“How do you want to spend 35-40% of your day at work?” – co-creating a team culture

On average a person spends 8.5 hours per day and according to various studies probably productive for three hours only.

How often do you reflect if you are in a growth environment or contributing to an environment where you can grow. An environment where you are learning, experimenting new ideas, and having fun at the same time. Where you have psychological safety. One way I have experimented with creating psychological safety and designed team alliance is by talking about team values.

While coaching agile teams, by setting up expectations in a team has supported to create transparency in the team culture. While kick-starting a remote agile team a few years ago I wanted to present team values to the team however with a different flavour. That’s when I asked the team “How do you want to spend 35-40% of your day at work?” and if that is an important conversation to have in the team setting.

Why talk about Team values?

Our values help us to understand what is important and what is not important in life. Values represent our individual and unique essence, it is our most fulfilling form of expression and relating to each other.

When we know more about our values it helps to find purpose. Values strengthen our ability to navigate through a difficult situation by choosing the right behaviours, actions, or interactions. Values help us to clear out clutter, make decisions, boost confidence, and increase a sense of self.

Values become visible when they are connected with demonstrable behaviours, actions, or interactions.

Using the Team Values exercise I have coached teams to design team alliance and working agreements by asking questions from the list below.

  • “What does Value mean to you?”
  • “What are the values you want to live by as a team?”
  • “How do you want to be with each other?”
  • “What will work best in the interactions?”
  • “What do they want for team culture and their relationships?”
  • “What values they want the team culture to express?”
  • “What can you count on when it gets difficult?”
  • “Who do you want to be together?”
  • “How do you want it to feel?”

Facilitation Guide

For this exercise you’ll need to download the Khurram Value deck and print it. You can also use the digital version if you wish to.

  1. Check-in with the team how everyone is doing (5 mins)
  2. Explain to the team this is a co-creating activity and everyone’s participation is required (unless someone wants to totally opt out)
  3. You can use any of the above metaphors to visualise the concept.
  4. Invite the team to go through all the values and select top 5 values those resonates to co-create a healthy team culture. (35-40 mins)
    • Team can group the values and pick the top one
    • Observe how the team is collaborating and doing the decision making. This will help to understand the team dynamics
  5. Invite the team to create a gesture or visualisation of each value (15-20 mins)
  6. Ask the team what made them select a particular value and how it will contribute to healthy team culture, try to explore the thought process. (5-10 mins)
  7. Invite the team to define the demonstrable behaviours, actions or interactions for each top 5 values. (25-30 mins)
    • Notice it is more actionable rather than fancy words or explanation
  8. Invite the team to have a conversation about commitment and accountability to this co-created team culture plan. (5 mins)
  9. Decide a date to revisit these team values and adapt it based on new information and learnings. (5 mins)

Experiment with it and please share your comments and feedback. Thanks

Inspirations & sources

img src unsplash.com

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