Creating High Functioning Teams in the COVID-19 Era
Holly DePalma |
It’s an ideology we’ve been taught since grade school. Teamwork makes the dream work. Talent wins games, teamwork wins championships. From trite mantras scrolled across locker room walls, to powerful boardroom speeches, the team construct has long been held as the prototype for success. And with good reason. In the workplace specifically, well-designed teams have proven to increase innovation, output, and profitability.
As COVID-19 continues to impact the way you do business, collaboration is mission-critical. But when it comes to a adopting a team-based philosophy, paying lip service isn’t enough. You must build well-oiled machines. Let’s explore why your organization’s success hinges on the creation of high-functioning teams and how we can help.
The world is flat.
The world of work, that is. COVID-19 has reminded us just how fluid and unpredictable the actual world can be. As a workforce leader, you have to be ready to change course on a dime to keep pace with workflow trends and challenges. There’s a host of reasons why the traditional hierarchy is being dismantled and replaced with a team-based model:
- Connectivity. Business across all industries has become global and cross-functional, leading to the breakdown of silos.
- Pace. The speed with which business is being conducted—largely due to an Internet-based economy— requires an all-hands-on-deck approach to problem solving and knowledge sharing.
- Workforce Shift. As the sun sets on Baby Boomers in the workplace, Millennials are arriving in droves and bringing their penchant for collaboration and sense of shared responsibility with them.
- Supply Chain Logistics. From procurement to cash flow, a top-down model is no longer conducive for managing the complexity of today’s high-octane distribution networks.
From healthcare and retail to manufacturing and education, companies of all sizes are adopting a team-centric organizational structure. Why? High-functioning teams allow their members to leverage best practices while building community and trust. These conditions lead to increased job satisfaction and retention. In fact, in an industry where turnover can reach a whopping 100%, grocery giant Whole Foods has maintained an impressive rate of 10%, which CEOs John McKay and Raj Sisodia attribute to the company’s team-based structure.
Simply put, in today’s climate, a flatter, team-centric structure can help your company increase responsiveness, exchange information quickly, and improve customer service, all to the benefit of your bottom line. It’s no wonder the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% over the past 20 years.
Strong coaches lead strong teams.
You’ve assessed your needs, hired top talent, and designed teams accordingly. Now you can sit back and watch the magic unfold, right? If only if were that easy. Failing to address a dysfunctional team dynamic will cost you. Literally. Did you know that up to 50% of teams fail to achieve their goal? Lost productivity means lost revenue and likely employee dissatisfaction. And turnover is expensive. In fact, replacing just one senior-level employee can cost your organization a staggering $40,000.
So how can you pre-empt team dysfunction? Start with strong leadership. A high-functioning team needs an astute leader with the coaching skills to diagnose deficiencies and improve synergy. Common pitfalls of an ill-equipped team leader include:
- Designing a homogenous team. A team comprised of individuals with the same skill set, same work style, and same personality sounds like a slam-dunk in theory. But in reality it can be a recipe for dysfunction. A surplus of similar strengths and similarweaknesses can lead to a breakdown in communication and performance.
- Mixing new blood with old. In a well-intentioned attempt to mesh new and eager high achievers with current all-stars, a manager often learns that failure to assess the team dynamic holistically and forecast potential friction can result in significant conflict.
These are just a few of the scenarios that play out when team leaders lack the necessary insights to evaluate dynamics and build teams around compatible personalities, communication styles, and performance motivators. Providing robust leadership training for your managers is a great way to insulate your organization—and its bottom line— from the impact of team dysfunction.
So, there is an ‘i’ in ‘team’.
Craving more teamwork sayings? I thought so. Team is an acronym for ‘together everybody achieves more’. While true, this saying—like most— ignores one of the most critical components of team success: the individual.
The key to building productive and harmonious groups is honing in on the background, behavioral traits, and communication and learning styles of each individual and understanding how they apply within the context of a team. Identifying congruent, complementary, and conflicting traits among your teams’ members is paramount in forecasting performance outcomes and team dynamics. While time-consuming, conducting this in-depth analysis will prove invaluable in the long run.
Let’s design your dream team.
It’s clear that a team-based organizational structure is fundamental to problem-solving and driving progress in today’s business climate. But don’t leave it to guesswork. Contact us today and let MEA’s team of training and talent experts help you build a network of high-functioning and high-performing teams.