No doubt the pandemic has taken its toll on our relationships at work. As social animals, we thrive when we feel connected, work towards a common goal, and can celebrate success together. All that is harder when working remotely. Now we have a unique opportunity to create the best work environment for employees and sustainable business performance going forward. Companies that get the mix between remote work, flexible working hours, and face-to-face time right will be the ones that will succeed.
How do you ensure you create and maintain the team culture you need to be productive post-pandemic?
GET THE WHOLE TEAM TOGETHER
The first change a team leader might want to make is to get the whole team together at the office on the same days a couple of times a week. Executives who we have coached in the last 12 months have had very different opinions on remote work and what works or does not work for them. Most of them told us they do not want to go back to how things were and spend 100 % of their working time in an office. But they also acknowledged that while the output performance of the team might not have suffered or might even have improved during the lockdown, the relationship - the team culture - suffered from not being able to work face-to-face. And that affected the performance and well-being of the team in other ways.
DEVELOP MORE RELATIONAL MOMENTS
A second action a team leader can take is to make sure the focus of the time the team spends together is on the right kind of work. There is substantial evidence that virtual teams communicate less efficiently than face-to-face groups. Because exchanging information is more complex, virtual teams tend to be more task-oriented, transactional and exchange less social-emotional information, thereby slowing the development of relational links. The development of relational links is significant because researchers have associated strong relational links with many positive outcomes, including enhanced creativity and innovation, motivation, increased morale, and better decisions.
To create a thriving team culture, get the team together face-to-face and use this time to exchange social-emotional information and strengthening the relational links.
Here are some suggestions on how to do this most effectively:
Up-date your own and the team's virtual and face-to-face 'teaming' skills by working with a team coach. Work on communication skills - especially on conflict handling, feedback and accountability.
Plan regular team meetings and set some time aside to attend to the well-being and the 'being' of the team.
Spend time on building trust in the team. Trust is like self-esteem - it eases the way for other good things to happen.
Do not over schedule this valuable time. Leave space for informal encounters and conversations.
As a team leader, have one-on-one conversations with all team members regularly to strengthen your relationship and make sure the trust level is high.
Leaders need to be very good at using soft skills – or as we call them 'power skills' - to build and maintain a good team culture. They need to update how they lead and participate in teams to succeed in the new post-pandemic work environment.
Do you have the skills and the self-awareness to lead a team and be a productive team member in this modern, post-pandemic world? At Permanent Beta you can learn more about leadership skills needed to lead a cohesive team or to up-skill your team to be able to thrive in a hybrid virtual world. We have the skills, the experience, and a proven framework to partner with you on your learning journey.