The tips shared in this guide are a great starting point, but they’re not going to be the end-all for your team. Thankfully, your company culture provides a great blueprint for endless team building ideas and processes.
We’re talking about company values.
As we discussed in Chapter 3, company culture succeeds when these values are lived. Managers can use values as a drawing board for future team building processes, naturally incorporating trust and alignment into their everyday work.
We’ll look at a few examples of how companies translated their values into unique processes:
GitLab is one of the largest remote-first organizations with over 1,000 employees fully distributed around the world. Not only have they written the actual handbook on remote work, but they also have a fantastic process for putting their company values into action.
Values at GitLab follow the acronym CREDIT, which represents the credit they give one another:
- Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging
For each value, there’s a set sub-value meant to “substantiate” the core value. These sub-values clarify how this value shows up at GitLab. They can be added or removed, depending on what helps the team drive behavior best.
Under “Collaboration,” GitLab has the sub-value “Say thanks.” They’ve expanded this sub-value into the team building process of their #thanks channel in Slack. There are rules of how to thank someone, “Thanking a person in #thanks should be done sincerely and summarize why you are thankful so the person on the receiving end can easily understand why they are being thanked. Even while assuming positive intent, not all folks are comfortable with public praise. Help this person understand how they went above and beyond and why you felt it was important for the team member to be recognized.”
“Collaboration” has another sub-value called “Get to know each other.” Under this, they’ve developed processes like “virtual coffee chats” for bonding and team building. GitLab employees are encouraged to dedicate a few hours each week talking to other GitLab employees. There are clear instructions for scheduling, diversifying, and getting a chat with leadership in their Handbook.
Doist, the tech company behind Todoist and Twist, is a remote-first company spread across 40 countries and 75 cities. Doist has a value called “Ambition & Balance” that directly aligns with its efforts towards mental health. They’ve written vulnerable, personal articles about the isolation and depression many remote workers battle with. They’ve also shared a few internal policies they’re working on:
- “Openly acknowledging that there can be serious mental health issues related to remote work. People are not alone in these struggles, and there’s nothing “wrong” with feeling anxious or depressed.”
- “Creating an environment that encourages open conversations about these hard topics and not making them a taboo. We encourage this in 1-on-1s and in public threads. We even had a workshop at our last retreat devoted to the topic of anxiety and remote work.”
- “If a person is having problems with depression, anxiety, or stress then we should be there 100% for them (as co-workers, as leaders, and as a company).”
These strategies, along with more tactical practices like mental health days and daily mindfulness posts help the teams and managers at Doist prioritize what’s important.
Asana, the team collaboration platform, has a global workforce spread across the globe. They also have nine values, including “Be real (with yourself and others)” and “Heartitude.” The latter describes embracing meaningful experiences and what makes people human.
These values have driven efforts such as Employee Resource Groups (ERGs.) Groups for underrepresented minorities, parents, and caregivers have helped drive community and team building at Asana during the pandemic. The ERGs host monthly events to celebrate diversity and encourage safe discussions about key issues.
In addition, Asana has facilitated “no meeting Wednesdays” to fight burnout and Zoom fatigue. Teams are encouraged to keep their Wednesday schedules free for more deep work and family time. By prioritizing the value “Mindfulness,” Asana was able to create a process that helps entire teams recover.
These are only a handful of ways companies have created team building practices from their cultural blueprint. Whether it’s a move for a company-wide effort or a smaller practice on a team, value-based processes help a culture iterate.