Building teams when your employees are feeling alone and looking for hope
What makes Koan unique is our focus on The Three Pillars. These pillars are: Teams, Reflections, & Insights. All are key to our success and yours, but it’s Teams that we’re focused on today, because teams are where your organization’s work gets done and great things happen.
We’re also focused on teams though, because with the expansion of remote working, increased isolation and challenges to productivity, teams are more important than ever.
The Current Climate
“The importance of teamwork (as proven by science),” explores the benefits of teamwork, including how great ideas don’t come from lone geniuses and diverse perspectives help you come up with winning innovations. Both of these benefits are certainly important, but the piece also touches on themes that are especially pertinent now when so many workers are feeling confused, scared or alone:
Teamwork can make you happier - Atlassian’s research shows that members of teams are “80 percent more likely to report higher emotional well-being.” This happiness is contingent on engendering respect, openness and honesty among team members, but if seeking happiness for our employees was a priority prior to the current climate, it is now more than ever. Further, “happy employees are up to twenty percent more productive.”
Sharing the workload eases burnout - If in normal times 23 percent of workers feel burned out and another 44 percent sometimes feel this way, we can only guess what the coming months will look like. But having team members to interact with can help employees manage these feelings better than their managers, because team members better understand the demands of the work (not that this let’s managers off the hook).
Recognition from other team members can improve your productivity - The number one reason employees strive for increased productivity is the respect of their peers. Again, does this mean that receiving kudos from your boss or manager are unimportant? No, but is it less effective? Yes. And while you want to take care of your employees in the current climate, you also need ways to stay focused on productivity.
When you work in a team, you’ll feel less stressed - Do we know anyone who isn’t feeling stress right now (and 61 percent of workers already described feeling stressed at work before all of this)? And yet, we want to get our work done, find balance and some kind of normalcy. Having team members helps. It’s important that the team has good energy and inspires one another, but when team’s act in this way, we all feel less stress.
With this last point in mind, it’s also important to ask yourself how you can best build great teams. One way to do so, is to ask which traits great teams have in common?
Traits of Great Teams
Microsoft has launched a project called The Art of Teamwork, where they studied questions such as “What is the right team composition?” Inc. recently reported on the results of this project and shared the five core traits of the most successful teams.
Clear Team Purpose - When we talk about the importance of purpose, we’re focusing on shared meaning and the impact we all hope we can have on the world. This has always been important, but striving for this kind of impact has rarely felt more important than it does now.
Collective Identity - The important thread here is that everyone wants to feel that they belong (also particularly crucial at the moment), and that feeling like you belong is forged by values, agreements and rituals, the latter of which entails one of our key strategies for finding success: forming habits through repetition.
Awareness and Inclusion - There are a variety of ways this project defines awareness, all of which we value. But it’s the focus on inclusiveness, and the need to both incorporate a range of backgrounds and respect differences among team members, that especially jibes with our ethos at Koan, and our focus on collaboration as foundational to the success of the Three Pillars.
Trust and Vulnerability - Achieving trust and vulnerability is about creating a safe environment, which allows people to bring their most authentic and truest selves to the work at hand. At Koan, both as a place of work, and through our platform, we strive to create an atmosphere where team members can participate to their fullest. Something that is more necessary now than ever, but still bears repeating.
Constructive Tension - Great teams embrace conflict and tension. Full-stop. And doing so expands everyone’s point of view. That said, all of the above traits need to be in place for this to work.
You also need the proper tools and that’s where Koan comes in.
The elements of Koan’s platform that help you create great teams include:
OKRs are established within each team (where progress is measured and monitored);
Weekly reflections,which are a core building block (and invaluable for a variety of reasons, including the enhancement of productivity, motivation, trust and knowledge);
The ability for every team to customize these reflections based on their unique charter;
The opportunity for everybody in the organization to see other teams goals, learn who’s on the teams, the goals they’re working on and the status of those goals; and
Define goal leads who take responsibility and then assign individual contributors to support that goal.
Fostering teamwork and communication among teams enhances productivity, transparency and alignment. It’s also going to help your organization stay focused on your goals, take care of your employees and thrive in this unprecedented work environment.
The Art of Teamwork project studied the following question as well: “What’s the best way to inspire a team to rise to a particularly tricky challenge?”
This got us thinking about what teams will need to have in place if they’re going to be resilient during this particularly tricky time period. Fast Company has a number of thoughts on this, but we were especially interested in the following qualities of resilient teams:
They build “intrinsic motivation,” by ensuring their team members feel like they belong on the team and have a say in how the work of the team “unfolds.”
They promote the “psychological safety” of the team by ensuring the use of “positive emotions” and enhancing the sense of connectedness between the team members.
They focus on their strengths in an ongoing manner, by exploring what matters most to team members and what they want the team to look like.
They prioritize well-being by utilizing “team debriefs and or after action reviews,” which maximizes the exchange of information, while minimizing ambiguity.
This is a particularly tricky time period to work in and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. And teams are more important than ever to achieve that work. When you want to talk about teams, anything we’ve covered in this post or learn more about our platform, just call. Until then be safe and we’ll get through this together.