For many, it’s time to return to the office after spending months working from home. And whilst employers have done their utmost to support staff in their remote working environment, it’s not the same as being able to motivate and monitor employees on a collective basis.
Despite the limitations offered by remote management, there is no doubt that employers have done everything in their power to retain a cohesive team, largely via virtual meetings and the occasional socially distanced get-together.
Academic research shows that while most people have managed to work from home, the lack of personal contact with work colleagues is starting to put a strain on the effectiveness of teams within the organisation.
This means that over the next few months, with a drift back the office, there will be a focus on re-building team spirit and re-establishing leadership skills.
The key is to find a balance between the wishes of the individual and the effectiveness of the team. This is where leadership skills play such an important role in the creation of trust and loyalty, something that is recognised by most successful organisations.
How do you build a winning team in the aftermath of a major pandemic?
The first consideration is to identify what we mean by a team and its importance in increased productivity and staff retention. A team can be best described as a group of people with a range of complementary skills that work together to achieve a common goal.
This is very specific and quite different to a group.
Which three of these do you think is a team rather than a group?
A runner in a marathon
Volunteers in a charity shop
Members of two families attending a wedding
Eight nurses working in a hospital not always on the same shift
All the stewards and stewardesses of an airline
A group of children on a fairground ride
The answer is 2 / 4 / 5 as they combine three elements key elements; the team, the individual and the task, along with the complementary skills needed to work together in order to achieve a specific outcome.
However, choosing the right team members and style of management is not easy, as everyone will have a different approach.
This mix of the ‘right’ people and the most efficient leadership style is how successful teams are created. These teams are managed by people who build trust and encouragement, spend time thinking about external forces such as customers, competition etc. and support the team on a ‘needs must’ basis.
Who are the ‘right’ people?
According to Dr Meredith Belbin, a team is not a group of people with job titles, but individuals – each of whom has a role that complements the other team members. The most successful teams comprise a diverse mix of talent, which are categorised into nine team roles.
Belbin says that these following nine roles (in no particular order) produce the most effective team:
Co-ordinator: A good chairperson sets the agenda and clarifies the team’s objectives. This role suits someone who is confident without being domineering while, at the same time, promoting collective decision making.
Completer: This role suits someone who is known for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. Meticulous and conscientious, who will personally check all the details – and then again, just to make sure.
Implementer: Well organised, disciplined, efficient, trustworthy and reliable are words that sum up this role. Here is a person who can translate ideas into manageable talks and then timetable them for the other team members.
Monitor / Evaluator: This is a role designed for someone who excels at absorbing and making sense of random information and then making a sound judgement.
Creator: As the title suggest, an asset to the team is someone who is creative and has an imagination that can best be described as ‘out of the box’. Also good at problem solving.
Resource investigator: This role suits someone who is enthusiastic and good at developing contacts. They are good at working under pressure.
Shaper: Here is another one that works well under pressure and has the drive and energy to overcome obstacles.
Specialist: This is the expert on the team whose interest is usually confined to their own sphere of knowledge. Can be best described as a single minded self-starter.
Team worker: This role epitomises the definition of a team. A reliable team player that co-operates willingly and can be relied upon to be diplomatic and a good listener.
What does a team need to make it work?
Clear objectives. Managers need to have a clear understanding of the goals and benchmark of success, including realistic time frames, and be able to communicate this to the team members. It’s also important that team members know their specific responsibilities.
Support. A good leader will delegate problem solving tasks to the whole team while at the same time have the trust that they will be able to supply the support needed – especially from the top down.
Parameters. These are the ground rules that team members will work to, such as time keeping, methods of communicating with each other (especially if it still includes some remote working) and the process for evaluating individual performance against the overall team performance.
Relationships. Learning about member’s skill sets is an on-going process. There will always be hidden talents that the manager was not aware of at the start of the process. As time goes on, this expertise can be assigned to specific problems or issues, leading to increased productivity. As relationships develop and the team starts to take shape, this will lead to an improvement in co-operation, trust and effective communication.
Communication. The single most important factor to successful team building. Encouraging members to share information and knowledge is the key, and a good manager will expedite this. This does not mean endless irrelevant meetings, but by encouraging Q & A from everyone involved in the task. Listening, not talking, and stimulating discussion amongst team members should inspire creativity that leads to an agreed consensus.
There is no question that team building will become even more important in the next few months as employers regain the trust and loyalty of their staff post lockdown. On the other hand, it’s not something that can be achieved over night, and could certainly prove to be a challenge for many businesses as they start to re-establish themselves in the market-place.
Once you have identified the type of right people for your organisation, speak to a recruiter like Multitask Personnel, who can help make filling these roles a reality.
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