A successful business is built on hardworking and professional employees. However, even if every team member is highly skilled, a dysfunctional team can have a negative impact on productivity. The new, smart office with a flexible working environment requires a professional and inclusive work culture.
What are the signs that teamwork needs improvement?
Managers sometimes struggle to understand team dynamics and tend to excessively focus on results. When people work remotely, it becomes difficult to assess how well team members collaborate.
Employees are the ambassadors of the company. If the team is constantly plagued by conflicts, it can hinder their ability to handle customers and promote the company's products or services effectively.
When talented individuals start leaving the company, it becomes challenging to attract new skilled professionals. This can have a negative impact on the company's brand.
Conflicts are sometimes necessary to overcome obstacles, but they can also contribute to a dysfunctional work environment. Cliques may form, and individuals may engage in gossip about "the others." Sometimes, corporate culture fosters competition between different departments. Weak leadership often leads to scapegoating, as people are more inclined to blame others rather than taking responsibility for their own mistakes.
Suspecting team dysfunction? Look out for these signs:
- Missed deadlines
- Unnecessary mistakes and sloppy work
- Slow and irrational decision-making
- People appear unenthusiastic, tired, and unmotivated
- Negative surveys and feedback
- Recurring issues being raised repeatedly in meetings
- Individuals reporting on each other in one-on-one meetings
- Misunderstandings becoming the norm
- Group members avoiding collaboration
- Numerous conflicts and arguments
- Increased sick leave
- Low employee retention rate
Usually, your gut feeling is correct. If the team is gradually falling apart, it's time to take action.
Team productivity requires psychological safety
Psychological safety plays an important role in teamwork and efficiency.
Psychological safety refers to feeling safe to express your personality and take risks at work without fear of being criticized or punished. The goal is to allow individuals to separate their professional role from their self-worth.
This theory is supported by Harvard Business Review, which mentions that open-minded employees can think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions.
What prevents people from feeling psychologically safe? Well, they fear that colleagues will ridicule their mistakes and undermine their work.
There are three levels of psychological safety. The first level is belonging. No one wants to feel excluded from the group due to their opinions. This often happens when a new employee joins the group and experiences the infamous imposter syndrome, which makes them feel like a fraud.
The second level is the opportunity to learn and grow, which is sometimes easier said than done. Learning requires courage, openness, and the ability to set aside one's ego. As a newcomer, you may feel inferior. If there is enough psychological safety to challenge old beliefs, people will be more receptive to upgrading their skills.
The third level is contributor safety, which means that team leaders or managers give credit to the right people for their work. It is important to highlight individuals' contributions throughout the entire process.
Last but not least, ensure that people feel safe enough to propose different ideas and diverge from the rest of the group. Team members should be able to voice their opinions without fear of exclusion.
How can psychological safety be achieved?
As a leader, it is important to lead by example and be humble, including being open about your own mistakes.
Why not facilitate brainstorming sessions where all ideas are welcome? Encourage people to openly discuss ideas and concepts. Let them know that there is no such thing as "a bad idea." Avoid personal attacks and focus on discussing the concept rather than arguing with the person.
Transparency in the workplace is key. Every department should inform other employees about what they are working on. By allowing people to openly discuss things, you can benefit from bouncing ideas off each other.
Make it a habit to reward initiatives, regardless of the outcome. Provide opportunities to thoroughly explore an idea and follow up. Hypotheses can be tested.
Advice to a remote team
What about remote teams? Interpersonal connections are essential for empowering employees and creating psychological safety. Ensure that remote employees feel included and appreciated. One example is to create a separate Slack channel where people can share personal things, post the latest meme, or invite others to a video call for fun and games. Managers need to be extra observant and check in regularly to ensure everyone is doing well.
People often have a preference for employees who are similar to them, which can be problematic. When assembling a team, all prejudices should be set aside. This means hiring people of different ages, genders, and backgrounds. A good attitude and a friendly approach should be the norm. Team members with diverse experiences make it easier to examine a solution from a 360-degree perspective.
A modern management style
Leaders who work on their soft skills when dealing with a team of professional employees will go further. Vulnerability is an important leadership quality. Managers with a Type A personality should learn to delegate and give employees the benefit of the doubt.
Simply be a manager, not a micromanager. The employees were likely hired for their unique skills and expertise and don't need constant supervision. They deserve to be given an equal amount of freedom and responsibility. However, this doesn't mean that you can't hold each team member accountable for their work.
Constantly looking over an employee's shoulder, addressing every single mistake, and contacting them outside normal office hours are significant red flags.
Be mindful of the working environment
Earlier in the article, psychological safety was mentioned. What many companies tend to forget is the impact of the working environment. The office layout influences the well-being of employees. A noisy and untidy office can negatively affect productivity. Companies have designed offices that promote collaboration, with lounge areas, smaller meeting rooms, and conference rooms equipped with the latest IT equipment.
Most employees are encouraged to participate in wellness activities outside the office, such as running, yoga, or spa days. They may even receive discounts on massages or gym memberships.
Wellness activities can also be arranged during office hours. This can include starting meetings with meditation or taking a five-minute break in the afternoon. Some team leaders organize "temperature checks" where people share their thoughts and write down weekly goals for their mental health. These goals can range from self-care to spending quality time with family. It's important to remind people of the significance of feeling good outside of work to perform better at work. These goals can be followed up on later to ensure people stay on track.
It is not uncommon for individuals to stick to their own team out of comfort. However, complex solutions often require extending a helping hand to other departments. Team members should be encouraged to network within the organization as it builds trust and facilitates collaboration. This can involve participating in conferences together, joining a running group during office hours, or organizing events together.
Another idea is to invite other team members or team leaders to meetings and allow them to share their thoughts and ideas.
Set clear expectations and enhance business processes
To increase productivity, it is essential for all employees to understand their roles and how they can meet the company's expectations. Always strive to present a bigger picture to get everyone on board. Employees should feel valued and know that their contributions matter.
Top-performing employees thrive when they receive praise, recognition, and opportunities to take on new projects that allow them to showcase their abilities. Underperforming employees may require coaching and encouragement to improve. Remember that satisfied employees enhance company culture and strengthen employer branding.
As a manager, take the opportunity to provide regular feedback and follow-up in one-on-one sessions. It is important to discuss work-related tasks but also offer support in other aspects of their lives. Perhaps a team member is facing challenges with their morning commute and needs a more flexible solution? The hybrid work model has gained popularity, and many individuals thrive in a flexible work environment.
When the team successfully completes a significant and important project, always make time to celebrate. It is important to go above and beyond to reward employees, beyond just giving a simple thumbs up. Positive feedback is known to ignite creativity, leading to new endeavors!
Team communication is key
Anyone who has ever played the Whisper Challenge probably knows that information tends to be slightly changed when passed on. Ensure that your team has access to up-to-date information on various projects, tasks, and guidelines.
We recommend storing documents and other data in cloud-based software rather than on desktops. In the event that things go wrong—and sometimes they do—always document areas that can be improved and the necessary measures to take.
An intranet is a valuable tool for sharing information with everyone in the company. It can cover various aspects, from newly hired employees to lunch hours and upcoming events. Some employees also take the opportunity to seek help with non-work-related tasks, such as babysitting or clothes swapping.
High-performing teams utilize project management
A project management system helps ensure everyone stays aligned. This is particularly beneficial for remote or hybrid employees who don't interact with their in-office colleagues every day. They can use the system to access an overview of different tasks and their respective due dates.
Streamlining communication requires providing the right tools. Each employee should have access to laptops that can be connected both in their home office and in the workplace.
Instant messaging systems like Teams or Slack are crucial for effective internal communication. Additionally, equipping team members with headsets and webcams enables smooth video meetings with remote colleagues. When introducing new software, always offer training and support. Nothing can be more stressful than not being able to sign in or experiencing camera malfunctions.
At Flowscape, we offer app solutions for employees who work both remotely and in the office. Our solution allows them to book a desk space in advance before going to the office. As a bonus, they can also locate colleagues in the building and book a seat next to them.
A successful business is fueled by workplace productivity
Before the advent of the hybrid office, managers often insisted that employees come to work every day to maintain performance levels. They set the terms and adopted a top-down approach.
In modern work life, it is essential for individuals to take responsibility and contribute to the team. The hierarchy is flatter but also more challenging to navigate. A motivated team will yield better performance and increase revenue over time. However, this can only be achieved if communication and collaboration truly work.
Seeking guidance on how to set up your hybrid office for success?
Don't hesitate to schedule a meeting with one of our product experts. They can provide valuable insights into our solutions and how technology can help streamline your office processes without disrupting employees' daily work.
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