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Rebooting Your Team Post COVID

How to Lead & Motivate Your Remote & Co-located Workforce

Accountability, Agility & Alignment Are The Three Necessary Team Ingredients for 2021

David Stewart

The COVID Pandemic has required organisations to adapt to a new (previously unseen) reality; the need to lead, engage and manage both co-located and remote team members

The next twelve months will require Teams to recalibrate, revisit and rethink how they will work effectively together. Teams have traditionally worked in a co-located environment, where staff turn up for work at a defined workplace. COVID has now changed this.

Networked Teams = The New Reality:
(Co-Located Staff + Remote Staff)

Staff who are either working remotely (from home) or are co-located onsite (at the one location) is the new reality. This is a Networked Team. Workplace flexibility has been evolving, but COVID has accelerated the need for employers to address the adoption of  Networked Teams and how to work effectively as a team.

The Challenge for Leaders:

Working from home (remotely) blurs the lines between professional and personal lives and requires a new set of team disciplines and behaviours.

Feedback, from organisations around the World who are navigating COVID restrictions, has revealed that, whilst there are many advantages to your team working from home, there are many challenges which include:

  • Creating a sense of belonging and team engagement amongst team members 
  • A lack of natural face to face socialisation reduces personal accountability and team alignment
  • The above often results in an increase in operational errors & omissions
  • The informal communication that takes place when all team members are in the one location disappears, hence more formal and frequent communication needs to be adopted to ensure the team is connected. 
  • Team members having a narrower view of the World can alter their alignment with organisational objectives and team priorities become more difficult
  • Keeping individual motivation up to avoid burnout 

The need to Lead an effective, proactive, and functioning Networked Team is the new Challenge for Leaders.

The New Reality: Every business will need to address how to engage and motivate team members who are working in both a co-located and remote work environment. Ignore one at your peril

David Stewart

The Team Dynamics That Won’t Change:
(Engaging & Aligning the Team)

The principles of developing a united, engaged, and agile team that consistently performs will not change. A Leader still needs to ensure healthy team dynamics including: 

  • Having a Common Purpose and commitment to the team mission
  • Building a Sense of Unity, belonging and engagement to the team
  • Fostering Familiarity and Trust within the team
  • Having Efficient Feedback Loops and measures of success
  • Team Disciplines and team rituals
  • Having Confident and Empowered Team Members who make informed decisions

The Team Dynamics That Will Need to Change:
(How Teams Work Together)

Simply adopting what worked when all team members were co-located in the one place will not suffice. There are differences when leading and working in a networked team. There are key ingredients which will need to be adapted and adopted including:

  • Update policies on co-located v remote workers (At Work V At Home)
  • The Ways to Engage and Socialise Teams (Socialisation Builds Familiarity)
  • Communication Disciplines and Frequencies (Must Increase but Shorter)
  • Manage by Talking Around, not just Walking Around (Technology Enabled)
  • Measuring Team Performance (via meaningful measures & monitoring)
  • Building a sense of Belonging(Engagement, Familiarity, and Accountability)

How to Cultivate Positive Engagement & Motivation In A Networked Team:

This is the challenge any Team Leader faces. It requires the need to use a variety of techniques and methodologies to ensure your Networked Team is engaged and performing at an optimal level. This requires the pursuit of “hygiene factors” and “motivators”. They are different and should not be confused, but both are necessary.

Hygiene Factors for Networked Teams should not be downplayed as unimportant. They are mission critical for any networked team to work effectively. If they are missing, the team will underperform.
Motivators for Networked Teams are what fuels team, personal motivation and commitment. There needs to be a balance between personal and team motivators that are aligned and interlinked to team performance.

Hygiene Factors Motivators
Good Work Conditions:
On Location or at Home including: The Built Environment / Lighting / Seating / Ambience / Access to Technology / Amenities / Sound free of noises
A Sense of Achievement:
Progress is Observed, Measured and Shared / Good Performance is known & understood / Proactively Resolving Problems / Celebrated Regularly
Clear Roles & Responsibilities:
Job Descriptions / Goals / KPIs / Performance Expectations / Team Behaviours
Recognition for Achievement:
Team & Personal based / Publicly & Privately acknowledged / Behaviour Based
A Sense of Belonging:
Team Culture / Reporting Structures / Authorities / Team Disciplines / Recognition
Autonomy for Decision Making:
Solve Problems / Empowered & Authorised to make decisions / Capable
Commitment to Wellbeing:
OH&S / Safety / Family Health / Mental Health / Community Safety / Social Justice
Consistent Feedback Loops:
Symbolism is Everything / What is Measured is Done / Positive Shaping / Timely
Pursuit of Learning & Development:
Approach to Adult Learning / On the Job Development / Continually Evolving / Training
Sense of Belonging:
Feedback Valued / Attributes Acknowledged / Gratitude Expressed / Personable Team
Communications:
Structured / Feedback loops closed / Team Based / Open & Ongoing / Two Way / Encouraged
Great Team Chemistry:
Sense of Fun – Purpose – Focus – Familiarity – Team Disciplines – Desired Behaviours(known)
Performance Monitoring:
Meaningful measures / Aligned as a team – no silos  / Personal v Team / Linked to Business Plan – Budget / Reviewed Regularly / Adaptable
Authentic Leadership:
People don’t leave bad organisations – they leave bad managers. A Positive V Toxic culture is the responsibility of the Leader

Speed & Agility is a MUST for Networked Teams:

Buyer behaviour, how people work and where people work has changed forever. Agile teams are an outcome of how teams are led and how they are engaged. The new norm of uncertainty and ambiguity will require any team to be agile, aligned, and proactive to the inevitable opportunities, risks and emerging trends that will occur. Technology means the make-up of any networked team can be anywhere on the planet. A leader will not only be required to communicate effectively, they will also need to influence, inspire, connect, align, and motivate a diverse networked team.

The Three A’s = A Leaders Responsibility and a Networked Teams Quest:

Accountability, Agility & Alignment does not grow on trees or happen by accident. This is the Leader’s domain, and a test of a Leaders ability:

  1. Accountability: Has three components. 
    1. Firstly, a clear and unambiguous goal or set of desired outcomes
    2. Secondly, clear expectations of timeframes and who is involved (understood by all team members)
    3. Finally, permissions and authority to act, which is set by the Leader in a clear way
  2. Agility: This starts by the team having a predisposition to focus outwardly on the World around them, rather than inwardly. The team dynamic must be focused on a sustained and persistent pursuit of opportunities, and performance improvement. It requires many eyes, clear metrics and an expectation driven by the Leader
  3. Alignment: No Silos. The front end of the business must be aligned, connected, and engaged with the back end. This starts by having a clear and united set of performance metrics (dashboard) that measures the performance delivery of any set of upfront promises and commitments 

Finally, Engage Your Networked Team on How They Will Work Together:

It is important for the team to have a say and a shared sense of how they will effectively work together. After all, every team member has an equal responsibility for the healthy dynamics of the team. Some suggestions to explore with the team (co-located and remote) include:

  • Establish an agreed team code on how they will work together. Keep it simple & practical so it can be remembered and enforced.
  • Agree a disciplined set of meeting rituals, communication mechanisms and check ins
  • Develop regular inclusive team & socialisation activities to build familiarity
  • Host regular open meetings and 1:1 check ins with no agenda other than to check in and allow a Q&A process (what is revealed is often surprising and informative)
  • Allocate team projects that will improve the performance of the business, with clear boundaries, expectations, considerations, and timelines

COVID has required a rethink on the nature and definitions of the workplace. Simply going back to the way we were before COVID is not an option. Blending the best of the old and new Worlds is what is required. Indeed, this phenomena will need to be applied not just in Workplaces, but also in Education, Government, Community Services and Families. 

Being co-located or remote is not an “either – or” decision. It is now the new reality. Networked teams will be a normal approach to life. Technology has enabled this. We will forever now be a Networked……Workplace – Family – School – University – Community Group – Friendship Group

Welcome to the New Normal.

David Stewart
Facta, Non Verba – Deeds, Not Words

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