From catching up with my coaching colleagues a common theme that keeps coming up is that CEOs and senior leaders are struggling to build or maintain a sense of culture within their teams or across their organisation. While it is a new world, a lot of the skills leaders possess can be easily transferred to this new world. The problem is that in the majority of cases these skills are simply just tweaking the basics. Why is this a problem? Because, and I really hate to say it, very few leaders out there actually do the basics very well if at all.
When it comes to building and maintaining a team culture in a hybrid world, here are some things to consider. As you’ll see there’s nothing extraordinary about them but their importance becomes heightened when working in a hybrid model.
Firstly, some research… Research at IBM, during the height of the pandemic, has shown that 75% of people prefer remote working as their primary method of working. It also demonstrates that remote teams are more productive and more engaged… when properly managed. That last part is important, ‘when properly managed’. Think about it, where do you go when you ‘really’ need to get work done? When I ask this question in my Leading from Anywhere workshop, most people say they prefer to work from home. Is this true for you?
As teams move from the more traditional in-office environment to that of a remote working environment, organisational culture, as an overarching influence, becomes less relevant to individuals and therefore the importance of an individual team culture becomes more relevant.
The importance of focusing on culture increases exponentially when working in a hybrid environment because the responsibility of culture transfers from being at an organisational level to that of the team level. This is where it needs to be driven from. Because people are at home and spending less time at the office their sense of connection with the organisation can become significantly reduced over time; therefore, extra effort to maintain a sense of culture needs to be driven at the team level. To get you thinking along the right lines, three elements that need to be considered when building a team culture in this type of environment are:
- Creating a Shared Understanding
- Creating a Shared Identity
- Creating a Shared Purpose
Let’s explore these a little…
Creating a Shared Understanding
A shared understanding refers to the extent to which members of the team have a commonly held perspective on the team’s expertise, assigned tasks, context, and preferences. Different members of the team have different skills, abilities, and knowledge; therefore, the chances of being misunderstood or misinterpreted are higher in a remote team environment. Put simply, what we’re looking for here is for opportunities where each team member can learn more about the others on the team.
Creating a Shared Identity
A shared identity refers to the extent to which team members feel the same sense of who they are as a designated group. It indicates whether or not individual members truly feel like this is the team they’re a part of and most loyal to. Research in the social sciences has demonstrated that who we identify with strongly influences our own personal sense of identify and behaviour. Furthermore, it reduces conflict, standardises norms of behaviour, increases cohesion and collaboration which all, ultimately, enhances team performance.
Creating a Shared Purpose
A shared purpose refers to the extent to which members of the team are aligned to the same mission or outcome. Everybody wants to have a purpose, not only in their personal life but also in work – it gives them a sense that their job is truly important; it gives them a sense of meaning. More and more these days people don’t want to join an organisation, they want to join a crusade! They want to be a part of something important and worthwhile.
If you’re struggling to build a strong cohesive culture due to the hybrid working model thinking about what the culture of your team could look like in relation to the points above will get you started in the right direction.
If you’d like to know more about how to develop a high performing team in a hybrid working environment, or if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you become a better leader (of others or yourself!), or even if you’re just generally curious about what professional coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.
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