Updated: Jun 21
Following a long period of working remotely
There's a trend that many L&D professionals have noticed - largely because we're the ones who are often called in to 'fix' things with a wave of our magic wands, and its this: teams aren't working they way the did or the way they should.
After over 2 years of remote or hybrid working teams are not really TEAMS, but a group of people who work together. There may not be open conflict, and things may not be broken, but there's no denying it - in many organisations teams are NOT firing on all cylinders.
And of course, in these last 2 years people have left and new people have joined. New people may know their colleagues at a functional level but relationships are likely to be superficial. As they move into a workspace that is new to them, they may need inducting - even if they've worked for you for 9 months!
Working together in person brings a whole new set of challenges and people need to adjust. During this period of adjustment, it's perhaps not surprising that performance is sacrificed.
So here are 3 simple things that managers can do to start rebuilding their team:
Take the pressure off (for a little while). Prioritise people and relationships over tasks and targets. This may mean taking extended lunch-breaks together, doubling people up to work on things or building time into meetings to discuss non-work related things.
Re-establish focus, priorities and ways of working. As people have largely worked alone, working habits will have drifted. Take the opportunity to clarify the focus, priorities, roles and ways of working that are relevant NOW. Managers may have to let go of pre-conceptions here and be prepared to try something new.
Pro-actively connect people. Take time to re-engage with individuals via one-to-ones. Take a genuine interest in them as people and then reintroduce them to team members who have similar interests, backgrounds or challenges.
In reality, many established teams are new teams. They will be going through all of those messy stages defined by Tuckman without even realising it. It's a perfect opportunity to help managers to recognise where their team is at and help them to help their teams through it.
Our bite-size session on Practical Team Building is ideal for bringing this to top of mind and equipping managers with ideas that they can implement to make things easier as people learn to work together again. PLUS it's designed for face-to-face delivery so ideal for getting people back in a room together!
And once the foundations have been laid, managers can work on the next stage...
Building a High Performing Team
Or maybe RE-Building one! This has to be done TOGETHER. A team belongs to everyone, and the way in which it works must be co-created. Of course, the leader of the team must provide goals and boundaries, but a team is a unique thing and must be treated as such.
It's important to build the team the right way - using the GRPI model really helps with this and is one of the concepts explored in our Build a High Performing Team ready-written training materials. It is really easy for managers to grasp and implement to make sure that don't waste time and effort, or seriously damage relationships along the way.
But often the first thing to do when fixing a broken team is to find out WHY it isn't working well. And for that, we turn to Lencioni's 5 Dysfunctions of Team. Taking an objective look at where the problem lies means that leaders can take targeted action to improve the performance of the team by focusing on the areas that need most attention. Whether it's:
Lack of trust
Fear of Conflict
Lack of commitment
Avoiding accountability, or
Inattention to results
Practical actions can be taken to start to fix the under-performing team.
But as with so many things, small and consistent actions can turn things around.
10 things managers can do to build a high performing team
Our ready-written training module on Building a High Performing team includes lots of practical ideas managers can implement to bring about a change. These include:
Set clear goals
Define roles and responsibilities
Demonstrate participative leadership
Have open and clear communication
Encourage mutually supportive relationships
Create a positive atmosphere
It's unrealistic to expect managers to turn their teams around quickly, and setting SMART goals, introducing new processes or micro-managing people won't do it. It takes time, and those managers will need training and support as they lead their team through challenging times. Training that you can provide NOW by using our ready-written materials.