying to learn things. Set a tone that promotes transparency and honesty.
  • Kindness: Encourage team members to connect on a personal level and build relationships with their colleagues. It’s easy to do meet-and-greet meetings and just learn about the person’s role in the organization. Push your team to really find out about the person. The more they can learn about the person’s personal and professional life the better they’ll be able to collaborate and work together.

Building a culture-driven team is an investment that pays off in multiple ways. It not only enhances productivity and collaboration but also creates an environment where employees can be happy, engaged, fulfilled, and aligned. At Call Design, we are passionate about helping contact centers and workforce management teams unlock their full potential. We believe in the power of culture-driven teams and the positive impact they can have on organizations. If you’re ready to take your team to the next level, let’s connect and explore how we can collaborate to elevate your workforce management strategy. Together, let’s build a culture-driven team that drives lasting success!