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Building high performing teams in a hybrid workplace


Teams perform at their best when they have the full support of their leaders who foster a positive working environment and ensure that communication, trust, and respect are maintained, and who set clearly defined goals and outline the steps that are needed to achieve them.


Building a culture of shared values


The most important trait of any team is its members who contribute a diverse scale of talents, experiences, and perspectives, which leads to smarter, more innovative solutions. However, building a diverse team that works well together is a challenge that takes real effort to overcome. Research shows that diverse teams, while often high performing, also face obstacles and resistance. Leaders who attempt to reshape their team without first acknowledging these challenges risk getting into conflict, which, in return can undermine effectiveness.


There is a difference between hiring people to do what the organisation wants and hiring people who already want what the organisation wants. The value of any particular skill is likely to degrade over time, however people who share their employer’s mission and values can acquire the skills needed to achieve shared success. In a high performing team, everyone plays a part in the collective success, with leaders focusing on identifying shared values and building change upon common ground. This requires evaluation of technical skills, but also clear communication of the organisation’s shared mission and recruitment of people inspired to dedicate their talents to it.


The one thing all high-performing teams have in common is psychological safety. Psychological safety allows for moderate risk-taking, speaking up and creativity, and it’s a key differentiator which leads to market breakthroughs. In addition, it helps to build trust, a significant factor separating high performing teams from average teams. With trust, a team feels more comfortable taking risks, and is able to work though challenges and conflicts as they arise.


Dimensions of great teamwork


Over the past decade, McKinsey asked more than 5,000 executives to think about their “peak experience” as a team member and the words that describe that environment. The results were remarkably consistent and revealed three key dimensions of great teamwork. The first was direction - where there is a shared belief about what the organisation is striving toward and the role of the team in getting there. The second was high-quality interaction built on trust, open communication, and a willingness to embrace conflict. The third element was strong sense of renewal, where team members can take risks, innovate and learn from out-of-the-box ideas.


On the contrary, one of the most common complaints voiced by members of low-performing teams was too much time spent in meetings and the content of those meetings. To overcome this challenge, effective meetings should address only those topics that need the team’s collective, cross-boundary expertise, and steer clear of anything that can be handled by individuals or functions, not only to use the team’s time well, but also to maximise a sense of purpose too. In a hybrid workplace, high performing teams also have a system in place to streamline communication that allows them to quickly evaluate when to call, when to email, when to Slack, or Zoom, and if they’re working together in an office, when to simply walk to each other’s desk.


At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at simon@askacumen.com.