17 Nov Developing High Performing Teams Remotely
We are all a little tired of this situation – the “new” normal, working remotely, virtual everything.
Our high performing teams are turning into fragmented high performing individuals that are detached, some barely tolerating their colleagues.
Working remotely has put a strain on all teams. Whether they are teams made up of individuals with mutually exclusive objectives, or teams where everyone relies on each other to reach the objectives. We interact when we need to on virtual platforms and we spend most of that time multitasking. Why? Because we can.
Can you relate to this?
I’ve been working recently with different kinds of teams and the common culprit has been a deterioration of trust and connection with our teams. We used to connect with our team members on a regular, informal basis. We learned about their work projects but also gained insight into their personal lives by just being around them in an office environment. We knew our teammates and we developed trust.
All of that has been taken away. If we consider Lencioni’s model of the five dysfunctions of a team, the foundation layer that prevents teams from performing is a lack of trust. To build team foundations, we need to rediscover our team and create trust. We all wear various masks in our professional lives, getting past these masks allows us to see people for who they really are. Leadership retreats where participants face physical challenges, like ropes courses or jumping off tall structures, are designed to create windows where we see people without their masks. Facing fears lets others see our genuine selves, a place where we can truly connect with others. Unfortunately, leadership retreats or team building activities only succeed in doing a few things. They open the door to creating trust, but they don’t anchor in that trust with the team.
Do we need to take our team to Sedona to accomplish this? Do we need to head up north to a cabin for 3 days with masks while we social distance? Of course not
Teams are relationships and, in any relationship, each of us bring our own baggage and history to the table.
We have little chance of creating deep trust with our colleagues without doing some real work on ourselves. If I have an issue with authority figures and I perceive my colleague as trying to tell me how to do my job, it will be hard for me to develop any real and authentic relationship. It starts with self-awareness and a willingness to be vulnerable with people.
Creating trust in a team is a multi-pronged approach.
First, bring the team together virtually in an activity that will start to open the door to remove our masks and create trust.
Second, work with each individual separately to help them become more self-aware of their own issues that are impacting the team dynamic.
Third, continue to look for opportunities to reinforce the human side of the team.
Fourth, lead by example. When I said lead by example, that means getting vulnerable with your team as a leader, working on your own baggage, and leaning into your team so you are not on an island.
All of those 4 things don’t require a vaccine, face to face conversations, or a campfire singing kumbaya. They do however require focus and perseverance because high performing teams don’t happen overnight