Build a team culture where direct reports can bond without feeling like you’re forcing togetherness.
A strong team culture can give you and your direct reports something to bond over, sending any potentially divisive biases into the background. Plus, these things may boost everyone’s happiness at work.
To build team culture, try giving your team something that signals “we’re one team” — a team nickname, shirts, mascot, or motto. Encourage the group to develop a common language — not just acronyms and jargon common to your work, but also inside jokes and phrases that describe the team’s successes and challenges (say your team crushes a goal, hitting 123 percent of your target, you might refer to the achievement as “easy as 1-2-3”). And set up team events like lunches or volunteer work around a shared cause.
At the same time, be careful not to put pressure on holdouts or newcomers to join in. Some people love team chants, while others outright refuse — smart leaders make room for varied levels of participation. Also, invite newcomers to add new quirks or activities to the team’s culture, and be upfront with the team about the fact that team culture tends to change over time — a healthy and natural thing.