Building strong teams

by Luuk Willems

April 1, 2020

Working from home is gaining more traction now than ever before and that means the internet is full of “helpful tips on the best ways to work from home”. Although it’s already become a part of business operations for multiple companies around the world, working from home has now become the reality for almost every organization. At the very least, it’s become one of the most discussed subjects at work.

Home offices have been set up, families are better attuned to each other and the best among virtual meeting tools are being tested out. Importantly, some beautiful and innovative collaborations and unique initiatives have surfaced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Slowly, but surely, new rhythms for working are emerging as the world gets used to the new situation and a feeling of togetherness underlines all of it. Never before has the word, “team” meant more because we’re all in this new world together – as a team. The team your business operates with has always been the building block of your success. And, now, it’s imperative to discuss how you can get the best out of your employees who are mostly working remotely.

In this article, we’ll present you with some tips that are fundamental to self-organization and will help you build stronger (remote) teams – today.

Trust

Trust is the building block of the Semco Style philosophy and the basis of every collaboration. You can’t build a team without trust. As work is increasingly carried out remotely, trust becomes pivotal and, above all, more visible. So, how do you build trust?

Give your employees the confidence to do their work their way. Offering them a little more understanding and flexibility is essential in these difficult times, when people are not only working from home, but are also caring for their children full time, helping them with school work and worrying about the health of loved ones.

Also, treat your employees like adults and trust that they will take their responsibilities seriously. Give them the freedom to work when they feel they’ll be their most effective and productive. Read more about the essence of “treating adults as adults” here and learn what it can bring about in your team.

Clarity and Frameworks

Many executives believe that clarity or transparency can be detrimental to building trust – but that is a misconception. Clarity and the creation of frameworks are essential to get everyone on the same page.

First, clarify what the (short-term/ simple) goals are and decide who will take up which role and what everyone’s contribution will be to achieve the set goals. It’s also useful to determine the frameworks within which you should operate as a team. Clear frameworks provide psychological safety so that team members feel free to work in ways they consider to be the most effective. Try to keep rules as simple as possible so that your teams can push boundaries of the framework whenever necessary.

Structure and Coordination

Remote work requires structure – not just in the way people work, but also in the way they look at work-life balance. While many managers assume that this balance is often skewed against work requirements, it’s very often the other way around with people prioritizing their work over their lives.

It’s equally important to create a structure around how people stay connected with their colleagues. Provide frequent opportunities for contact by setting up daily huddles to briefly discuss the goals for the day; understand what each member needs from the others on their team; and what everyone can actively contribute within that day to get the team one step closer to its goals.

Take care not to leave out spaces for “small talk” – the friendly banter that takes place across desks or near the coffee station. This ensures that the team members stay connected with each other on a more holistic level and gain a deeper understanding of each other’s situation.

In the end, every team and organization has within itself the ingredients to create the perfect breeding ground for remote teams that are effective and high-performing. These new conditions have given us all the opportunity to take a deeper look at how we’ve organized ourselves so far and how we can do things differently going forward. It’s the best time to do a deep-dive on the kind of culture you want to create and on how you can build an agile organization, with strong teams, that revolves around the customer.

In these uncertain times, the only thing that’s a given is this: The world will look different once the Corona crisis blows over and we can’t go back to our old ways.

This article is written by:

Luuk Willems

Luuk Willems

Co-founder of SSI & SSI Netherlands Country Partner

Luuk is co-founder of Semco Style Institute and intrigued by the question how working can work better for every-one involved. He started his career as a consultant for Deloitte, worked as
a trainer on personal entrepreneurship for the Dutch renowed training institute de Baak, and still works as a trainer and consultant working with Semco Style partner teams all over the world. He leads large corporate transformations and is responsible for training, methodology and content such as toolkits.

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