Over the past 12 months, there has been a plethora of discussions about the future of work, and what it will look like post-pandemic. At the core of these discussions is the notion of productivity, where the premise for supporting a more flexible working arrangement hangs on the idea that ‘I am more productive at home without office distractions’.
This begs the question: are we running the risk of valuing individual productivity over team productivity? Many leaders have expressed concerns that their teams are feeling tired and isolated and that they are beginning to lose their sense of belonging. In fact, some have suggested that anxiety has risen to such a level that their teams are simply ‘going through the motions’.
People thrive in team environments where they are surrounded by family, colleagues and sports teams, or friendship and community groups; they especially thrive in high performance teams. But organisations aren’t using these times to build their team environment. They have put this on hold. They aren’t intentionally utilising familiar technology platforms that still enable us to connect in a real sense. Yes, physical proximity is desirable, but there is no logic in (hopelessly) waiting for the next in-house team building day.
In their efforts to maximise individual productivity, organisations are missing the opportunity to recognise and build on the need to connect their people back to their teams at levels far deeper that the ‘transaction’—like a team meeting to discuss work in progress.
Now, more than ever, teams need to be connected and engaged. They need to be brainstorming, collaborating, conversing, sharing, challenging, helping and enjoying. When was the last time your team came up with the next big idea?
Building connection for a High Performance Environment
An organisation’s values are reflected in its choices. Choosing collective performance means not missing the opportunity to build a productive team environment. Although catching up to talk about a particular project or having ‘Zoom’ drinks on Friday afternoon may well be of value, it does not constitute a genuine commitment to building a high performance environment.
The cornerstone of high performance environments is trust: what is your organisation doing now to build on this foundation? Waiting until the team is together in one room is a high risk approach. Begin creating more meaningful conversations by seeking to understand where your team members are emotionally.
- What is concerning them at a personal level right now?
- What scares them right now?
- How is their family coping with the current environment?
- What are they enjoying about their changing lives?
- What is causing them frustration?
- What are they finding challenging?
- What does success look like for them and for their team right now?
The Value in Real Conversations
How often do your leaders discuss their team’s purpose? How can leaders ensure they deliver on this during times when disconnection is being offered up as an excuse?
A team conversation is the best time to discuss your team’s purpose. Ignite a discussion that offers your team’s purpose more impetus. Discuss what needs to be implemented, improved or investigated. Take the time to discuss your team’s core values and align them with its current environment. A team conversation should cover what its values look like now that working-from-home arrangements are in play. Keep in mind, however, that values are not nouns. Being humble is not a value; the value is in the behaviours that define what this looks like in the team and now is the time to realign those behaviours.
Are your leaders missing opportunities to have the real conversations? Are they placing sufficient emphasis on discussing and planning ‘collective productivity’? The shift in what an organisation values will put teams in the strongest position to accelerate performance beyond what is happening now. The teams that will emerge the strongest are working on this today, and have been for the past 12 months. If you are not doing this now, you will get left behind.
Written by Garie Dooley.
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