Building a Cohesive Team in a Hybrid World
Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Cohesive teams get better results and, according to The Predictive Index Annual Benchmarking Report 2021, 69% of companies restructured their teams within the past year. Now, leaders must understand how to re-build cohesion while working in a hybrid world. Seem easy, right?
Before March 2020, 58% of CEOs said they "strongly agree" that they have a cohesive leadership team. In one year, that number fell to only 41%. Another hurdle has been how to work well remotely. 51% of CEOs stated this was their biggest challenge in 2020. This is an important number because 97% of CEOs will allow some degree of remote working moving forward.
The question is, how do we build cohesive teams that work well remotely and perform at a high level? How is it different than when we all reported to an office daily?
This boils down to 3 key topics:
Focus on one main priority - While working remotely, there are many distractions employees are dealing with. As a company, when there is one main goal communicated clearly, people will easily understand which activities are most important and which ones are not. This will align them to achieve better results for the company.
Ensure the right people are in the correct role - This is key while working in the office and is even more important when people are remote. Can you imagine having someone in a sales role who is not self-motivated and now working from home? Can you say, "Nap time?" Companies need to hire the go-getting achievers who will wake up and start the day, even though they are not reporting to an office. Looking at past success, personality type, and ambitions outside of work will help you understand if someone is the right fit for a role.
Processes - When people know how to be successful, they are more likely to stay engaged. Of course, processes change and improve, but it is important to have specific responsibilities that people know so they can have a focus for each day.
Lead by example - I talk about this one a lot and still think it is one of the most important things a leader can do. How is this done in a remote world? Be on time to meetings, be positive, bring solutions to challenges, and be the one to stay connected with your people. Simply put, be the person you are asking your people to be.
Setting clear expectations - This can be done with the senior leadership team down to the organization's individual contributors. We all must understand what is expected of us to deliver results at a high level. After each meeting, ensure everyone understands their next steps and set a time for completion and follow-up. This will ensure things still get done on time while people are working remotely.
Customizing our approach - Some people might want daily communication to stay on track and feel connected, while others will prefer to talk once a week and still be insanely productive. It is important to figure out what each person needs and provide that customized attention.
Culture - It is still possible to have a strong culture in a hybrid world. If you are going to the office sometimes, make sure it is set up to allow people to collaborate. The focused work that they prefer to do alone can be done at home. You can have some focused areas set up in your office, but it no longer needs to be the only way workspace is set up. Plan team events, have consistent all company meetings, encourage people to provide feedback often and foster a culture where anyone can identify a challenge and pose a possible solution.
Communication - Ask people how they are doing and what they need from you. Make sure they know you care about how they are doing with work AND life. As everyone knows now, working remotely 100% of the time is very difficult. We are social creatures - even the most introverted people need social interaction and have a strong need for connection. As leaders, we need to provide this for our teams. Be flexible with the hours people work and let them do what is needed to get the job done, but give up making sure they are working 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily.
Focus on outcomes - The days of daily call trackers have been fading for a while. Anyone can make 100 calls a day. What we need to focus on is the outcome of those calls. What would you prefer 100 calls with no meetings set or 20 calls with 10 new meetings set? I know quantity is an important metric, but we cannot micromanage metrics if we want teams to feel empowered and engaged.
In summary, to build greater team cohesion in a hybrid world, listen to your colleagues, understand what everyone needs to be successful and make sure you provide it, communicate regularly, have clear expectations, foster connection whenever possible, and lead by example.
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