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Durham University

Organisation Development

Culture: Guided by University Values and Respect

What makes a team, a good high performing team? Related projects? Common goals? Shared experiences? The team culture.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) summarises; Culture is the shared characteristics among people within the same organisation. It includes the values, norms of behaviour, routines, traditions, perspectives and beliefs of individuals. Whilst Covid-19 has certainly impacted many of our working practices, the University values and the Respect agenda will help guide our actions during this time.

If members of your team need constant oversight to be successful, that can be a big problem. The best way to encourage people to rise to the occasion is to demonstrate that you trust them and in turn enabling them to reach their full potential. Trust your team to get on without micromanaging them. Please discourage virtual presenteeism e.g. sending multiple emails throughout the day.


6 actionable tips for leaders to build trust with their team (Whalez, K. 2020)

10 ways to build trust in a relationship (Craig, H. 2020)

Read through the following eBooks which are available within Durham University eLibrary (Bookboon): Interpersonal Relationships & Communications, High-impact interpersonal skills.

This includes both our physical and mental health. We all need to and can take action that supports our health and wellbeing at work. This starts with a conversation, you may find the Conversation Compass Wellbeing Prompt helpful, which can be supported with a number of different wellbeing resources available on the Wellbeing and Working Differently Hub.


Read through the following eBooks which are available within Durham University eLibrary (Bookboon): Wellbeing at work, Practical Wellbeing During Difficult Times and Wellbeing in Unexpected Change.

Making sure you understand what each other needs in order to thrive and be your best at work. We all have different preferences for the way in which we like to work and which helps us to give our best. Remember your preference may not be the same as someone else – Do you know about your team members preferences? Can you facilitate ways to help uncover your colleagues preferences? The Situational Leadership approach can help you to understand how to flex your style to support your team members and encourage them to reach their full potential.


Situtational Leadership - an interesting clip can be found at this link. Those who wish to read further about Situational Leadership will find the book Leading at a Higher Level useful.

Read through the following eBooks which are available within Durham University eLibrary (Bookboon): Leadership Models, Leadership Styles Uncovered and Leadership and Motivation.

When you are working as part of a blended/hybrid team, it can be very easy for unhelpful or negative attitudes about the ‘other’ group to slip in e.g. your workplace-based colleagues thinking that team members working remotely or from home don’t work as hard or have an easier working experience. Building on working relationships, ensuring psychological safety is paramount in ensuring understanding. Ensure you address any unhelpful behaviour, you may find the Conversation Compass Challenging Prompt helpful here.


How to foster psychological safety in virtual meetings (Edmondson, A. C & Daley, G. 2020) hbr-org.cdn

Read through the following eBooks which are available within Durham University eLibrary (Bookboon): How to Start a Difficult Conversation and Navigating Conversations in the Workplace.

It can help team unity, harmony and morale if you can arrange occasional opportunities for your blended/hybrid team members to meet and get to know each other face-to-face, providing social distancing can be maintained. Alternatively are there actions you can take to bring people together to develop virtually through lunch & learns or skills swaps? This could be really helpful as we all take on so many new digital skills and new ways of working.


Read through the following eBooks which are available within Durham University eLibrary (Bookboon): Team Development and Teambuilding.

Virtual team building games.

Being aware of the potential imbalances that might surface for colleagues with different workplace experiences is certainly a positive first step towards levelling them.

Connections: chance meetings on campus allowed for greater connections and contributed to relationship building. We now need to consider ways to create this type of informal communication. Lots of teams already have virtual coffee socials, birthday celebrations and quiz sessions. Why not set up a coffee roulette where everyone is paired with someone they are not co-located with. Coffees can then happen remotely over video conferencing. (Also see ‘Communicating using technology’ on the Communication page)

Similarity: is there a tendency to favour those who have similar characteristics to yourself? Ensure you make equal time for people working remotely as well as those in the workplace.

A buddy system could be used to build relationships between people who are not located together, and to ensure that no-one gets forgotten. Buddies could be assigned on a termly basis to occasionally check in on each other or share a virtual tea break.

Distance: is there a tendency to favour people who are physically closer to us or have been able to come back to the workplace? Ensure you take distance/proximity out of your decision making when assigning projects or work tasks and think about who has the best skills and knowledge to support this project.


A new Unconscious Bias e-learning course has been developed in house and is available along with other development opportunities on the Organisation Development Continuing Personal Development web page.