Accelerating Team Effectiveness in the COVID-19 World: Strategies to Improve Team Function (Part 2)



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*This post was co-authored by Hogan’s Erin Laxson, Holly Paine Magnuson, and Jessie McClure.

In August, Hogan published the first of a two-part blog series about accelerating team performance. If you recall, we shared the importance of adapting by creating new strategies or running the risk of having an ineffective, unproductive, and misaligned team as a result of our changing environment. In this blog, I will discuss common challenges that teams are facing today. In support of these challenges, Hogan has developed a framework to enable teams to navigate complex dynamics quickly and focus confidently on what will accelerate their performance. The Team Acceleration framework guides teams through a process of self-reflection, discovery, and shared accountability, so they can move through the challenges posed by our changing environment and achieve higher levels of performance.

Some common challenges teams are facing include the following:

  1. Dispersal – Teams that were once co-located are now dispersed and working virtually.
  2. New team composition – Teams have lost members or added new members due to layoffs and reorganization.
  3. New priorities – Teams have been asked to put annual business plans aside and focus efforts on new priorities.

At Hogan, we believe that Team Acceleration can accelerate your team’s long-term performance. If your team has experienced one (or more) of the common challenges facing team functioning, you may want to consider trying these strategies.

Acknowledge the Impact

Reaffirm trust by having open and honest dialogue about the impact of the change.

Dispersed – Discuss the advantages and challenges of working virtually, personally and professionally. What have you enjoyed? What have you found to be difficult? What has been the impact on your team? What does the team need in order to continue operating effectively?  

New team ­- Discuss how work has been reallocated and how the team can ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities across team members. Share ideas on how to effectively onboard new team members. 

New priorities – Re-evaluate the work the team has been doing versus the work the team should be doing. Rethink and redefine the team’s value proposition: “Our team is here to accomplish [fill in the blank]. Our team is here to serve [fill in the blank].”

Revisit Team Values and the Culture Values Create

Identify team values and potential gaps in organizational culture, now and for the future.

Dispersed – Re-evaluate the needs of the team and strategies for how the team’s values will be fulfilled in the new working environment. For example, a high Affiliation team (one that values collaboration), might want to explore different approaches or technologies to support team-based tasks.

New team – Discuss how the culture of the team may have changed with the addition of new team members. What the team values now might not be the same as before. 

New priorities – Discuss alignment between new priorities and team values to ensure that the team is continuing to do work that is valuable for both the members and the organization.

Adjust Team Norms

Connect the impact of the change the team is facing with the team values and culture to inform effective team behavior and norms.

Dispersed – Focus on interpersonal norms, such as belonging, collaboration, and communication, to build and maintain strong relationships among the members of the team. Discuss how the team operates today versus how the team would operate in its ideal state.

New team – Spend time getting to know the new members of the team. Encourage an environment of belonging where team members understand how they fit into the team.

New priorities – Discuss the skills and abilities of the new members and determine how to leverage them according to the new priorities. Ask the team, “How can we work together in the right way to drive a higher level of team performance?”

Practice Adaptability

Respond to the changing needs of the business by rethinking your team’s goals and exploring behaviors that may interfere with the team’s ability to lead through change and proactively prepare for new challenges.

Dispersed – Identify opportunities to expand collaboration across transitional boundaries of expertise.

New team -Build in a regular cadence for the members of the team to discuss what they are working on and how their work fits in with the team’s goals and the organization’s business objectives.

New priorities – Encourage an open dialogue with your team and ask, “What do we need to start doing, continue doing, or stop doing?”

Regardless of the challenge your team is facing, spending time realigning the team’s values and norms, recommitting to desired behaviors, and remaining agile and adaptable can make all the difference in your team’s ability to remain effective and competitive in our constantly changing environment.

Now is the time to accelerate your team’s effectiveness and continue to raise its level of performance, even in the face of change. Using the strategies discussed in this blog and Hogan’s Team Acceleration framework, create new habits for yourself and your team so your team will be well positioned to achieve its goals, operate at its optimal level, and win in the marketplace.