by Buhle Dlamini & Graeme Codrington
If the success of your business relies on teams working effectively together, the 2020s promise to be some of the most challenging years you’ve ever experienced. The nature of teamwork is changing significantly: building, developing and holding teams together, while improving productivity, engagement and profitability are tougher now than ever.
The Covid pandemic forced many organisations into work practices they might have previously resisted. What most people don’t realise is that these shifts were coming anyway. Driven by a variety of different forces, the future of work was always going to become more flexible, more hybrid, more tech-enabled and more adaptable. It was also already becoming more global, more diverse, more multi-generational and more complex.
As we learn to live with Covid – and hopefully some day, post-Covid – the need to develop new approached to workplace practice has never been more urgent than it is now. We need to examine how we measure productivity, how we motivate our staff – and ourselves – how we lead and manage teams, and how we think about the future of work. The most successful workplaces of the next few years will be those that are prepared to rethink and unlearn how they work, and put in place experiments that allow for constant upgrades and adaptability.
This is more than just thinking about ‘getting back to work after Covid’. It’s about how we set up our workplaces and teams for success in the rest of the 2020s, and how we create and nurture environments that deliver on innovation, creativity, resilience, wellbeing and productivity, all while dealing with digital transformation, a global war for talent, disruptive change, diversity, equity & inclusion, and new generations in the workplace.
The team at TomorrowToday Global has identified five key ingredients of thriving teams that will help any leader and team member to navigate these challenges.
The five key ingredients are: Belonging, Mastery, Autonomy, Generosity and Purpose.
This document provides a summary of our research findings, and specific applications to a hybrid working world. It is meant as a white paper primer, and not a comprehensive manual. As you work through it, you’ll find that we give you a good start and point you in the right direction, but there is a lot more for you to think about and do than we have included in this summary.
For more information and for assistance on how to apply these ingredients in your team and organisation, contact TomorrowToday.
Research into Healthy Teams in a Hybrid World
There are many models of team dynamics, employee engagement and leadership. No doubt, your business has some formalised competency framework that allows you and your teams to have structured conversations and book training programs to develop these key areas of your business.
We do not want our work here to replace any of your existing frameworks and models. Instead, we see our contribution as giving you five key ingredients to add to your ‘recipe’ that will give it added flavour and appeal.
We have drawn our work from many well-known existing models that may be familiar to you, and which all are deserving of some of your time – even if just to refresh yourself on their key findings and proposals.
- Dan Pink, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” (this is the book title, and he has a great TED and RSA animation video on the topic)
- Patrick Lencioni, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”
- Ricardo Semler, especially his books, “Maverick” and “The Seven-Day Weekend”, and his ongoing work at https://semcostyle.com/, The Semco Style Institute for the future of work
- The research of Prof Nick Bloom from Stanford, and his work on hybrid teams (which goes back to 2010 and before), and his various academic papers and TED talks
- Dr Martin Brokenleg and Dr Larry Brendtro’s work on The Circle of Courage, a model adapted from Canadian First Nation community building
- Steve Simpson and Stef du Plessis’s work on Unwritten Ground Rules
- David Livermore’s work on Cultural Intelligence (CQ)
- Prof Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s six keys for leading positive change
- Various corporate case studies of “hybrid only” and “hybrid first” structures, especially work by Matt Mullenweg of WordPress and Tony Hseih of Zappos.
We have also brought our own experience to this work. Our company, TomorrowToday was founded in 2002, and has always been virtual. We’ve never paid a cent or penny in rentals, despite having hundreds of employees and associates across four continents and literally 22 time zones during our two decades. We know what it is like to live and work virtual, hybrid and flexible lives, and have been inspiring and assisting our clients to learn to do this for a long time.
The research is clear;
The lived experience of those who get this right is unambiguous:
Teams that create a sense of connectedness, that are filled with individuals who are competent and confident in their contributions, and who are trusted to deliver the outputs required of them while also demonstrating a commitment to helping others do the same, will attract, retain and get the best from people, and will be able to contribute to those people living fulfilled and purposeful lives. These teams will be more productive, more profitable, more creative and more resilient than teams that don’t build these five solid foundations.
The Five Ingredients of Healthy Teams
An organisation’s goal should be to make every member of the team feel included, accepted and able to contribute fully. Belonging in the workplace means creating an environment in which employees are candid and comfortable, bringing their whole selves to work. The primary drivers of belonging are personal connections, psychological safety, appreciation, and rituals, routines and rhythms.
Why is this so important: belonging and psychological safety lead to inclusion and meaningful engagement in the workplace, which are key drivers of performance, discretionary effort and innovation. Not belonging, on the other hand, is among the strongest predictors of turnover: people are more likely to leave a job when they feel like they don’t belong, especially in a hybrid work environment.
A key part of belonging is your feeling of connectedness with other people in a group, tribe, family, club or team. When we are face-to-face this often happens through informal interactions, personal conversations and chats. In a virtual or hybrid environment, we have to be more intentional to ensure these connections are created.
Hybrid teams take a lot more effort for leaders to build these connections, requiring you to schedule regular check in meetings, individually with each team member. You should also encourage the team to connect with each other one on one, for virtual coffee chats, lunches or quick-fire checkins. Here are some ideas:
- Schedule regular (once per week is ideal) “connection only” meetings, where the team has opportunities to get to know each other beyond their work requirements. Share the responsibility for organising these connection times, and encourage creativity and variety in the approaches taken.
- For hybrid and virtual teams, consider getting together face-to-face for the specific purpose of personal connection. This needs to go well beyond the old “team building” exercises, that often ended up just being fun (and cheesy, and ultimately boring) games, but should rather be focused on learning something about your colleagues and teammates.
- For your hybrid meetings and team sessions, digital must be the default, rather than physical – for example, use a digital tool to get answers to questions, even from people who are in the room. Make sure collaboration can easily be done online and that it is inclusive and accessible to everyone.
- Personality profiles, likes and dislikes, learning styles, interests, achievements outside of work, family background, hobbies, dreams and goals… these are good things to share – as much as people are comfortable with – in order to find the personal connections between each other.
- Ideas for connection meetings:
- Share a snippet of your favourite song. See if others can guess it.
- Do a personality profile, and share results with each other. Finish these sentences: “To get the best out of me, you should…”; “I find it really irritating when other people…”; and, “My best contribution to a stressful project is…”.
Provide a subject and people indicate their best and worst of these (e.g. places they’ve visited, food, sports team, etc).
- Google will help you find hundreds of “ice breaking activities” for teams. Adapt them to suit your team’s style.
It is beyond the scope of this document to deal with this vital issue in detail, but no doubt you’re familiar with the concept of psychological safety. It is a shared belief held by members of a team that others on the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish them for contributing ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes to the team.
In most teams, this culture is determined by how leaders react and respond to team members, and is often linked to diversity – it is most likely to be minorities in the team that feel a lack of psychological safety. In hybrid teams, it is even easier for someone to feel as if their voice is unimportant.
The Centre for Creative Leadership suggests five things that leaders can do to promote psychological safety:
- Make psychological safety an explicit priority – it need to be talked about, modeled and rewarded.
- Facilitate everyone speaking up. This is especially true when someone challenges the status quo – make sure they are listened to with an open and compassionate approach.
- Establish norms for how failure is handled. Don’t punish experimentation, but rather eencourage learning from failure and disappointment, openly sharing your hard-won lessons learned from mistakes.
- Create space for new ideas (even wild ones).
- Embrace productive conflict. Promote dialogue and productive debate, and work to resolve conflicts productively. With your team, discuss the following questions:
- How will team members communicate their concerns about a process that isn’t working?
- How can reservations be shared with colleagues in a respectful manner?
- What are our norms for managing conflicting perspectives?
Rituals, Routines and Rhythms:
Building belonging in your hybrid teams also requires a sense of continuity, predictability and structure that can come from activities that your team shares in regularly. These create comfort in routine, as well as expectation and excitement through anticipation.
- Rituals are symbolic shared experiences that strengthen bonding, morale, culture, communication, and a sense of belonging through consistent repetition. Team rituals are an excellent way to celebrate culture, celebrate people and celebrate projects. These could include how you celebrate birthdays and special occasions, or an ‘employee of the month’ ceremony.
- Routines speak to the ‘way we do things around here’ or regular activities that take place. In a virtual world it is important to have some routines that are easy to follow, consistent so that they give the team a sense of safety and psychological comfort. Regular activities go a long way to ensure that your team is connected and inspired, which adds to productivity and innovation overall. This might be how you start each meeting, for example, or what happens at the beginning of every week.
- Rhythms are the ebb and flow of life throughout the year, with events that people look forward to. This includes annual cultural events (such as religious or national holidays) and the various cycles of work during the year.
Belonging is the starting point for all team development. Without it, none of the other elements will improve team functioning. This is the right place to start (although, as we will say later, you don’t need to perfect Belonging before moving onto the next element).
Mastery is the sense of confidence and competence that people have in their contributions, knowing that they have the skills to do what needs to be done and the desire to get better and better at what they do. This comes from development, growth, feedback, recognition and support.
Why this is important: When there is a sense of mastery in a team, people know they have the skills to do what needs to be done, and they are excited to improve and contribute to the team’s success. A lack of competence can lead to errors and low quality, while a lack of confidence can lead to sub-par performance, a lack of proactivity and initiative, and a general sense of apathy.
Think of your top 5 “Best Days at Work Ever”. No, seriously, pause and take a moment to build that list in your mind….
Almost everyone who does this will be thinking of days when you ‘knocked it out the park’, days when you made a real contribution at work, and probably when you were noticed, rewarded and recognised for that contribution. Every employee engagement model highlights these factors as vital for ensuring your people are committed and give their best at work.
In a hybrid environment, the elements that sustain mastery are often the first to disappear. Companies stop doing training, they tone down their recognition programs and they only give corrective feedback. You need to do exactly the opposite and dial mastery-builders UP, not down. Just as we saw above with Belonging, you need to be more deliberate and intentional with creating ‘Mastery Moments’ when your team is hybrid.
Consider doing the following (and once you’ve done all of these things, keep adding to this list – you can never do enough mastery building):
- Encourage your team to sign up for a short online course, and to share their learnings with the team once they’ve completed it. Consider providing a small budget for this if the courses are not free. Do not require the content to be directly linked to their work. Try and make this a habit (so that once they’ve finished one course, you encourage them to do another).
- Create a shared document for the whole team, with a block or page for each team member. When someone in the team does something good or valuable, go to this document and write a short thank you note. Two or three times a month, make sure everyone accesses the document during a team meeting, and take a few minutes to recognise each other’s contributions.
- As a team leader, make sure you are taking a lead in giving regular feedback to team members.
- Find ways to recognise team members’ contributions, including ‘employee of the week’, ‘great idea of the month’ and similar accolades.
- Focus especially on juniors and new joiners. Consider getting the team together face to face for a period of time when bringing new people into the team, and to help kickstart new joiners’ contributions and connections.
- Encourage team members to have virtual coffee/tea times with each other. This will enhance belonging, but also encourage them to use the time for meaningful engagement, support and encouragement – leading to more motivation amongst your team.
- You can also schedule specific times during the week where everyone joins a meeting (either face to face or online) with the express purpose of asking and answering each other’s work related questions.
- You could use an app or shared document to help you do this on a more ad hoc basis as well.
- Provide online collaboration tools that encourage working together.
- Have individual growth and development plans for each team member. As a leader you need to consider how you will help your team grow this year.
- Consider providing resources to help people gain mastery in other aspects of their lives, especially in regards to mental health, physical wellbeing and financial issues. Create opportunities for counselling, support for parents and coaching where necessary.
In a hybrid workplace, one of the factors holding people back from better contribution is their technology. This includes what they have access to at home, on the road and what hybrid-friendly technology exists at the office. We need to ensure that they have the necessary tools to function at their best, and are confident in their use of the various mobile and remote technologies that they might need.
As a team leader it is part of your responsibility to make sure that everyone in your team has everything they need from a technological perspective to do their job to the fullest. But individuals in your team should also take some responsibility to sort these issues out. There are four main areas of technology you should focus on mastering: hardware, software, access, and skills.
- Hardware includes having a laptop and mobile phone capable of doing what needs to be done, a good microphone and headphones, lighting, a webcam if needed, as well as printer, scanner, backup solutions, etc.
- Software includes everything including cloud storage, apps and virtual communication tools.
- Access is about data connectivity (including the speed and stability of internet access), backup electrical supply, and any security infrastructure required to ensure secure and constant connections.
- Skills are the soft skills required to deal with all of the above.
Digital transformation is going to create ever more disruption throughout the coming decade, so rather than delaying, let’s get on this and learn how to master the technology and best provide our teams with the skills they need to become masters.
When people ask for flexibility, most of them really want autonomy. Autonomy is the desire to direct our own lives, and the ability to make decisions, solve problems, exhibit personal responsibility and self-discipline. Autonomy should only be given to people who demonstrate Mastery, and in a team context who have a sense of Belonging and Generosity as well. Even if you cannot offer people flexibility, you can definitely improve their experience of autonomy.
Why this is important: Without autonomy, people will not be proactive or take initiative, rather waiting to be told what to do. If we are being treated like children, being micromanaged at every turn, we are not going to do the work that needs to be done, nor will we progress or master anything.
Autonomy is important because without it, we cannot develop trust. The importance of trusting your team adds drastically to the functioning of your team.
One of the most powerful frameworks for giving autonomy to your team is presented by David Marquet in his book, “Turn the Ship Around”. We highly recommend it, or at least watching one of the many YouTube videos he’s recorded (here are our favourites – here and a slightly longer one – here). Marquet talks about intent-based leadership, where we empower people by helping them understand the big picture and what we are trying to achieve, then pass psychological intent to them by asking them what they intend to do (rather than telling them what to do), give control to them, and finally focus on providing the resources (or “mastery” if you prefer) that they need to succeed. These four areas are critical when considering autonomy.
In a hybrid environment, building autonomy and trust looks slightly different than when face to face, but the basic principles are the same. Here are some important starting points, but as we’ve said above, start wherever you can and keep coming up with new ways to do this – it’s never too early to start, and you can never do enough (the more you do, the better it is):
- Get rid of red tape and bureaucracy. Simplify processes.
- Help your team to know what decision rights they have, aligning authority with responsibility. When they ask you for permission for something they could have decided for themselves, refuse to give an answer. Rather, ask them to take responsibility for the decision and report back to you later.
- Consider how things are measured (productivity, efficiency, etc) and why? Does this work in a hybrid work space?
- Unless absolutely necessary for their work, don’t insist on people working ‘office hours’. At worst, move to a ‘core hours’ approach, rather than sticking to traditional ‘9-to-5’ mentality. Some people do their best work in the early hours of the morning, others late at night – make sure people know that this is acceptable.
- As much as possible, shift to an outputs-driven culture, where you don’t measure the hours people work (assuming you’re not overworking them already), but rather focus on their deliverables.
- You will probably need to increase the frequency of communication and ‘check ins’. Giving people autonomy does not mean that anything goes and people are just left to their own devices to do as they please. It means you trust them to work out their own ways of working. But you might want to ensure that there is psychological safety and strong two-way communication in the team.
- You will also need to allow for some mistakes – or at least some diversity of approaches, as not everyone will do things the way you would have done them.
- Give your people as much authority to make their own decisions as possible. You cannot wait for your team to be more proactive and take initiative before giving them authority. In this “chicken and egg” situation, we know what comes first: you have to take a deep breath and start giving people autonomy. Maybe a few bits at a time, but it starts with you choosing to trust them, or it doesn’t start at all. Go ahead and try it. You might be surprised that people give you exactly what you expect them to – so expect them to handle autonomy brilliantly, and see what happens.
A Word About Trust
The more autonomy you want to give people, the more you need trust to be at the heart of your relationships. Paradoxically, this means that you need to spend more time building relationships with them: less time managing, more time connecting; less time supervising, more time engaging; less time reducing disagreements, more time increasing psychological safety.
The problem is that in digital and hybrid settings, relationships can become transactional – and thereby less trusting. To develop trust, which will allow autonomy, you need relationship.
Trusting relationships will motivate people to work together to solve hard problems and are the currency of all healthy work relationships, whether virtual or face-to-face. It’s a two-way street: You must be trustworthy and also demonstrate trust in your teammates. The two most effective way to do both is by practicing vulnerability and enabling psychological safety when others do the same. Apologize when you’re wrong, admit when you don’t know an answer, give people space to have differences of opinion, allow people to make mistakes and help them fix the problems, and let others get to know you on a human level at work.
The last item on that list is more important than ever in a hybrid world. When we talk about autonomy, we don’t mean that you create a “go it alone” workplace. In fact, you need to spend more time showing an active interest in getting to know others, and allowing them to get to know you. What are your colleagues’ passions outside the office? What are they struggling with? What are they looking forward to? Celebrate their wins and support them during difficult times.
Additional ways to build trust and psychological safety include assuming good intent, communicating regularly, being consistent and reliable. Be the team member whom others can count on to be direct, honest and get the job done and done well.
In the context of our ingredients, generosity is not about giving money to charity (although working for a company that is generous to its community is motivating). It’s about a spirit of generosity towards the team. This means we care for and are invested in the lives of our co-workers and colleagues.
Generosity is a necessary ingredient of a healthy team. There’s a danger if you build peoples’ mastery to the point they’re super-confident in their abilities, and then give them autonomy to self-direct their work, you could end up with a bunch of extraordinary individuals all saying, “just leave me alone to deliver my work, and get out of my way because I am the only one that matters.” This may be valuable in certain contexts and on some projects, but it certainly isn’t a team. If you need your team to succeed, then you need your best people to have mastery, autonomy AND a sense of generosity towards the rest of the team.
Why this is important: A spirit of generosity is the glue that holds a team of super-performers together, and ensures that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. It also ensures that the team will grow and develop into the future, and that juniors and new joiners are integrated into the team.
Generosity will be evidenced by mentoring, reverse mentoring, covering for people having a tough time along with empathy and care for them as people, a desire to see others succeed, discretionary effort when it is required by the team, and camaraderie and celebration when times are good.
To build a spirit of generosity in your team, we suggest you focus on four key areas: wellbeing, mentoring, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and storytelling.
Most people have had significant additional stress added to their lives during Covid. This is not going to go away, as we face constant disruption, pressure and a ‘big squeeze’ on cost of living for the rest of the decade. We need to shift our focus from productivity and efficiency to ‘peak performance’. This is an approach borrowed from the world of professional sport, where athletes know they have limited ability to be at their very best, and need to balance those moments of maximum effort with periods of recovery, relaxation, training and development. These periods are part of their jobs, and not relegated to evenings, weekends and ‘your own account’.
In the second half of 2022, a global experiment is underway across 16 countries, with nearly a million people working 4 day weeks. Dubai has shifted to a 4.5 day working week, with all public employees finishing their week at Friday lunch time. At TomorrowToday, we are certain that the results of these experiments will indicate that giving people more recovery time will improve their wellbeing, engagement, contribution and productivity significantly. (We are also certain that the bosses of many big corporates and the journalists who like to write about them will find ways to undermine what is obvious to the rest of us.
You need to experiment to find out what works and is appropriate in your business. Here are some ideas we’ve seen work at different clients:
- Shortened meetings. Don’t schedule your meetings for the full half hour or hour (or longer increments). Rather, schedule 20 minute and 45 minute meetings, giving people a gap between them. Also, don’t start these meetings on the hour (you’ll be tempted to eat into the buffer you’ve created) – rather start them at five or ten past the hour. Ensure that everyone on your team understands why you’ve schedule the meetings this way.
- No agenda meetings. Schedule time for your team to just be together. To make this worthwhile – rather than weird – be deliberate about using some of this time to focus on wellbeing issues, maybe with some workshops that add personal value to people (e.g. healthy eating, parenting, photography).
- Easy Fridays. You might not give everyone a 4-day working week, but you can take one day each week where there are no meetings, where you deliberately try and reduce emails and messages, and you let people ‘take it easy’.
- Give people their birthdays off. As a ‘free’ day of leave. (And if someone’s birthday falls over a public holiday, then let them nominate another day in the year to take off.)
- Check in with people regularly about their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Mentoring, development and networking
Young team members often need to be mentored, and engaged with on their development, in hybrid teams. Older, senior team members should be encouraged to create opportunities to share advice, mentor younger members, and help your team in their learning and progress towards mastery.
Younger people can also be ‘reverse-mentors’ by helping older people with themes such as technology skills, understanding marketplace demographics, and how to improve the team’s diversity and inclusion. Different generations have a lot to learn from each other.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)
DEI are a big part of organisational success in today’s workplace, especially if we want to increase a spirit of generosity amongst our teams. DEI also leads to more success in innovation, productivity, creativity and reslience. Diverse teams that are inclusive will always outperform homogenous teams in the metrics that businesses know are important for long term success.
Some ways to model generosity in your team:
- Leading with heart. Model care and genuine concern for team members and encourage them to do the same for each other. This is how we bring generosity into practice. We need to go out of our way, specifically in this hybrid space, to show our care and compassion. What are you doing to show that you care? It’s often in the small things that people remember.
- Invite honest expression. Create an environment where people speak freely. If not all the time, at least create opportunities for honest talk on a regular basis. Tell it to me straight, so that we can do something about it. Having a sense of psychological safety in the workplace can also enable people to speak their thoughts freely.
- Active Listening. Create an environment where team members genuinely listen to what is being said and also not said and encourage questioning for clarity. Leaders need to model this and call on their teams to really listen.
- Recognise that diversity in your hybrid team is not only about race, culture or orientation, but that it’s also about diversity of working contexts and approaches, driven by many factors including personality, life stage, education, marital status, religion and more. Make sure you are being inclusive of this – taking into account how people are working, where they are coming from and whether they feel they can access and contribute to the team.
- The mindset needs to be about levelling the playing field and including everyone.
We don’t mean fairytales – we mean using narrative as a tool for connecting and communication. Storytelling in this sense helps team members connect on a deeper level, as well as create opportunities for learning about others and their experiences. This form of engaging with one another also helps to minimise divisions created by race, gender, orientation, ability and socio-economic differences. Once you know someone’s story it is harder to hold on to preconceived stereotypes and prejudices brought on by unconscious biases. Storytelling creates space for radical empathy and connection.
Finally, let’s not ignore the obvious meaning of “generosity”. Charity work and looking outwards are still deeply impactful parts of generosity. There are ways to get everyone in your team to volunteer with one another and align their interests with the organisation. Don’t think that generosity isn’t about giving back. Healthy Hybrid Teams should be looking to contribute to society and communities.
When we say, “Purpose is important for teams”, we don’t mean your company’s “Vision, Mission, Values” and so on (as important as those are), rather it’s about how your peoples’ own personal life goals and ambitions align with what they do everyday. This ingredient of purpose is about what the individuals in your teams want out of their lives, and how to ensure that working for you helps them live their best life.
It’s a mindset shift to see it this way, but we believe that your employees have already made this shift. The divide between ‘work’ and ‘personal life’ doesn’t exist like it used to. The lines have blurred. Therefore, more than ever before, managers need to consider the whole person, and engage with professional and personal issues in tandem – not as a psychologist or counsellor, but simply to ensure healthy integration between our personal and professional lives.
Why this is important: ‘Living life on purpose’ is the best way to live life. When we feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves, we are inspired. When we feel like our lives have meaning and that we are progressing towards significant life goals, we are motivated and feel capable of overcoming obstacles and hardships. When we feel that the work we do is contributing to living our best life, we will gladly give our best at work.
Here are a few ways to begin to develop a sense of meaningful purpose:
- If you’ve done some of the suggestions above, you’ll already have built some good connections with your team. But now take some time to find out from them what three long-term goals are really important to them. This might include some family issues (such as looking after elderly parents, or educating their children), some personal goals (like saving for an overseas holiday) and some goals related to hobbies (like running a marathon or writing a book). Maybe suggest these three categories to help people share these with you. Ask how you and the organisation can assist in helping them achieve these goals.
- Have purpose conversations. What drives the people in your team as they live their lives? Speaking about purpose will help people to define their own life purpose more clearly.
- Give people the confidence and psychological safety to be honest about their thoughts on their own life purposes.
- Understand the power of leadership examples and lead with your own purpose. It will motivate you and your team going forward.
- Make sure that your team are putting their lives before their work. Yes, work is important, but it should not be the defining feature of one’s entire life. You can do this by focusing on work outputs, rather than work hours. This allows your team to be flexible, proactive and also have a better balance between their work and their personal lives.
- Practice mindfulness, taking the pressure off your team members when they need a break. The quality of your work and outputs is only as good as the quality of life that your team members have.
Finally, unleash the potential greatness in you and your team. Create your purpose. These are powerful lessons from Buhle Dlamini’s work on personal greatness.
- Be Who You Be. Embrace who you are and allow it to empower you as you find your purpose.
- Pursue Excellence. Be willing to go the extra mile.
- Live Your Values. Define how you live by what you stand for. When we live out our values, this shapes our behaviours and our interactions with others.
- Unleash a Winning Attitude. Understand that your attitude determines your approach to your life. You get to determine the ways in which react to your circumstances and the world around you.
- Re-imagine the Future. You have the power to reimagine things, to change things. Take the power of that choice into your own hands, stop making excuses and seize your dreams.
The Journey is the Destination: How to Apply the Five Ingredients to Your Team
There is a lot more that can be said about these five ingredients, but what you’ve seen above is more than enough to get you started. There are three things for you to do with this now:
1. Get your whole team involved
The whole point of this framework is to improve your team – not just productivity and effectiveness, but engagement, enjoyment and team dynamics as well. The worst thing you can do is for you to make all the decisions about these five ingredients yourself and merely inform your team what will happen next. You need to be consultative as a leader, sharing the framework with them and getting their inputs on what is working well and what needs to be improved. Work together as a team to improve how the team works.
Once you’ve done an initial workshop with the team to explain the framework and what you’d like to do together, allocate a short 15 minute slot in a team meeting twice a month to talk about team development. Take 5 minutes to review any issues and experiments from the previous week (what did we do? What worked? What didn’t work? Why?). Take 5 minutes to have a team member talk about the value of one of the ingredients. Take the final 5 minutes to discuss ways you can improve that ingredient, and select an experiment to try over the next two weeks.
The biggest mistake we see companies making right now is that people think they can think themselves into a different future. Someone suggests an idea, someone else thinks about it (briefly) and declares that “it will never work”, or even worse “we tried that before and it didn’t work”, and then the boss says, “No”. Other companies go ahead with change, but instead of A-B testing things, set new policies (like “you have to be in the office 3 days a week”) without testing how these new policies will work in practice. We live in unprecedented times, and the only way we are going to work out what to do is to try things. You need to build a culture of experimentation.
This doesn’t mean you need to waste lots of time and money, or put your business or people at risk. In fact, the opposite. Don’t try and come up with a few big experiments for the year – each one needing lots of resources, with danger if it goes wrong. Rather, focus on coming up with many small experiments. Each one should take just a few weeks to trial, and ideally need very little budget and no pre-approval from management. People need to be clear that it is an experiment, so that if it doesn’t work it can be undone (this point is key!). It’s as much a mindset shift as it is about finding new ways of working.
When you try an experiment, make sure you gather data, get feedback and discuss how it is going, so that your response is not just based on instinct and assumptions. Most organizations have a variety of existing tools to help shape an informed perspective, such as sales performance metrics, staff engagement or management review processes. Use these to verify what’s working and what’s not, and then decide which of your experiments you make permanent. If you’re familiar with agile methodologies, you’ll understand what we are suggesting with continual experimentation.
3. Never stop
At TomorrowToday, we say, “The journey IS the destination”. What we mean by this is that if you think you have found the perfect framework or model and you’ve implemented these ideas with your team and can now tick this off your to do list, you’ve misunderstood the assignment. The task of building a healthy team is never completed; it is always in process. Even if you find yourself in a really good space for a time, that will change, circumstances will change or it will just get stale. You need to keep improving team dynamics. All. The. Time.
So, make each of these ingredients a theme for a month at a time, rotating them twice each every year. Include these conversations in your team meetings as standing agenda items. You won’t regret the effort you put into developing healthy teams.
Remember that building a Healthy Hybrid team is not a once off, fixed situation. It’s a process that takes lots of small steps and quite frankly, the journey is never really over. In fact, the journey is the destination.
The five ingredients of a healthy team is not a new “Model of Team Dynamics”. Keep whatever models and metrics you already have, but add these five elements as “ingredients” to the mix. Use them in conversation, and encourage your team to own the conversations you need to have to improve your team.
All of these skills and concepts require a change in your mindset and a willingness to try. If you do try – even if sometimes it doesn’t work – not only will you be building a healthy hybrid team, but you will also be building a future-fit organisation that is prepared and capable to approach the future of work.
If these insights have been helpful to you, we’d love to get your feedback and would be happy to assist you further if needed. Get in touch with us at [email protected].