How’s your team’s culture?
You smile and wrap up a meeting on video-chat, face-to-face, or a bit of both and, while you can’t put your finger on it, something just doesn’t feel right.
For teams on-the-ground together, working remotely, or hybrid, there is a growing number of us experiencing “something not right”. What is making the difference between teams strengthening vs struggling through the various changes we’re navigating in our economy, workplace, and workforce?
When you can “feel it”, but not quite see it, culture is often the word we give it. Now more than ever, culture is a team-thing and how we lead in our roles and with our peers is more critical than ever.
What are the teams with the stronger cultures doing right now?
Reconnecting the disconnected
We’re constantly talking to leaders, business owners, and teams across industries. We are listening, and what we’re hearing is that some individuals and teams are feeling disconnected from the overall organisational culture. Those that have transitioned to the hybrid model of work (regular mix of remote and in-the-office work) are seeing communication primarily at the team and individual level, and less organic opportunities for people to connect with those across the organisation.
While born out of necessity (a 100 person Zoom chat is a socialising nightmare), these communication silos are recipes for cultural divides. Without proactive intervention by leaders, or team members stepping in to help by initiating connections within and across the organisation, teams are likely to develop different approaches to work that don’t align with organisational culture.
For leaders, a practical way to re-connect is to look for opportunities to initiate contact and share thanks for efforts or outcomes displayed by members in another team. Another strategy is to help team members understand how their work contributes to the strategy of the business and the community. In our upcoming webinar, we will be unpacking more practical ways to reconnect our teams.
It's all in the balance
Getting teams squared away to work remotely, dealing with change after change can be draining. The mass transition to remote work and the uncertainty created with the gradual shift into hybrid work has seen many leaders reverting either to task or relationship focus.
While taking a task focus can be useful in short bursts and in crisis moments, sustained task focus misses the crucial element of relationships that form a team’s culture. Also taking a total relationship focus can help their people overcome personal challenges brought on by COVID-19. While this connection with your team is critical, a total relationships focus doesn’t help your team to deliver. We need to lead with empathy, trust our team and have the right balance between task and relationship in order to deliver.
So how do you get this balance?
Check. Are you delivering on your results? What’s your evidence? Is your team wellbeing healthy? How are you measuring this? Are you having conversations and talking about the hard stuff? A simple check in “Are you ok, I noticed you were (insert observation you have made)?” or “how are you travelling?” (is connecting at the relationship level) or “how can I help you deliver?” or “what do you need from me to help you deliver?” (is connecting at task level).
When team’s check-in, are they sharing the full story? Does everyone feel safe to say what’s on their mind? Just as absence may not always make the heart grow fonder, nor may it increase people’s candour and openness when together. As a leader, building psychological safety in your team is the surest way to know when change is required. Even when teams are co-located achieving and maintaining psychological safety can be hard. The separation and distance between you and your team members created by remote work can make team members feel less able to raise concerns and ideas.
For leaders and our influential team members, it’s critical to find ways to role-model what psychological safety is and how we know we have it? Easy steps to share this include; sharing your own mistakes, being open, or vulnerable, with your emotions and clearly valuing input from all sources. You need to create time and space for this feedback, as it is far less likely to occur organically in our new world.