The pandemic has caused our world and work to change. It has created a seismic shift much like earlier industrial revolutions. One of the most impacted sectors is the workplace, and by extension team building.
In responding to the chaos and restoring order, many businesses are readjusting their models. This has been met with varying degrees of success and failure. Many have gone under, many more are laying off staff due to the inability to pay employees or an increased level of employee disengagement. To measure the impact of covid–19 on the Nigerian workplace, the National Bureau of Statistics in partnership with the World Bank conducted the Nigerian COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (COVID-19 NLPS). The study found that as at July 2020, only 34% of respondents have been working continuously since mid-March, while 66% experienced some period out of work.
One factor that continues to differentiate and provide ‘’fit’’ to businesses across revolutions is the team. The notion of team is fundamental to agility. In nature, teams help to withstand natural forces, increase chances of survival, and build community; consider the impact of one ant versus a colony; and one wolf against a pack – teams provide the advantage. Teamwork makes the team work.
How essential are teams?
- Shared vision: A 2016 survey by Gusto found that over half (54%) of employees have stayed at a job due to a strong sense of community. This is made possible by having a shared vision. A shared vision provides the most vital information – destination and expected time of arrival. Team members can get creative about how to journey to the shared destination in view of the time; understand that accidents happen and know that taking a wrong turn is not the end of the journey. Teams help each other focus on the destination.
- Diversity: Skill, personality, cognitive or neuro diversity allows teams to be more ingenious and innovative. This ensures that the team has distinct ideas/viewpoints to choose from, and more solutions to provide.
- Everybody needs backup: True teams support each other and help each other deliver on the organisation’s promise to its customers; in other words, consistent service delivery. Airplanes have multiple engines for efficiency but in the case of one engine failure, the airplane can still fly passengers to safety in the absence of any other problems; for example, with only one engine working, the Boeing 777 is certified to fly up to five and a half hours. Teams provide backup in case of one person’s failure.
- Success and longevity: Building the right team ensures businesses are successful, outlast competition, and continue to achieve business success. Nearly 100 years after its founding, Disney continues to fascinate the world.
Strong Teams grow through vision, pain, commitment and consistency
Teams are like machines with many moving parts. The more parts a machine has, the more it is prone to friction and requires detailed design, good fit, lubrication and regular maintenance. The following are some essentials for building a dynamic team:
- Hire well
- Share your top three priorities
- Be hands-on and deliberate in the formative phase
- Value your team members and their contributions openly
- Give them the opportunity to lead and increase their capacities
- Check your growth regularly – get internal and external feedback and adjust
- Expect miscommunications and misinformation, but do not be quick to judge. Be patient, listen to observe and ask questions before you judge. Everyone loves a fair leader.
- Focus on the goal, remind everyone; keep reminding everyone of this.
As we navigate changing business landscapes, great leaders know that building the right team is not a one-off or a static activity but continuous improvement as business and customer needs evolve. Great teams collectively scan the environment, think ahead, and move ahead. We are drawing close to the end of year and planning for a new one, make building your team a priority.