collaboration

Collaboration

20 Expert Tips to Improve Collaboration at Work
20 Expert Tips to Improve Collaboration at Work

The modern workforce has adapted to several changes that have impacted the way we perform work. Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic is front and center, which resulted in many companies moving to completely remote or hybrid workplaces. These changes have also presented an excellent opportunity to find ways to improve collaboration at work. Many businesses are supported by distributed teams spread across different states or even around the world. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Rob Cross, the Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College, high-performance organizations are up to 5.5x more likely than lower-performers to incentivize individual, team, and leader effectiveness in collaboration. The study of more than 1,100 companies—two-thirds of which include collaboration as a stated organizational value—found that the difference between productive and unproductive collaboration can be summed up in one word: purpose.  It’s the purposeful pursuit of collaboration that is the primary reason high-performance organizations, such as Patagonia, one of four companies highlighted in the study, can leverage collaboration to achieve desired business outcomes. Effective collaboration results from an effective company culture that is supported by management and embraces the entire organization. Simply think about the best team of which you’ve ever been a part. What made that team work? Was it the project? The people? The interpersonal dynamics? Did you enjoy being part of it? Did it bring out the best in you? Now think about the worst team you’ve ever been on. What made those experiences different? Collaborative teams equal enhanced productivity and results. When teams work, they work in the best of ways. But teamwork takes effort, and the reality is that teams can fall apart, break down and experience disruption for myriad reasons. In this post, we’ve combed article after article in order to compile 20 of the most common and most effective tips to help you improve collaboration at work. Be Strategic About Meetings to Improve Collaboration at WorkPrepare formal meeting agendas & keep communication styles in mind. If you’re leading a meeting or part of the team that called the meeting, keep in mind that some attendees might have a more reflective communication style, so if you want your meeting to be valuable and productive, proactively reach out to those team members ahead of the meeting to share specific topics in which you'd like them to contribute.  Defining a clear agenda for each meeting and considering the role of each person who is attending will help everyone involved understand how they can participate and what individual expectations entail. Not sure how to determine communication style?  No worries, there are tools for that. Always use ice-breaker questions. Never just jump into meeting business. It comes across as too cold and transactional, which makes it more difficult to develop report, connection, and trust as a meeting team. Instead of starting with the formal agenda topics, try these ice-breaker options from Atlassian, designed to build authentic connection. One of the best ways to improve collaboration and work and instill a stronger sense of teamwork is to give employees plenty of opportunities to learn more about each other. Don’t forget about the kickoff meeting. Whenever a new team is established to work on a shared goal, it’s a good idea to hold a formal kick-off event. This not only gives team members a chance to ask questions and learn about the project, but also helps create a shared sense of ownership. While these meetings don’t need to be complicated or even lengthy, depending on the complexity of the project, it’s always a good idea to solicit feedback about the agenda from team members. At minimum, reviewing the scope of the project, the shared objective, and key roles and needs of the project should be enough.Observe and Model Best Practices for Building an Environment to Support CollaborationCollaborate on the issue of collaboration. If the company culture dictates strong teams, take a look at the organization and see who else is doing it well. Talk to other managers about team dynamics, how they get people to collaborate and the behaviors they encourage. And make sure that you return the favor, sharing your own best practices and lessons learned. Don’t forget to look outside your company as well, talking with colleagues and mentors. You’d be surprised at how similar situations seem to come up across industries. Create accountability around team performance, not just individual performance. This helps draw out the lone ranger team member and forces the team to work collaboratively toward common goals. If one person isn’t participating as a team member, the others won’t carry that person and a shift will start to take place. If there is one particular cynic, take that person aside and discover why there is conflict, too much independent work, or general derailing of teamwork. Depending on personality, you can either be very direct here or ask a series of “why” questions to get to the bottom of the situation. Prioritize the employee experience. Seeing things from employees’ perspectives can help you learn a lot about work culture and some of the communication challenges that your company may be facing. Dedicating some time to explore employee experience and finding ways to improve both digital and physical work environments can go a long way towards making employees feel more satisfied and comfortable at work. Get digital. Especially for remote or hybrid teams, it can be difficult for employees to follow and understand what their coworkers are doing. This makes it difficult for workers to forge bonds and improve the way they communicate with each other. Using a shared digital platform that fosters teamwork can help improve visibility, create connection, foster belonging, and support more effective communication. Create tech-driven collaboration spaces. Internet speeds and improvements in technology have made audio and video conferencing remarkably convenient these days. To foster more meaningful communication among employees, consider adding personalized communication insights to your meeting tools so everyone knows how best to communicate with one another. Making meetings more valuable for everyone involved goes a long way toward developing a strong collaborative work culture. Promote learning and development. Many employees desire career advancement for the chance to apply their skills to new projects and learning opportunities, all of which contributes to effective and collaborative relationship building within the company. In fact, companies that encourage mindful risk-taking and learning from mistakes often realize greater innovation and workplace effectiveness. According to the July 2021 Monster Job Index:80% of professionals don’t think their current employer provides growth opportunities.  54% of employees fear they don’t have the skills they need to thrive in a workforce that emphasizes collaboration using technology.  49% of employees expect their employer to support career growth.Check in consistently. Have a formal check-in periodically, once a month or at minimum once per quarter, to make sure relationships are developing and collaboration is growing. Especially important if you’re repairing a team, check in to make sure things are on track and to gain a better understanding of what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs to be adjusted. If you start the teamwork ball rolling but then neglect the process, any progress you’ve made will quickly evaporate.How Leaders Can Improve Collaboration at WorkSet clear goals. Employees are more likely to collaborate with each other when they clearly understand their individual roles and the team goals that everyone is working toward. Well-defined goals give the entire team a sense of shared purpose and can help foster innovation and problem-solving. One clear sign of an effective team is one that can self-assess and identify issues that lead to meaningful improvements over time. Provide team incentives. “The lack of incentives and rewards is the most common and powerful barrier to effective collaboration. Yet, most talent management systems are designed to reward individual achievement, not team accomplishments,” says Kevin Martin, Chief Research Officer, i4cp. “Finding ways to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams who engage in productive collaborative behaviors can pay off in a big way.” Communicate expectations for collaboration. It’s easy to be a cheerleader for collaboration, but without clear direction, it can be challenging for employees to understand what to do. From the start, set your expectation for collaboration as a minimum standard. Even better, it should be part of your onboarding process so that potential recruits know you prioritize teamwork. Employees' job descriptions should include details about their own individual roles, as well as roles they're expected to carry out collaboratively. By differentiating these, you're setting clear boundaries between what they should be taking personal responsibility for, and what they need to work on collectively. Define the company culture. If a company culture is well-designed and supported, it should truly represent the behaviors and actions of employees throughout the organization. Create a slide deck and supporting materials that define the mission, vision, and core values of the company. These points should act as a guiding resource for employees and can be especially powerful when managing communications and challenges. Celebrate wins often. Especially when dealing with long-term or complex projects, it’s not always easy for employees to appreciate the achievements they are making along the way. Teams can benefit from taking time to celebrate wins and milestones together in a formal or informal setting. These celebrations can be small, as any chance to recognize and appreciate effective team collaboration is valuable.Focus on Communication to Improve Collaboration at WorkEncourage active listening. Part of the challenge in facilitating effective workplace communication is balancing discussions among different team members. This can be particularly difficult when dealing with different cultures, personalities, and challenging topics. Helping employees, and especially managers, develop their active listening skills can help everyone feel heard and more involved. Communication format matters. When the need to communicate some information arises, think carefully about the format you use to share it. Some communications may work best as text messages, while others are more suitable for an email or phone call. Particularly important or sensitive information may also require a meeting to allow for questions and discussion to clear up any confusion and ensure everyone is on the same page. Don’t neglect asynchronous communication. Asynchronous communication involves information that is shared at different times. One example would be a post made on a company message board that others can respond to at any time. Many collaboration platforms include features that enable this form of communication. Asynchronous communication can be particularly effective for remote teams and those working across multiple time zones. Adopt hybrid communication models. One of the best ways to foster communication and enhance collaboration is to give employees a number of tools to communicate with each other. Utilizing several tools such as email, chat or messaging, video, and a company intranet will allow employees to communicate information in a way that is effective for them. And if you have plug-in tools that provide specific tips or suggestions for collaborating with particular teammates, even better! This makes it easier for everyone to share insights at any time and contribute to an individual, team, or corporate discussion. Organize next steps and feedback. When employees collaborate to develop a new strategy or review an important document, they can share ideas in a number of different ways. After the work of brainstorming and sharing is done – i.e. the meeting – set clear expectations for processing the notes and feedback to avoid creating a backlog of partially developed ideas that go nowhere. Asynchronous collaboration tools are an essential asset but need to be well-managed to get the most value out of the communications, and importantly, move the project along.On a final note, don’t underestimate the benefits of informal collaboration. You can certainly accomplish a lot in meetings and formally organized work activities, but most of the real work gets done between employees themselves. Whatever you can do to Make it easy for your team members to get together or communicate more effectively not only helps improve collaboration, but also will allow many of them to forge long-term or even lifelong relationships.  If teams are important for your organization, you need to do what you can to facilitate their effectiveness. Make sure open communication exists. Create opportunities for all voices to be heard. Connect with the shared values that unite the team. Effective collaboration is one of the biggest drivers of success in modern organizations. Following these expert tips will help you implement the right processes and technologies to enhance collaboration and incentivize effective collaboration among individuals, teams, and leaders.

2023 Better Meeting Guide: How to Make Them More Inclusive & Productive
2023 Better Meeting Guide: How to Make Them More Inclusive & Productive

During the thick of COVID, a Gartner poll indicated that 48 percent of employees expect to work remotely at least part-time after the pandemic subsides. That’s up from 30 percent before COVID-19. And now, those numbers have only gone up. Future-thinking organizations have become increasingly determined to embed remote work into workforce planning for both the short term and as part of more transformative hybrid-workforce models. But to begin doing this, it's important to start with at intersection of where all employees -- remote or in office -- communicate, and figure out how to hold more inclusive meetings.  Two of the largest challenges employers note when considering remote and hybrid workforce models are culture and communication. While not impossible to nurture culture when employees are remote, many find maintaining cultural alignment and figuring out that uniquely defining way of how the company operates become more difficult without in-person collaboration - especially for new hires.  And then there’s communication -- whether in person or not -- it’s always a complicated matter. It’s a long held belief that meetings tend to function most efficiently when everyone is together, but that certainly no longer means we all have to be in the same physical room, does it? What compounds both of these challenges in our new working reality is the issue of inclusiveness -- critical to culture and key to efficient communication. Different from diversity, inclusion is the degree to which employees feel valued, respected, accepted, and encouraged to fully participate in the organization. A company’s workforce may be diverse, but if employees do not feel safe, welcomed, and valued, that company is not inclusive and will not perform to its highest potential. So how do we create more inclusive remote or hybrid working environments? Let’s start with something we all do every single day -- meetings! Remote work is here to stay so part of the approach must lie in how we conduct meetings. What follows is a short but immediately impactful list of some of the most effective ways you can start fostering more inclusive meetings -- including tapping into one of the best-kept secrets of future workplaces.1. Inclusive meetings requiring planningPrep and send your agenda ahead of time: If you’re organizing a meeting, provide your meeting agenda one day ahead of time. By sending out an agenda in advance, you’re designing a more inclusive meeting.Why? By default, we as human beings are introspective, and it doesn’t matter if you're introverted or extraverted either. 87% of extraverts and 86% of introverts agree that they pay a lot of attention to the meaning of your own thoughts and actions. So while it may require more time to formalize an agenda, you’re also ensuring that your attendees have time to prepare and come to the meeting with more thoughtful inputs -- introverts and extraverts alike.Keep schedules in mind: In our new working normal, many of us have exchanged in-office colleagues for roommate-partner-coworker combos. Some of those new ‘coworkers’ are four-legged, non-humans and some are even mini versions of ourselves. Many parents are trying to keep their kids on track with virtual and hybrid learning while they work from home. And others might care for older family members. This could mean limited windows of quality meeting time during the day.If you’re a meeting organizer, you can try to account for these various situations. Check in with your colleagues about the best blocks for meetings and avoid times when parents on your team might need to be more hands-on with kids -- and you might find yourself with more engaged meeting attendees. 2. Welcoming one & all is at the heart of inclusive meetings Take scheduling considerations to the next level by clearly articulating an ‘All Are Welcome Here." Often, people feel the need to apologize when a child, animal, or parent interrupts or disrupts. In these situations, how you respond can make or break your meeting vibe. Based on the situation, you can foster a welcoming environment with one of the following: No need to apologize. X takes precedence.  I love having the opportunity to see X... I know that X needs your attention. Please feel free to jump off if needed or turn your camera/sound off -- whatever’s most convenient, and just rejoin when you can.Not responding in one of these ways will only make team members working from home feel less than, unwelcomed, or like they have to hide away important parts of their lives. Speaking of important parts of our lives...many video meeting tools allow users to change their display names, and as you might have seen, some people have added their personal pronouns. Begin with yourself and encourage team members to insert their pronouns, and you’ll start cultivating a culture that recognizes that you can’t assume someone’s gender, identity, or pronouns by looking at them.  When you start welcoming one and all, you’ll soon find a team that’s all for one and one for all. 3. Don’t just be open, be accessible If you’re in software or SaaS, you know how important Accessibility is for your products! Why should it be any different for how you operate internally and the tools you use with your own team? Look for video tech that can help everyone participate in meetings more meaningfully. Some video conferencing solutions offer live closed captions, which appear as someone speaks, for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. There is also video meeting software available for people who are blind/have low vision and use screen readers that turn text, images, and other elements into audio or braille. Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and BlueJeans all offer live closed captions that are created by artificial intelligence. Zoom offers live closed captioning if you type them in yourself or use a third-party service. All of these programs are also screen reader accessible. The tools you or your company select to use are important. Advocate for more accessible platforms, and you’ll be demonstrating a commitment to inclusive meetings.4. Make feedback king You can take a number of steps to make your meetings more inclusive, but don’t forget that one of the best ways to improve everyone’s experiences is simple... feedback. Just as in the many other aspects of our work, be sure to get your team members’ feedback about what’s working and what’s not. If you’re a manager, start a conversation with your team about what they think could be improved on how video meetings are run -- and make sure you're inclusive of ways to submit that feedback! Why is this important? Studies show that the majority of women in the workforce feel excluded from decision making and uncomfortable expressing their opinions. In fact, a survey from Culture Amp showed two thirds of women feel they can voice a dissenting opinion without fear of repercussion (versus 80% of men), so be sure you’re practicing inclusion with this very activity! Encourage team members to write out a few simple suggestions. While organizations are creating settings in which people feel that they can speak up freely without fear of negative consequences, such environments take time to nurture. You could use a shared “whiteboard” like Padlet, which allows people to give feedback or make comments anonymously.  You could  also deploy a survey that covers video meeting inclusivity. Afterwards, disaggregate the data to look at race, gender, and other demographics, and you might find larger quantities of feedback from particular groups, such as women of color or those who identify as LGBTQ+,  common feedback themes or specific issues among particular identities on your team.Looking at the intersections of all of this feedback can help you identify if there are pockets of people who are not feeling included in how you’re conducting meetings, and importantly, they may have suggestions that will make all the difference.5. Don’t just hold but make space for more inclusive meetings Hello quiet meeting people and those who have trouble getting a word in edgewise...this one’s for you.  As the meeting organizer, pay attention to who is speaking the most—and who keeps getting interrupted. A few different studies have found that women are interrupted more frequently than men, and that men specifically interrupt women more than they do other men. Other studies have shown how men dominate meetings, calls, and other contexts. A July 2020 survey by the nonprofit Catalyst with Edelman Intelligence found that 45% of female leaders (and 42% of male leaders) agreed that “it’s difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings, and that one in five women reports feeling overlooked by coworkers during video calls. To hold more inclusive meetings, at some point in every meeting, say something like: Okay, let’s pause here, and I’d like to invite anyone who hasn’t had a chance to talk yet to come off of mute and share their thoughts. Not only are you opening the floor to all (as opposed to calling on a specific person who might not be prepared at that moment), you’re also demonstrating consideration to those who maybe just had a child potentially disrupt their train of thought by climbing into their lap -- it’s happening more than you think! You can also break groups up so that people who have trouble speaking in larger settings have a chance to contribute ideas with just a few colleagues. For instance, if you’re having the team brainstorm for an upcoming project, you could split them up into smaller breakout groups for a set period of time, and then have a representative from each group report back to with the best ideas.6. Take cameras and hand-raising to the next level First and foremost, use the tools and functionality you have at your disposal. Consider including a note in the calendar invite for meetings that says turning your camera on is optional. By forcing people to turn on their camera, you get a peek into their personal life that they might not be willing to share. Maybe someone lives in a more crowded household, or they might have had a hectic morning that didn’t permit them to get ready in the way they’d like. Being able to turn cameras off without fear of rebuke allows all of these people to join without feeling self-conscious or anxious about their home lives.  Leverage all of the different features your video platform has to make it easier for everyone to contribute. For example, encourage the hand raise feature, allowing someone to signal when they have something to say, which can be useful for people who don’t like to interject. The private chat function is also helpful for managers to help people who have trouble thinking on the spot. Rather than calling on someone without warning, chat them and let them know you’d like them to share XYZ in a few minutes. This will help them prepare, and they can also alert you if they need more time. As a meeting attendee, you can also use the chat feature to encourage a fellow colleague to share an important idea. Finally, and arguably most importantly, if you want better quality, more inclusive meetings, you have to get emotional!That’s right, one of the most important tools in the virtual meeting toolkit is EQ or emotional intelligence, and as we settle into permanent remote and hybrid work, it’s going to be imperative to demonstrate and help your team members build emotional intelligence and deeper human connection if you want more inclusive meetings. Becoming an emotionally inclusive and intelligent organization begins with putting such insights at the fingertips of every employee, where they communicate most often -- and for most of us now, that’s in video meetings. Do you use Slack calls, Microsoft Teams, and calendar invitations to arrange your meetings? Obviously you said yes, but you’re probably not optimizing your use of those tools by integrating emotional intelligence for your team. With a simple and easily integrated plug-in, you (and the rest of your meeting team because we’re all about including everyone!) will have the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another in meetings.  Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing them. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap on for pre- or post-meeting action items, for helping lead the meeting, and who might benefit from a heads up on certain agenda items — all of which takes into account your meeting participants’ behaviors, motivators, and work styles in an easy-to-understand way. Some have called it “a transformational tool for remote work that allows for informed collaboration and communication.” Some might even say it’s the best-kept future of work secret that will help you and your team members better prepare for and organize meetings, understand individual and collective communication insights, and figure out how to re-energize the collaborative juices for teams who have never met in person.

4 Ways HR Can Enable Stronger Manager-Employee Relationships
4 Ways HR Can Enable Stronger Manager-Employee Relationships

Managers are the conduit through which employees receive important communications, understand company values, and experience belonging, growth, a sense of purpose, and so much more. Their influence is impactful — and the manager-employee relationship is perhaps the most important one in an organization. Many of us are probably familiar with one of the most profound Gallup finding that managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. What can HR leaders do to assist and positively influence  manager-employee relationships? Manager-employee relationships: Managers are struggling and want help from HR A report from UKG earlier this year found that 46% of managers said they were likely to quit because of job-related stress. Like everyone else, they are affected by accelerating change at work and economic uncertainty. But unlike individual contributors and even leaders, managers are caught in the middle — expected to deliver on the demands of the business and to guide, coach, and relate to their reports in very humanistic ways. Hybrid work environments, along with employees’ changing expectations of their employers, have altered the manager’s role. At the same time, organizational support of key drivers of managerial effectiveness is declining. A 2023 study from Red Thread Research showed that organizational clarity on what employees need to do to succeed in the future fell 10 percentage points to 38% from 2021 to 2022. Data-based insights about team engagement declined by 7 points to 33%. According to Red Thread, this lower level of support drives employees’ view that their managers are less effective, even though employees view their manager’s behaviors as mostly unchanged year over year. Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement research shows that managers want more help from HR, but only a quarter always get the support they need. Just under half receive some support, and about a third receive support either rarely or not at all. The bottom line is that organizations — specifically, the people in charge — have the responsibility and ability to adopt practices that will strengthen manager effectiveness and, ultimately, the manager-employee relationship. The outcomes are well worth the effort. In fact, Red Thread’s research reveals that companies with effective managers realize a higher NPS and greater engagement. Employees trust managers the most Without transparency and accountability, there is no trust. And without trust, everything becomes a steep hill to climb for the employee, the manager, and the employer. Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement report shows that while employees trust their team members the most (68%), managers are a close second at 63%. It makes sense to continue to build on this trust by strengthening the manager-employee connection. Great conversations are a cornerstone of healthy manager-employee relationships. And research shows satisfaction with performance and career development conversations correlated to higher engagement, productivity, and intent to stay. To distill all this research to its essence, if HR leaders can, with the support of leadership, provide the support, resources, and tools to foster healthy manager-employee relationships, their organizations stand to reap positive outcomes — in engagement, productivity, and retention — far above the effort they put in. The key is communication, and here are 4 ways you can help your managers improve communication with their teams. Have managers set a clear vision for the team to sustain manager-employee relationships Managing challenging behaviors – such as steamrolling or overanalyzing – takes planning and communication on your part. It’s important to play to your people’s strengths and direct their energy toward common goals. The tone of your workplace has a lot to do with setting expectations – and that’s your job. When beginning a project, gather the right team members together to talk about objectives and goals. How does the project support the company’s values and vision? How does each person’s role support the goals? Everyone should be on the same page, working toward the same outcome. How the team arrives at the final goal may look different to each person because of their individual work style or energizer. So, it’s up to you to focus or redirect their strengths, make sure they understand their roles, give feedback along the way, and give them the support or independence they need to do great things. Remind team managers to assume nothing. You know what they say about assuming things! So as hard as this may be, come into the conversation with a clear head and an open mind. Giving the conversation’s participants the benefit of the doubt will help prevent them from getting defensive, which of course, will make conversation even more difficult and work to strain manager-employee relationships. This is an opportunity to practice compassion. Ask questions about people’s experiences and listen to what they say. Important things will be said and the better you listen, the better the people having the conversation will listen to each other. We all want to be heard and recognized, and this approach will put you in the right mindset to more effectively listen to your colleagues, even when it’s things that are hard to hear. You'll start to see stronger manager-employee relationships blossom. Use GRIT to approach conversations No, not grit…but GRIT: Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth. According to Laurie Sudbrink of Unlimited Coaching Solutions, “No one likes to be confronted. Most appreciate being helped. When engaging in a conversation to help, our intent will come from a better place. We won’t feel like we’re confronting the person, and our disposition aligns more naturally. I find it helpful to have an opening statement that portrays my intent. And then commit to being fully present and helpful throughout the dialogue.” Make work more human through technology Role play, or at minimum, putting yourself in the other’s shoes is an effective way to prepare for and practice tough or potentially uncomfortable conversations. Write down what you want to say and be clear on the goal of the conversation — what do you want someone to leave with? as an “a-ha” or action item? Rehearsing what and how you want to say something will help you keep the conversation direct and on track — avoiding distraction and saying hurtful things that may cause further issues or conflict. Further, this is where technology can come in to help. The basis for many interpersonal conflicts at work is poor communication; and poor communication often results from misunderstanding or a lack of truly understanding your conversation counterpart. If you had personality insights for the person with whom you’re communicating, you’d be able to take a more custom approach to the conversation. Whether it be in video meetings, on the phone, via email, or chat, you could have the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another right at your fingertips – taking all of the guesswork out of it. Here’s how it works. Every team member takes a scientifically validated, 12-minute personality assessment. The plug-in then delivers those insights through the tools you use everyday: think tools like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Gmail, calendars, Zoom, Slack, Webex, and more. When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this plug-in automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication with peers. Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers in an easy-to-understand way. As a team leader, you’re able to lay a strong foundation for more inclusive and efficient communication and for team members, along with:Creating more balanced, diverse & agile teams Optimizing team members’ impact by tapping into the unique behaviors, motivators & work energizers of each person. Experiencing the increased productivity that comes from improved team effectiveness.As a team member, you’re able to:Gain deeper understanding of one another, allowing better connection and ability to work through conflict Create deeper, more meaningful connection that translates into more effective collaborations and higher quality relationships at work Feel more engaged in your daily workProvide your team managers with tools that allow them to better understand others’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers, along with preferences and tendencies related to communication, learning, and influencing, you can better craft your delivery — taking their style into consideration before you engage – customizing communication in ways that increase your chances of a positive outcome. That’s going to be your key to more engaged employees, strong manager-employee relationships, and better team performance.

4 Ways to Effectively Manage Different Work Styles
4 Ways to Effectively Manage Different Work Styles

It’s no great secret that everyone works in different ways and that diverse styles or work energizers can often clash and lead to conflict. All employees have different styles of working that draw on their strengths and weaknesses, and these different styles make up a team culture. For teams to work together effectively, they should be aware of each other's ways of working, and leaders need to be able to manage different work styles to their advantage. A well-balanced team that draws on the strength of each member’s work styles can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and efficiency in the workplace. But nothing hurts productivity and growth like a team that doesn’t know how to work together. This often translates into lost time, workplace stress, financial costs, and employee departures. Why it’s important to understand each other’s work styles We know, figuring out how to manage different work styles is tough! If team members don’t feel challenged, motivated, or heard by others on their team, they will quickly dis-engage. And, if members don’t complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, you’ll end up with a group that does too much or too little of one working style. Team members with the same work style and attitude can encounter a few hiccups. For instance, if everyone in a team thought only of strategies and end-goals without considering the finer details of accomplishing those goals (such as structure, time constraints, quality), execution rates would be low and work would fall behind schedule. Similarly, innovative, out-of-the-box thinking would be more of a hurdle if everyone preferred rigid and planned work structures. So what’s the right balance? The right balance of work styles As team leaders, we must understand and manage a variety of work styles every day to be effective. So let’s start with a quick little assessment. This test might sound a bit like you are at the eye doctor, but I promise it will be painless. Simply pick Option 1 or Option 2 for each of the following questions:When it comes to solving problems, do you tend to be more (1) Deliberate or (2) Decisive?  When it comes to relating to people, do you tend to be more (1) Reflective or (2) Outgoing?  When it comes to your work pace or level of urgency, do you tend to be more (1) Steady or (2) Spontaneous?  When it comes to processes and procedures, do you tend to be more (1) Cautious or (2) Freeform?Now count up your ONEs and TWOs. If you ended up with 3 or 4 ONEs, your overall work style is oriented toward stability. If you ended up with 3 or 4 TWOs, your overall work style is oriented toward change. If you ended up with 2 ONEs and 2 TWOs, you bring a balance between stability and change orientation. On any given team and depending on size, you may want at least two different types of work styles present. There’s a popular decision-making practice where employees assume different thinking hats. For example, one employee may be tasked with coming up with new ideas. They’re encouraged to bring unpredictable or possibly outlandish ideas to a meeting. Another employee is then tasked with being more discerning. They ask questions and assess the risks of different ideas.  By assigning team members a specific hat, at different times, for different projects it opens up for more inclusive discussions where a variety of ideas and perspectives can have a seat at the table. It’s a great way to bust dreaded group-think that often stifles innovation. This approach shows that every work style is a strength when expressed in the right situations.  So let’s walk through some key tips to keep in mind when managing people and teams with a mix of work styles. How to Manage Different Work Styles Set a clear vision for the team. Managing challenging behaviors – such as steamrolling or overanalyzing – takes planning and communication on your part. It’s important to play to your people’s strengths and direct their energy toward common goals. The tone of your workplace has a lot to do with setting expectations – and that’s your job. When beginning a project, gather the right team members together to talk about objectives and goals. How does the project support the company’s values and vision? How does each person’s role support the goals? Everyone should be on the same page, working toward the same outcome. How the team arrives at the final goal may look different to each person because of their individual work style or energizer. So, it’s up to you to focus or redirect their strengths, make sure they understand their roles, give feedback along the way, and give them the support or independence they need to do great things. Be aware of your own work style as the team leader. As leaders, we set the tone for our team. Every one of our team members can probably rattle off our behavioral traits without hesitation. When we are aware of our own tendencies and preferences, we have more opportunity to observe our own blind spots and change course when necessary. Not sure what your own behavior tendencies, motivators, and work energizers are? Take this assessment.  Harness the power of diversity of thought and inclusion. When a team can see and understand how each person brings unique work-style strengths to the team, their capacity for better collaboration increases. Measure your team’s unique culture and determine the shared strengths of the team, as well as each individual team member. Talk about how different work styles have benefited the team. Run a Team Culture Playbook Dynamics can ebb and flow and sometimes things change. To keep a pulse on your team, consider monthly team huddles that act as a temperature check on your team. Using a Team Culture Playbook, you can align culture to strategy and improve your team’s performance. It’s a three-step process to help guide you through driving better collaboration, inclusion, and team effectiveness more quickly. During these huddles, you and your team will discuss differences, strengths, priorities, and actions for the future so each member can work better together. With ongoing, frequent, and bite-sized assessment of your team’s culture, you’ll be well on your way to retaining and re-engaging team members while improving your team culture. Be intentional with your team meetings. Put your knowledge of each team member’s work styles to use during team meetings. Ensure you actively bring in your more reflective team members, as they may not readily volunteer what they are thinking. Tap into people who are wired for a specific topic. For instance, ask your freeform team members to come prepared with some new ideas. Leading team meetings with intention makes the meeting outcome more productive, and it allows you to draw on different team members’ strengths. It’s also important to meet people where they are. So, when you’re working with someone who relies on facts to make decisions, you should provide information that supports why something needs to be done. And you should expect that person will do her own research to verify your information. It’s simply how she works. However, to adapt your management style to meet a real go-getter, you’ll want to be very direct with this team member. Tell him where he stands, what needs to be done, then get out of his way and let him do it. He’s all about getting it done. This team member will appreciate knowing where he stands with you. On the other hand, when you have a very social person on your team, you can expect to spend the first 5-10 minutes talking about family, current events, or other happenings before getting down to business. Meeting each employee where they are when you interact with them in meetings will go a long way toward fostering the trust you need to execute on the vision you have set. The variety of people on a team directly affects employee engagement, productivity, and retention. Your ability to manage different work styles will impact those areas. So, it is important to understand your own and your team members’ work styles and how they influence team culture. You can then bring balance to your teams, allowing each member to do their best work. If you’re not sure where to start, we can help. Click here to request a free team culture map for up to 10 team members, and we’ll set you on the path to improved team performance.

5 Tips for Building Human Connection on Your Team
5 Tips for Building Human Connection on Your Team

We spend half our waking weekday hours working. So it's no surprise that so many of us place a high value on our work friendships and close working relationships with colleagues. And if you think about it, those relationships exist because the conditions were just right for creating connection at work. A warm team environment can make or break the employee experience. But with the rise of remote work and flexible scheduling, it’s harder than ever to form those tight-knit bonds with co-workers. In fact, according to Gallup, 9 in 10 remote-capable employees prefer remote flexibility, and 6 in 10 prefer hybrid work. Of those preferring hybrid work, one of the top reasons for it was a desire to feel more connected to team members and to the organization. And there are major benefits to enabling connection among team members. So in our more remote, work-from-anywhere world, establishing human connection isn’t impossible. It just takes some more effort and focus. Employers increasingly need to play an active role in fostering these connections and ensuring employees feel engaged and motivated at work. But why? Creating Connection at Work Improves Employee Retention What secured your new hire is not going to keep them. Employers are attracting employees through flexible work, competitive salary and benefits, and claims of work-life balance. Employees will choose to stay when they feel connected to their peers, manager, organization, and work. Employee retention about getting the basics right. Building connection means ensuring new employees feel a tie to their work. They understand how they are contributing meaningfully to the mission of the organization, and have a sense of belonging. People must feel these connections immediately. In the virtual workplace, employers must work even harder to make and keep connections. Often this means entirely revamping onboarding for greater effectiveness.  Below are some tips to help you start creating connection at work for your employees. Tip 1: Start connecting with employees at recruitment & onboarding First, show candidates how your organization is one that is worth their investment even before they accept a new job. In a world where many HR processes are automated, organizations that take a personalized approach to hiring will make a strong impression. For example, automating tax form completion is efficient, but having a personal conversation about an employee’s start date elevates the experience of connection.  Handwritten notes, phone calls to check in, and introductions to fellow employees are ways to draw employees in before they get started -- and plant seeds for creating connection. Figure out how your new hires learn and communicate best, and then tailor the onboarding and training to those tendencies. It’s easy to figure that out when you use a psychometric assessment that shows an employee's common behaviors, motivators, values, and work energizers. This is the kind of information that you often only get after months or even years of working with someone, but with just a quick 12-minute personality survey, you can get at this info quickly – and start leveraging it to build connection during onboarding. Your new-hire will feel the difference! Tip 2: Make appreciation a part of work An act of appreciation or recognition is a key factor in feeling connected. When someone takes the time to acknowledge or appreciate your efforts, it has a powerful effect. It says “I see you.” An employee recognition program can be formal or as simple as increasing and normalizing appreciation. In fact, when employees are thanked 12 times, attrition falls to just 2%. Workers recognized in the last month are half as likely to be looking for a new job (26% vs 49%). And you can even institute compelling recognition programs even if you have a small team or limited budget. No matter where you land on this spectrum, here are some ideas to get started. Spotlighting strong performance can transform a content employee into a fully engaged one who actively pushes for greater things. Drives Excellence – Employee recognition is the foundation for creating a high-performing team. It strengthens relationships and provides a clear purpose aligned to achievable goals. Recognizing performance allows business leaders to drive toward key goals like retention by connecting people and culture to shared purpose. Increases Engagement – Eighty-four percent of those surveyed in this SHRM/Workhuman Employee Recognition Survey said that social recognition measurably and positively impacted engagement. Reinforces Company Values – Because employee recognition should be designed with rewards that map back specifically to each value, it integrates those ideals into employees’ everyday thoughts and actions. Nurtures Trust – According to a 2017 study, nearly 90% of employees who received recognition from their boss indicated high levels of trust in that relationship vs. just 48% for those who received no recognition. Research shows that workers who trust senior leaders are nearly 2x as likely to be engaged. Impacts Bottom Line - Organizations with formal recognition programs have 31% less voluntary turnover than organizations that don't have any program at all.Start simple…add an agenda item to your meeting to go around the group and let people “shout out” appreciation to anyone who’s helped them or done something noteworthy since the last meeting. It’s simple but powerful, and helps people bond. Tip 3: Make meetings more personal and less transactional to create connection at work We all still spend a lot of time in meetings, and while they can feel like a necessary evil at work, they can be an incredible opportunity to build overlap with others when approached with that intention. The key is to invite people to share more about themselves in the meeting. One effective way teams do this is by adding a “question of the day” to the agenda. The question might be something as simple as “where did you grow up?” to something more fun like “what’s your favorite movie of all time and why?” The goal is simply to invite people to share more about themselves in a safe, nonthreatening way. The magic of doing this is in the potential for a spark of connection. When two people realize that they grew up in the same place or share a common interest, they take a step or two away from just being co-workers in the direction of becoming friends. Tip 4: Creating connection at work through communities of practice A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic and who come together to fulfill both individual and group goals. Communities of practice exist to take advantage of the expertise within the company. They give employees and teams opportunities to share their knowledge, brainstorm, and collaborate across multiple locations – of which builds connections among employees who might not otherwise have to interact. Employees involved in communities of practice have opportunities to develop their current areas of expertise and grow their knowledge by solving problems with their colleagues. They also gain the advantage of feedback and support from experts. Documents related to the communities of practice are stored in a library accessible to employees. The work performed by these key players benefits others later. Tip 5: Use integrations within your existing communication tools For any work arrangement, whether in-office, hybrid, or remote, keeping your employees connected through technology is a must. Beyond using email, Slack, Teams, Zoom, or other collaboration software, consider squeezing more from your investment in those tools by integrating a quick add-on that gives each team member the insights needed to establish stronger relationships with another – all before they even start communicating.  When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this add-on automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication that ends up helping you improve your relationships at work. Consider the use case of one-on-one check-ins. One of the most powerful and simple steps a manager can take to help an employee feel more connected and productive is to check in with the employee regularly. Learning how to check-in effectively means inviting the conversations that really matter with the employee and providing the support and encouragement they need. Now, add in a layer of knowing how best to approach that employee based on their communication, collaboration, and work styles, and your one-on-ones will be more productive than ever – and your employee will feel more seen and connected than ever. It's a way to start creating connection at work before you even meet, and it’s a total game changer for managers.

5 Ways to Create a Feedback-Friendly Team Environment & Why It Matters
5 Ways to Create a Feedback-Friendly Team Environment & Why It Matters

Whether good or bad, feedback is one of the best ways for us to know if we’re doing something right or wrong. And while it's a must for a healthy culture, still not every business has guidelines about when or how feedback is provided. A strong feedback culture welcomes feedback and uses it to foster the growth of individuals, teams, and the organization. In a feedback-friendly culture, employee voices are valued. And to become more effective and fulfilled at work, people need a keen understanding of their impact on others and the extent to which they’re achieving their goals. That’s called feedback, and direct feedback is the most efficient way for them to gather this information and learn from it. Typically, this information -- what we like to call intel on our efforts -- comes in three forms: Appreciation...recognition for great work. Appreciation connects and motivates people, and it’s vital since intrinsic motivation is one of the critical factors for higher performance. Coaching for Continuous Improvement...helping someone expand their knowledge, skills and capabilities. Coaching is also an opportunity to address concerns, feelings, or ideas, which helps balance and strengthen relationships. Evaluation...more formally assessing someone against a set of standards, aligning expectations and informing decision-making. Why a Feedback Culture is Important Even people who aren’t interested in or skilled at giving or receiving feedback will participate in the process and improve when they’re working in a feedback-rich environment. On the flip side, even the most ardent and capable of feedback champions will give up if the organizational or team culture doesn’t support their efforts. So in addition to helping your more reserved team members improve, feedback carries with it a slew of benefits. Here are just three of the most important. Feedback Saves Time, Money & Resources It’s estimated that a company of 10,000 employees spends a staggering $35 million a year to conduct performance appraisals. Yet 9 in 10 managers are dissatisfied with how their companies conduct annual performance reviews, and nearly 90 percent HR leaders say the process doesn’t yield accurate information. Moreover, the average manager spends about 210 hours a year on activities related to reviews. That’s more than 26 work days. However, when you supplement performance reviews with ongoing, real-time feedback, you can help ease the pressure and expense of the annual review. When you think about performance reviews, it’s really just an aggregation of all the feedback data an employee should have received throughout the year.  Better Performance in a Feedback Culture Now, imagine the loss in productivity throughout that year when that employee doesn't receive ongoing intel on his/her efforts throughout the year. When you save it for an annual performance review, you're missing out on opportunities where your employee could have been improving. When employees enjoy their work, understand their goals, and know the values and competencies of the job, performance increases. The link between effective feedback and productivity has been well established. One study found that 69 percent of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Continuous feedback helps align goals, clarifies expectations, and motivates employees. It also creates a positive workplace, one dedicated to encouraging people to be better will improve the level of performance and employee engagement. Strengthened Interpersonal Relationships Engaging in open feedback and dialogue with colleagues, recognizing efforts after a job well done, and helping employees meet their goals will help create meaningful workplace relationships. Fostering these types of relationships among employees is a driver both for improved collaboration within and across teams as well as for retention.  Once a foundation of feedback has been set, sustaining it will become easier with each feedback conversation. Here's how the experts say to do it. How to Build a Continuous Feedback Culture To foster an environment of both personal and professional growth, people need to feel safe about giving and receiving feedback. A feedback culture is a fluid, two-way exchange between employees as well as employees and management. The end goal is a safe space where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns, suggestions, and advancement plans while employers are equally able to express constructive feedback.A healthy feedback culture is one where feedback is the norm rather than a signal that something is wrong. That means when improvements are needed, asking for change won’t come off as awkward or out of the blue for either staff or employers. Instead, you’ll be able to enhance business processes while empowering employees to excel in their roles. Here are some ways you can start embedding a continuous feedback culture into your workplace.Set and reinforce expectations during onboarding, performance reviews, manager 1:1s, town halls, and department meetings for giving, receiving, and using constructive feedback. Train people to focus on the quality of the feedback. It’s worth noting that there is a difference between good and bad feedback. Encouraging people to say "good job" isn't going to improve employee performance or build an effective feedback culture. Building a culture of feedback starts with providing meaningful feedback - that is, feedback that is behavior based (not trait-based), forward looking (instead of backward), objective, continuous, in real-time and direct. Create multiple channels for giving and receiving feedback...like newsletters, email inboxes, surveys, town halls, office hours and more. Some folks like to write it out, while others prefer vocalizing -- be inclusive of how you solicit and provide feedback. Couple feedback with recognition so that employees associate feedback with a positive form of reinforcement. It will help reinforce the kind of behaviors that are helping move the organization. Make it routine. When feedback happens routinely, it becomes expected. Hold employees accountable by incorporating feedback giving and receiving KPIs. Ensure that managers are having regular feedback conversations and check-ins with their direct reports. Moreover, encourage employees to ask and share feedback.As a rule of thumb, more frequent, directionally correct but incomplete feedback outperforms more detailed and accurate but less frequent feedback. This means that consistency and iteration are what makes feedback good. When asking or giving feedback, many refer to the 30/60/90 Feedback Framework. It states that one should receive feedback when a task is 30% complete, again at 60% complete, and finally at 90% complete. Transforming your culture into one built on continuous feedback can propel your teams to approach tasks from a different perspective and find new solutions to your company’s biggest challenges. And the first step in your culture transformation is a team culture mapping, where we’ll help you unlock the behaviors, motivators, and work energizers of your team so you can empower better performance.

6 Ways to Build a More Collaborative Team
6 Ways to Build a More Collaborative Team

Strengthening your organization’s capacity for collaboration requires a combination of long-term investments—in building relationships and trust, in developing a culture in which management and people leaders are role models of cooperation—and smart near-term decisions about the ways teams are formed, roles are defined, and challenges and tasks are articulated. Practices and structures that may have worked well with simple teams of people who were all in one location and knew one another are likely to lead to failure when teams grow more complex and become distributed, so the question becomes just how to build a more collaborative team. Reasons Team Collaboration May Suffer When tackling a major initiative like an acquisition or an overhaul of internal systems, companies rely on large, diverse teams of specialists to get the job done. These teams often are convened quickly to meet an urgent need and work together virtually, collaborating online and sometimes over long distances. Appointing such a team is frequently the only way to assemble the knowledge and breadth required to pull off many of the complex tasks businesses face today. When the BBC covers the World Cup or the Olympics, for instance, it gathers a large team of researchers, writers, producers, cameramen, and technicians, many of whom have not met before the project. These specialists work together under the high pressure of a “no retake” environment, with just one chance to record the action. Similarly, when the central IT team at Hilton Grand sets out to develop sophisticated systems to enhance guest experiences, it has to collaborate closely with independent hotel owners, customer-experience experts, global brand managers, and regional heads, each with his or her own agenda and needs. Consider this though. Although teams that are that large, virtual, diverse, and composed of highly skilled specialists are crucial to addressing challenging projects, those same four characteristics can make it hard for teams to get anything done. For example, members of complex teams are less likely to share knowledge freely, to learn from one another, to shift workloads flexibly to break up unexpected bottlenecks, to help one another complete jobs and meet deadlines, and to share resources—in other words, to collaborate.  As teams become more virtual or distributed, we also see collaboration decline, unless the company has taken measures to establish a collaborative culture. As for diversity, the challenging tasks facing businesses today almost always require the input and expertise of people with disparate views and backgrounds to create cross-fertilization that sparks insight and innovation. But diversity also creates problems.  Research shows that team members collaborate more easily and naturally if they perceive themselves as being alike. The differences that inhibit collaboration include not only nationality but also age, educational level, and even tenure. Greater diversity also often means that team members are working with people that they know only superficially or have never met before—colleagues drawn from other divisions of the company, perhaps, or even from outside it. As you might imagine, team members become less likely to share knowledge or exhibit other collaborative behaviors. So how can you strengthen your organization’s ability to perform complex collaborative tasks—to maximize the effectiveness of large, diverse teams, while minimizing the disadvantages posed by their structure and composition -- that is, how to build a more collaborative team? 1. Secure Top Level Support to Build a Collaborative Team How to build a collaborative team when you aren't supported? You can't! At the most basic level, a team’s success or failure at collaborating reflects the philosophy of top executives in the organization. Teams do well when executive management invests in supporting social relationships, demonstrates collaborative behavior, and creates positive interactions with employees and colleagues. The most collaborative companies have “signature” practices—practices that are memorable, difficult for others to replicate, and particularly well suited to their own business environment. For example, when Royal Bank of Scotland’s CEO, Fred Goodwin, invested £350 million to open a new headquarters building outside Edinburgh in 2005, one of his goals was to foster productive collaboration among employees. Built around an indoor atrium, the new structure allows more than 3,000 people from the firm to rub shoulders daily. The headquarters is designed to improve communication, increase the exchange of ideas, and create a sense of community among employees. Many of the offices have an open layout and look over the atrium—a vast transparent space. The campus is set up like a small town, with retail shops, restaurants, jogging tracks and cycling trails, spaces for picnics and barbecues—even a leisure club complete with swimming pool, gym, dance studios, tennis courts, and football pitches. The idea is that with a private “Main Street” running through the headquarters, employees will remain on the campus throughout the day—and be out of their offices mingling with colleagues for at least a portion of it. To ensure that non-headquarters staff members feel they are a part of the action, Goodwin also commissioned an adjoining business school, where employees from other locations meet and learn. The visitors are encouraged to spend time on the headquarters campus and at forums designed to give employees opportunities to build relationships. Modeling collaborative behavior. In companies with thousands of employees, relatively few have the opportunity to observe the behavior of the senior team on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, even perceived behavior of senior executives plays a significant role in determining how cooperative teams are prepared to be. While the behavior of the executive team is crucial to supporting a culture of collaboration, the challenge is to make that behavior visible.  One way to do this is to invest in travel again. This investment in face-to-face interaction creates many opportunities for people across the company to see the top executives in action. Internal communication should be frequent and open, because the senior team’s collaborative nature trickles down throughout the organization. Employees quickly learn that the best way to get things done is through informal networks. And the most productive, innovative teams are led by people who are both task- and relationship-oriented. What’s more, these leaders can change their style during the project. 2. Have Focused HR Practices for How to Build a More Collaborative Team So what about human resources? Is collaboration solely in the hands of the executive team? Studies have looked at the impact of a wide variety of HR practices, including selection, performance management, promotion, rewards, and training, as well as formally sponsored coaching and mentoring programs. Some studies, for example, show that the type of reward system—whether based on team or individual achievement, or tied explicitly to collaborative behavior or not—had no discernible effect on complex teams’ productivity and innovation. Although many formal HR programs may have limited impact, two practices did improve team performance: training in skills related to collaborative behavior, and support for informal community building. Where collaboration was strong, the HR team has typically made a significant investment in one or both of those practices—often in ways that uniquely represent the company’s culture and business strategy. In the research, PricewaterhouseCoopers emerges as having one of the strongest capabilities in productive collaboration. With responsibility for developing 140,000+ employees in nearly 150 countries, PwC’s training includes modules that address teamwork, emotional intelligence, networking, holding difficult conversations, coaching, corporate social responsibility, and communicating the firm’s strategy and shared values. PwC also teaches employees how to influence others effectively and build healthy partnerships. 3. Support Community Building While a communal spirit can develop spontaneously, HR can also play a critical role in cultivating it, by sponsoring group events and activities such as women’s networks, ERGs, or creating policies and practices that encourage them. For example, at ABN Amro, teams rated the company’s support for informal communities very positively. The firm makes the technology needed for long-distance collaboration readily available to groups of individuals with shared interests—for instance, in specific technologies or markets—who hold frequent web conferences and communicate actively online. The company also encourages employees that travel to a new location to arrange meetings with as many people as possible. As projects are completed, working groups disband but employees maintain networks of connections. These practices serve to build a strong community over time—one that sets the stage for success with future projects. 4. Foster Collaborative People Leaders How can you expect teams to be collaborative if their leaders aren't? So it’s no surprise that the most productive, innovative, and healthiest teams are typically led by people who are both task- and relationship-oriented. These leaders change their style during a project. Specifically, at the early stages they exhibit task-oriented leadership: They make the goal clear, engage in debates about commitments, and clarify the responsibilities of individual team members. However, at a certain point in the development of the project, they switch to a relationship orientation. This shift often takes place once team members have nailed down the goals and their accountabilities and when the initial tensions around sharing knowledge begin to emerge.  Producing team leaders that have both relationship and task skills should be a core goal of team-leadership development for companies. A company’s performance-review process should emphasize growth in both kinds of skills. As evidence of their relationship skills, managers are asked to describe their peer network and cite examples of specific ways that network helped them succeed. They also must provide examples of how they’ve used relationship building to get things done. The development plans that follow these conversations explicitly map out how the managers can improve specific elements of their social relationships and networks. Such a plan might include, for instance, having lunch regularly with people from a particular community of interest. To improve task leadership, have potential leaders participate in project-management certification programs, taking refresher courses to maintain their skills over time. Evidence of both kinds of capabilities becomes a significant criterion on which people are selected for key leadership roles at the company. 5. Clearly Define Roles How to build a collaborative team without clearly defined roles? Good luck! Collaboration improves when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined and well understood—when individuals feel that they can do a significant portion of their work independently. Without such clarity, team members are likely to waste too much energy negotiating roles or protecting turf, rather than focus on the task. In addition, team members are more likely to want to collaborate if the path to achieving the team’s goal is left somewhat ambiguous. If a team perceives the task as one that requires creativity, where the approach is not yet well known or predefined, its members are more likely to invest time and energy in collaboration. Let’s look at a study of the teams at the BBC, who were responsible for the radio and television broadcasts of the 2006 Proms (a two-month-long musical celebration), the team that televised the 2006 World Cup, and a team responsible for daytime television news. These teams were large—133 people worked on the Proms, 66 on the World Cup, and 72 on the news—and included members with a wide range of skills and from many disciplines. One would imagine, therefore, that there was a strong possibility of confusion among team members. To the contrary, researchers found that the BBC’s teams scored among the highest with regard to the clarity with which members viewed their own roles and the roles of others. Every team was composed of specialists who had deep expertise in their given function, and each person had a clearly defined role. There was little overlap between the responsibilities of the sound technician and the camera operator, and so on. Yet the tasks the BBC teams tackle are, by their very nature, uncertain, particularly when they involve breaking news. The trick the BBC has pulled off has been to clarify team members’ individual roles with so much precision that it keeps friction to a minimum. 6. How to Build a More Collaborative Team? Invest in Collaboration Technology To accelerate all of these practices and with pandemic-imposed changes to business models, you’ll need to build and empower teams with the right tools. As your company grows or pivots, it’s critical to invest in solutions that can power more effective cross-functional collaboration and increase employee productivity. In a recent study conducted by real estate property technology provider JLL Technologies, 55% of office-based employees are now in a hybrid working pattern. Still, companies on average have adopted only four out of 15 recommended technologies to address the hybrid work transformation.  For its “Technology and Innovation in the Hybrid Age” study, JLL created a list of what it calls “anchor technologies” that employers should consider providing employees. They include technology that addresses remote working, in-office collaboration, workplace experience, digital connectivity and more. It doesn’t have to be a large undertaking or expensive. A cost-effective way to think of this is to create a baseline KPI, such as profit per employee. As you invest in productivity tools, your profit per employee has the ability to increase. This assumes you are growing the business. If revenue is consistent, then you would be looking at productivity solutions that allow you to reduce costs and overhead. Either way, consider implementing a collaboration and coaching solution. It’s one of the most important technology tools in the healthy team toolkit. This can begin as easily as putting personality insights at the fingertips of every employee, where they communicate most often --  think video meetings, email, and chat. You’re probably already using communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, Outlooks and more! But you’re probably not optimizing your use of those tools for your team.  With a simple plug-in, you can give your staff the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another, build trust more quickly, and take the guesswork out of ‘how to collaborate’ – allowing them to spend time on the work that matters. For example, imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap on for pre- or post-meeting action items, for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to document or support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers in an easy-to-understand way. It’s important to give team members the opportunity to thrive and do the job they were hired to do -- instead of requiring them to spend their valuable time figuring out how to work better with one another. The truth is, most people won’t take their time to figure out how to collaborate better, and as a result, connection wanes, relationships are reduced to transactions, and performance suffers. Don’t let team members go down this road when there are easier tech-enabled ways to do it. Doing so drives trust in your processes and leadership ability, and keeps employees engaged and performing at their highest levels. That's how to build a more collaborative team. At the end of the day, most of the factors that impede collaboration today would have impeded collaboration at any time in history. However, the teams of yesterday didn’t require the same amount of members, diversity, long-distance cooperation, or expertise that teams now need to solve today’s global, increasingly complex business challenges. So the models for teams should realign with the demands of the current business environment. Through careful attention to the factors described here is how to build a collaborative team, and in doing so, companies can ultimately experience better performance across the board.

7 Ways to Improve Team Communication When Your Team Is Distributed
7 Ways to Improve Team Communication When Your Team Is Distributed

The Future of Work continues to evolve, and the number of people who work remotely at least once per week has grown by an astounding 400% since 2010. In Robert Half’s survey report of more than 2,800 senior managers, companies in cities most receptive to hybrid work -- including Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Pittsburgh -- have figured out that many employees are productive no matter where they’re sitting. The next challenge? How to improve team communication when each team member sits somewhere else. These companies have recognized the value of being an early adopter of long-term hybrid work, in the form of a more engaged and loyal workforce, and in a candidate-driven job market, offering hybrid work can be a powerful way to recruit, retain, and grow great teams. Still, managers in these companies cite the complexities of supporting a distributed workforce long-term and indicate their top challenge as “communicating effectively with team members” quickly followed by helping staff avoid burnout.  So as teams begin to settle into what looks like permanently remote or long-term hybrid work models, it’s clear that effective communication and collaboration can no longer remain dependent on in-person interactions. As a remote-first organization since its inception, we asked our Humantelligence Culture Success Coaches for their short but most impactful tips for better supporting remote employees and for how to improve team communication, collaboration, and performance. Here’s what they said. Top Tips for Improving Team Communication Demonstrate empathy any time the team member expresses a problem or frustration. Use The Empathy Formula to acknowledge the team member’s feelings based on facts. Here’s the formula: “It sounds like you’re (feeling) because/about (fact). “Here’s a real-life example: “It sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed (feeling) because of the reduced number of people on the team (fact).” Establish a new one-on-one meeting routine. Have a scheduled meeting at least twice per week over video conference. If these meetings are currently less frequent, use the same amount of overall time divided up over more meetings. Always have your camera on and ask that the employee does the same -- it’s a way to build connection. Talk to your team members every single day. If a meeting is not scheduled, call them on the phone and talk to them. Sometimes just a quick check-in call is all it takes for some days. One of the most important elements of being an effective manager is keeping lines of communication open with your team members, especially when it has nothing to do with assignments or project statuses. Important Note: Talking to the team member in a team meeting doesn’t count, nor does exchanging texts or leaving voicemails. Demonstrate your availability. End your meetings with your team members by encouraging the team member to contact you by phone or to request an unscheduled meeting. Answer the call if at all possible. Establish line of sight and continue to reinforce it. Ensure work assignments, expectations, and deadlines are perfectly clear. Break down current goals into smaller chunks that are measured on a more frequent basis. Find opportunities during your one-on-ones to talk about how the specific work they do contributes to a specific team or company objective. This is not as obvious to them as it might be to you. Do not hold hybrid meetings. Level the meeting playing field so all team members can contribute equally. This is best practice in general, and particularly important for the struggling team member. If some of the team members are in the same location and some are remote, have the onsite team members split up and join from their own computers. It equals the playing field. Leverage the Humantelligence toolkit Use Humantelligence at least once a week. You need to deepen your understanding of the team member’s motivators and behavioral preferences to best know how to help them. Once you have a deeper understanding of his/her psychometric-based Talent Profile, use the one-on-one comparison tool to go over your and the team member’s similarities and differences, which will help the team member feel seen. Uncover how team members’ unique strengths shown on their Talent Profile can be better put to work for the benefit of the team, and then tell them. Also go over the team member’s Remote Work Tips, which offers personalized tips for wellness, productivity, and effective collaboration.  In the increasingly complex world of the future of work, we have to use technology and work harder as team leaders to build person-to-person connection, so that our teams feel trusted and empowered to perform.

Creating Positive Connections from Asynchronous Communication Tools: Slack & Microsoft Teams
Creating Positive Connections from Asynchronous Communication Tools: Slack & Microsoft Teams

There’s just no denying it. Positive connections in the workplace are paramount. They breed collaboration, spark innovation, and foster employee satisfaction. So how do smart organizations create positive connections in a workplace where colleagues are working from different locations and even different time zones? The secret lies in asynchronous communication. In answer, companies are increasingly adopting asynchronous tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams. They provide a unique avenue for cultivating connections that transcend geographical boundaries and time zones. Asynchronous tools facilitate communication that doesn’t require an immediate response. In turn, this allows flexibility and convenience which, of course, is extremely important in our fast-paced work environments. While these tools are often associated with work-related interactions, their potential to foster positive interpersonal connections is immense. However, leveraging asynchronous communication tools to create positive connections can be challenging. How can we ensure meaningful interaction while dealing with delayed responses? How can we maintain camaraderie among team members who may never meet in person? This article aims to address these questions and more while offering actionable strategies for fostering positive connections using Slack and Microsoft Teams. Understanding Asynchronous Communication Asynchronous communication is a form of communication that doesn’t require all parties to interact concurrently. It’s like the digital equivalent of leaving a note on someone’s desk. This style of communication has become crucial in today’s most common work environments. Team members may be in a meeting or “heads down” working and the interruption of a phone call or a desk drop-by is not preferred.  Asynchronous communication tools offer numerous benefits, including increased productivity, flexibility, and inclusivity. Team members can:Manage their time efficiently Respond to messages when they prefer, when they are available, and when they're most productive Communicate with colleagues without worrying about disrupting others' schedulesHowever, asynchronous communication also poses some challenges. Ensuring everyone is on the same page when they’re not online simultaneously can be tough. It can also lead to feelings of isolation or disconnection among team members. Therefore, it's essential to be proactive in fostering positive connections using these tools. Asynchronous Communication Tools: Slack and Microsoft Teams Slack and Microsoft Teams are leading platforms in the realm of digital communication. Offering a range of features from direct messaging to file sharing, these tools facilitate seamless and efficient communication. But more than that, they provide opportunities to create and foster positive connections among team members. Slack operates with a focus on channels and direct messaging. This allows for streamlined conversations on a variety of topics. Microsoft Teams integrates with the broader Microsoft Suite. Which supports project collaboration in addition to communication. These features encourage:Work-related discussions Casual conversations Team bondingIt's important to note that both of these platforms offer features that allow for real-time communication as well. This flexibility caters to different communication styles and needs, making them powerful tools for creating positive workplace connections. Strategies for Creating Positive Connections through Asynchronous Tools Recognizing that these tools are playing an increasingly important role in digital-first workspaces, it is crucial for organizations to leverage them in a way that creates positive connections and more effective collaboration. The following suggestions can help your organization get the most out of asynchronous communication tools like Slack and Teams. Develop a Clear and Consistent Communication Protocol A well-defined communication protocol is the foundation for creating positive connections. Especially when it comes to asynchronous tools and remote workers. This protocol should cover all aspects of your team's communication, including:Which tools, channels, and threads to use for what purposes Expectations for response times What type of information should be shared in such a tool compared to email or a meeting Guidelines for respectful and productive communicationSimilarly, establishing 'quiet hours' during which direct messages are discouraged is a good best practice. This can help team members respect each other's time.  Clear communication guidelines help avoid confusion, create a sense of order and reliability, and demonstrate respect for each other's time and effort. This, in turn, fosters trust and positivity among team members. Encourage Regular Updates and Check-ins Yes, asynchronous communication allows team members to interact at their own convenience. However, it's essential to ensure that everyone stays in the loop. Send regular updates about ongoing projects, changes in policies, or team achievements. This practice can maintain a sense of unity and inclusivity. Additionally, periodic check-ins can help maintain connections. Whether individually or as a team. These check-ins don't have to be lengthy meetings either. They can simply be a daily or weekly message thread where challenges and current projects are shared. Not only does this practice keep everyone informed, but it also provides opportunities to offer assistance, advice, or encouragement. Balance Professional and Personal Asynchronous Communication The primary purpose of tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams is work-related communication. However, they can also be a platform for personal interaction. Casual conversation channels where team members can share personal news or interesting content can encourage camaraderie and make the virtual workspace feel more personal. These channels also provide an avenue for team members to express their personalities and engage on a more human level. This can strengthen relationships and create a more positive, enjoyable work environment. However, it's important to maintain a balance and ensure that these interactions remain respectful and inclusive. Promote and Facilitate Learning Learning is a powerful bonding tool. Encourage team members to share relevant articles, resources, or learning opportunities in dedicated channels. This not only promotes continuous professional development but also fosters a culture of sharing and collaboration. Furthermore, consider organizing regular learning sessions where team members can share their expertise or explore a new tool. These sessions can be a great way to facilitate knowledge sharing and build stronger connections between team members. Celebrate Wins and Acknowledge Efforts Acknowledging hard work and celebrating wins—no matter how big or small—can boost team morale and cultivate a positive feedback culture. It can be as simple as sending a congratulatory message to a team member who's done well or sharing team milestones in a common channel. These practices show team members that their efforts are seen and appreciated, fostering a sense of belonging and positivity. Embrace Bolt-on Technologies to Optimize Asynchronous Communication Whether in-office, hybrid, or remote, keeping your teams connected through technology is a must. Beyond using Slack, Teams, or other collaboration software, consider squeezing more from your investment in those tools by integrating a quick bolt-on that gives each team member the insights needed to establish stronger relationships with another. When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this add-on automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication that ends up helping you improve your relationships at work. Consider the case of the one-on-one check-ins. We already know that one of the most powerful and simple steps a manager can take to help an employee feel more connected and productive is to check in with them regularly. Learning how to check-in effectively means inviting the conversations that really matter with the employee and providing the support and encouragement they need. Now, add in a layer of knowing how best to approach that employee based on their communication, collaboration, learning, and work styles, and your one-on-ones will be more productive than ever – and your employee will feel more seen and connected than ever.

Breaking Down Barriers: A Team Leader's Guide to Ensuring Everyone Works Well Together
Breaking Down Barriers: A Team Leader's Guide to Ensuring Everyone Works Well Together

The challenges of managing distributed teams are real, but so are the benefits. When done right, managing distributed teams can lead to better collaboration, higher productivity, and improved work-life balance for team members. However, there are a few challenges team leaders often encounter when managing distributed teams, including inevitable team friction and personality differences, issues with collaboration, and not meeting goals. With the right tools and strategies in place, you can break down the barriers preventing your team from reaching its goals. So, if you’re a manager of distributed teams, read on for strategies on how to manage distributed teams more effectively.  The Rise of Distributed Teams According to a 2020 study by Buffer, 52% of companies had at least one remote employee. This number has obviously grown, as more and more companies realize the benefits of having a distributed workforce. To save money on office space. To attract and retain top talent. To increase employee productivity. To improve work-life balance. To be more environmentally sustainable.There are also a number of challenges associated with managing a distributed team. Some of the most common challenges include:Cultural and personality differences Communication and collaboration Lack of connection Trust and accountabilityHowever, the benefits of having a distributed team often outweigh the challenges. Companies that are successful in managing a distributed team can reap a number of rewards, including:Increased productivity Reduced costs Improved employee satisfaction Increased innovation A more globalized workforceIf you're considering managing a distributed team, it's important to carefully consider the pros and cons. With careful planning and execution, a distributed team can be a powerful tool for driving business success.A study by Global Workplace Analytics found that the number of people working remotely in the United States has increased by 44% since 2010. A study by Upwork found that 57% of freelancers work remotely. A study by FlexJobs found that 71% of companies offer remote work options. A study by Buffer found that 52% of companies have at least one remote employee. A study by PwC found that 83% of CEOs believe that remote work will be the norm in the future.As you can see, the trend toward distributed teams is only going to continue. If you're not already thinking about how to manage a distributed team, now is the time to start and to get ahead of some of the key challenges that often hinder distributed teams. Problem 1: Managing Different Personalities It’s no great secret that everyone works in different ways and that diverse working styles or work energizers can often clash and lead to conflict. Nothing hurts productivity and growth like a team that doesn’t know how to work together. All employees have different styles of working that draw on their strengths and weaknesses. And these different styles or work energizers make up a team culture. For teams to work together effectively, they should be aware of each other's ways of working, and leaders need to be able to manage different work styles to their advantage. A well-balanced team that draws on the strength of each member’s work styles can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and efficiency in the workplace. Not doing so can translate into lost time and productivity, workplace stress, financial costs, and employee departure. The right balance of work styles within distributed teams As team leaders, we must understand and manage a variety of work styles every day to be effective. So let’s start with a quick little assessment. This test might sound a bit like you are at the eye doctor, but I promise it will be painless. Simply pick Option 1 or Option 2 for each of the following questions:When it comes to solving problems, do you tend to be more (1) Deliberate or (2) Decisive?  When it comes to relating to people, do you tend to be more (1) Reflective or (2) Outgoing?  When it comes to your work pace or level of urgency, do you tend to be more (1) Steady or (2) Spontaneous?  When it comes to processes and procedures, do you tend to be more (1) Cautious or (2) Freeform?Now count up your ONEs and TWOs. If you ended up with 3 or 4 ONEs, your overall work style is oriented toward stability. If you ended up with 3 or 4 TWOs, your overall work style is oriented toward change. If you ended up with 2 ONEs and 2 TWOs, you bring a balance between stability and change orientation. On any given team and depending on size, you may want at least two different types of work styles present. There’s a popular decision-making practice where employees assume different thinking hats. For example, one employee may be tasked with coming up with new ideas. They’re encouraged to bring unpredictable or possibly outlandish ideas to a meeting. Another employee is then tasked with being more discerning. They ask questions and assess the risks of different ideas.  By assigning team members a specific hat, at different times, for different projects it opens up for more inclusive discussions where a variety of ideas and perspectives can have a seat at the table. It’s a great way to bust dreaded group-think that often stifles innovation. This approach shows that every work style is a strength when expressed in the right situations.  So let’s walk through some key tips to keep in mind when managing people and teams with a mix of work styles. How to manage different work styles Set a clear vision for the team. Managing challenging behaviors – such as steamrolling or overanalyzing – takes planning and communication on your part. It’s important to play to your people’s strengths and direct their energy toward common goals. The tone of your workplace has a lot to do with setting expectations – and that’s your job. When beginning a project, gather the right team members together to talk about objectives and goals. How does the project support the company’s values and vision? How does each person’s role support the goals? Everyone should be on the same page, working toward the same outcome. How the team arrives at the final goal may look different to each person because of their individual work style or energizer. So, it’s up to you to focus or redirect their strengths, make sure they understand their roles, give feedback along the way, and give them the support or independence they need to do great things. Be aware of your own work style as the team leader. As leaders, we set the tone for our team. Every one of our team members can probably rattle off our behavioral traits without hesitation. When we are aware of our own tendencies and preferences, we have more opportunity to observe our own blind spots and change course when necessary. Not sure what your own behavior tendencies, motivators, and work energizers are? Use an assessment like this. Harness the power of diversity of thought and inclusion. When a team can see and understand how each person brings unique work-style strengths to the team, their capacity for better collaboration increases. Measure your team’s unique culture and determine the shared strengths of the team, as well as each individual team member. Talk about how different work styles have benefited the team. Be intentional with your team meetings. Put your knowledge of each team member’s work styles to use during team meetings. Ensure you actively bring in your more reflective team members, as they may not readily volunteer what they are thinking. Tap into people who are wired for a specific topic. For instance, ask your freeform team members to come prepared with some new ideas. Leading team meetings with intention makes the meeting outcome more productive, and it allows you to draw on different team members’ strengths.  It’s also important to meet people where they are. So, when you’re working with someone who relies on facts to make decisions, you should provide information that supports why something needs to be done. And you should expect that person will do her own research to verify your information. It’s simply how she works.  However, to adapt your management style to meet a real go-getter, you’ll want to be very direct with this team member. Tell him where he stands, what needs to be done, then get out of his way and let him do it. He’s all about getting it done. This team member will appreciate knowing where he stands with you. On the other hand, when you have a very social person on your team, you can expect to spend the first 5-10 minutes talking about family, current events, or other happenings before getting down to business.  Meeting each employee where they are when you interact with them in meetings will go a long way toward fostering the trust you need to execute on the vision you have set.  Problem 2: Communication & Collaboration Breakdowns in Distributed Teams Distributed teams need intentional communication because they lack the face-to-face interactions that are common in co-located teams. This can lead to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and a lack of cohesion. In fact, research has shown that distributed workers waste upwards of 17 hours wasted each week on issues related to miscommunication. There are a number of things that distributed teams can do to improve their communication. First, they should establish clear communication channels and protocols. This means agreeing on which tools will be used for communication, how often team members will check in, and what the expectations are for response times. Second, they should be mindful of the tone of their communication. When you can't see someone's facial expressions or body language, it's easy to misinterpret their tone. Be sure to use clear and concise language, and if you want to be safe, avoid using sarcasm or humor that could be easily misinterpreted. Here are some additional manager’s tips for intentional communication in distributed teams:Demonstrate empathy any time the team member expresses a problem or frustration.Use The Empathy Formula to acknowledge the team member’s feelings based on facts. Here’s the formula: “It sounds like you’re (feeling) because/about (fact).” Here’s a real-life example: “It sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed (feeling) because of the reduced number of people on the team (fact).”Establish a new one-on-one meeting routine.Have a scheduled meeting at least twice per week over video conference. If these meetings are currently less frequent, use the same amount of overall time divided up over more meetings. Always have your camera on and ask that the employee does the same -- it’s a way to build connection and drive resonance.Talk to your team members every single day.If a meeting is not scheduled, call them on the phone and talk to them. Sometimes just a quick check-in call is all it takes for some days. One of the most important elements of being an effective manager is keeping lines of communication open with your team members, especially when it has nothing to do with assignments or project statuses.  Do note that talking to a team member in a team meeting doesn’t count here, nor does exchanging texts or leaving voicemails. We have to put in the work!Demonstrate your availability.End your meetings with your team member by encouraging the team member to contact you by phone or to request an unscheduled meeting. Always answer the call when possible.Establish line of sight and continue to reinforce it.Ensure work assignments, expectations, and deadlines are perfectly clear. Break down current goals into smaller chunks that are measured on a more frequent basis. Find opportunities during your one-on-ones to talk about how the specific work they do contributes to a specific team or company objective. This is not as obvious to them as it might be to you.Do not hold hybrid meetings.Being a good manager entails leveling the meeting playing field so all team members can contribute equally. This is a best practice in general, and particularly important for any struggling team members. If some of the team members are in the same location and some are remote, have the onsite team members split up and join from their own computers. It equals the playing field, and makes remote employees feel less on the outside.Leverage a Culture PlaybookUse Humantelligence at least once a week with your teams. The first step is deepening your understanding of the team member’s motivators and behavioral preferences to best know how to help them. Once you have a deeper understanding of his/her psychometric-based Talent Profile, use the one-on-one comparison tool to go over your and the team member’s similarities and differences, which will help the team member feel “seen.” Uncover how the team member’s unique strengths shown on their Talent Profile can be better put to work for the benefit of the team, and then tell them.       From here, you can then leverage the team culture playbook. Being a good manager entails taking stock of your team’s dynamics, monitoring it, seeking feedback on it, and then shifting, building, or sustaining it. The Playbook enables you to align culture to strategy so you can improve your team’s performance. It’s a simple three-step process to help guide you through driving better collaboration, inclusion, and team effectiveness more quickly. With ongoing and frequent assessment of your team’s culture, you’ll be well on your way to better engaging team members and ensuring optimal effectiveness.  Problem 3: Lack of Meaningful Connection within Distributed Teams Connection at work matters. Would you be surprised to learn that people with friendly connections at work perform better in their job? According to research, people who have a good friend at work are not only more likely to be happier and healthier, but they are also seven times as likely to be engaged in their job. In addition, employees who report having friends at work have higher levels of productivity, retention and job satisfaction than those who don’t. The feelings of belonging and purpose that friendship and connection foster are among the top benefits people are looking to get from their work. These feelings are so profound and powerful that some employees would even trade some compensation for more meaningful relationships – at least that’s what over half of the employees surveyed by BetterUp Labs found. And when connection improves, collaboration and productivity has shown to improve by nearly 25%. How to encourage meaningful connection among your distributed team A recent study from Accenture found that on-site workers were the most likely to say they felt disconnected at work. The study challenges the assumption that working only on-site makes people feel more connected. People who work on-site, in comparison with those who work in hybrid or remote workplaces, feel the least connected of the three groups studied — 42 percent of on-site workers say they feel “not connected” versus 36 percent hybrid and 22 percent fully remote.  While in-person time is vital, physical proximity that lacks leadership support, flexibility, technology or sense of purpose doesn’t necessarily translate into people feeling deeper connections to their work and to each other. It’s not about the building, the site, the campus. As with most things in this life, it’s about what’s going on inside that counts. Accenture’s Organizational culture: From always connected to omni-connected report outlines how companies can strengthen culture and connection by delivering what they refer to as “omni-connected experiences,” which level the playing field, enabling people to participate fully and have an equitable experience — growing their careers, building relationships, and creating both personal and business value and impact — regardless of where they physically work. The key to deeper connection and strong engagement is to simply enable and activate the everyday interactions between coworkers. Make sure your employees are making the most of their in-office days and that there are adequate spaces and reasons for in-person interactions. Encourage spontaneous check-ins. With fewer people around us, it’s easy just to immerse ourselves in work, but regular check-ins with others are crucial for everyone, in particular leaders who may not otherwise notice if their team is struggling.  Make sure your remote employees aren’t being overlooked for team and company events. Be mindful to create opportunities for genuine human connection. Support informal mentorships. Facilitate communication across departments and employees of different ages and experience levels so team members can learn more about each other and their areas of work, while sparking new ideas and interests.Embracing Collaboration Technology that Drives Connection For any work arrangement, whether in-office, hybrid, or remote, keeping your employees connected through technology is a must. Beyond using email, Slack, Teams, Zoom, or other collaboration software, consider squeezing more from your investment in those tools by integrating a quick add-on that gives each team member the insights needed to establish stronger relationships with another – all before they even start communicating.  When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this add-on automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication that ends up helping you improve your relationships at work. Consider the use case of one-on-one check-ins. One of the most powerful and simple steps a manager can take to help an employee feel more connected and productive is to check in with the employee regularly. Learning how to check-in effectively means inviting the conversations that really matter with the employee and providing the support and encouragement they need. Now, add in a layer of knowing how best to approach that employee based on their communication, collaboration, and work styles, and your one-on-ones will be more productive than ever – and your employee will feel more seen and connected than ever. It’s a game changer for managers. Human connection builds and compounds when people have ongoing shared experiences and a mutual familiarity with one another. Anytime you create time and space for that – and enable it with technology – you’re creating just the right conditions for connection to blossom. If you're looking to improve your team's  connection, collaboration and productivity, we can help.

How Human Connection in the Workplace Drives Inclusion & Belonging
How Human Connection in the Workplace Drives Inclusion & Belonging

In today's fast-paced work environment, it can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks and deadlines. However, as humans, we are social creatures who crave connection and a sense of belonging. This is why fostering human connection in the workplace is essential for promoting inclusion and a positive work environment. In this article, we will explore the importance of human connection at work and how it can improve inclusion and belonging within teams. The Importance of Human Connection at Work Human connection in the workplace refers to the relationships and interactions between colleagues, managers, and employees. It is about creating a sense of community and fostering a positive work culture where everyone feels valued and supported. When individuals feel connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged at work. This can lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. Research has shown that positive relationships at work can improve both mental and physical health. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that employees who reported higher levels of social support from colleagues and supervisors had lower levels of stress and burnout (Halbesleben & Buckley, 2004). Additionally, a meta-analysis of over 200 studies found that employees who felt supported by their colleagues and managers had better mental health outcomes, including decreased anxiety and depression (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010). A sense of connection at work can improve job satisfaction and employee retention rates. According to the 2021 Workplace Friendship & Happiness Survey by Wildgoose, 57% of people say having a best friend in the workplace makes work more enjoyable, 22% feel more productive with friends, and 21% say friendship makes them more creative.  These numbers are understandable. Work is often a means to an end, and jobs come with stressors and unexpected events that are out of your control. It can be the relationships we have at work that make the hours spent at work happier and more purposeful. This is because having a connection with colleagues can create a sense of loyalty and commitment to the company. How Connection Improves Inclusion & Belonging Inclusion and belonging are essential components of a positive work environment. Inclusion refers to the extent to which individuals feel valued, respected, and supported in the workplace regardless of their background or identity. Belonging refers to the sense of community and connection that individuals feel with their colleagues and the organization as a whole. When employees feel included and a sense of belonging at work, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and productive. Human connection in the workplace can improve inclusion and belonging in several ways. Firstly, when colleagues have positive relationships with each other, they are more likely to understand and appreciate each other's unique perspectives and backgrounds. This can lead to increased empathy and respect for diversity, which is essential for creating an inclusive work environment. Secondly, having a sense of connection with colleagues can increase trust and psychological safety in the workplace. When individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing their ideas, they are more likely to contribute to the team's success. A study conducted by Google found that teams with high levels of psychological safety had higher levels of productivity, innovation, and overall performance (Edmondson, 2012). Lastly, human connection in the workplace can promote a culture of collaboration and teamwork. When individuals feel connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to work together and support each other's success. This can lead to increased creativity and problem solving, as well as a stronger sense of community within the organization. Ways to Foster Human Connection Creating a sense of human connection in the workplace takes effort and intentionality. Here are some ways to foster human connection within teams:Prioritize Social Activities: Encourage colleagues to get to know each other outside of work by organizing social events such as happy hours, team lunches, virtual coffee or trivia sessions, or volunteering activities. Show Appreciation Regularly: Expressing gratitude and appreciation for colleagues can create a positive work culture and foster a sense of connection. Encourage team members to recognize and celebrate each other's accomplishments. Encourage Open Communication: Encouraging open communication among employees is a great way to foster human connection in the workplace. This can be done by providing opportunities for employees to share their thoughts and ideas with each other, such as regular team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and open-door policies for managers. Promote Collaboration: Collaboration is another effective way to foster human connection in the workplace. By promoting teamwork and collaboration, employees can build relationships with each other and work together towards common goals. This can be done through group projects, team-building exercises, and cross-functional training programs. Recognize Achievements: Recognizing achievements and celebrating milestones is a great way to foster human connection in the workplace. By acknowledging the contributions of individual employees and teams, you can help create a sense of community and foster a culture of appreciation and gratitude. This can be done through public recognition ceremonies, awards programs, and other forms of recognition and celebration.Benefits of Human Connection at Work The benefits of human connection in the workplace are not limited to employees' mental and emotional well-being -- in which both inclusion and belonging play key roles. Research has also shown that employees with strong social connections tend to perform better at work. According to a study by the University of Warwick, happy employees are up to 20% more productive than their unhappy colleagues. Happy employees are more engaged, motivated, and creative -- leading to better performance and higher levels of job satisfaction. Organizations that prioritize human connection can also see significant improvements in their bottom line. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with diverse workforces are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry median. This is because a diverse workforce leads to better decision-making, improved innovation, and increased creativity. Creating human connection in the workplace can take many forms. For example, team-building activities, such as group outings or volunteer work, can help to build relationships and promote inclusivity. Regular team meetings and one-on-one check-ins can also help to foster connection and provide opportunities for feedback and collaboration. Social events, such as happy hours or team lunches, can be an excellent way to create a sense of community and help team members get to know one another on a more personal level. But creating human connection is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different individuals will have different needs and preferences when it comes to social interaction. Some may prefer more structured activities, while others may prefer more informal gatherings. Organizations must be mindful of individual differences and tailor their approach accordingly to ensure that everyone feels included. Further, this approach to increasing human connect takes one of our most valuable resources -- time. So the question becomes, how can we accelerate this process? Technology that Makes Work Feel More Human Funny enough, the answer lies in technology -- technology that makes work more human! Consider optimizing all of your efforts by employing technology that supports them. For example, if you consider all the points of interaction among your employees -- emails, chats, meetings, etc. -- these are opportunities for building connection. There's no need to wait until the happy hour or the team meeting. When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, you team members could automatically have useful, customized tips for more effective communication and collaboration right at their fingertips. These are personality and communication insights surfaced right there in the tools your organization uses every day: Microsoft Teams®, Outlook®, Gmail®, Zoom®, Webex®, Slack® and calendars. With this tool, leaders can reduce friction between team members, create stronger human connection more quickly, build a foundation for inclusion and belonging, and improve the productivity of the team.  Human connection in the workplace is essential for creating a sense of belonging and inclusivity within teams. Establishing meaningful relationships between team members can lead to improved engagement, higher levels of job satisfaction, and increased productivity.

How to Improve Communication for Better Work Relationships
How to Improve Communication for Better Work Relationships

Just like any good friendship, marriage, or courtship, when things are good, they’re good because the communication is there. The communication is open communication – meaning each person has a chance to share opinions, ideas, complaints, questions, or feedback and is treated respectfully after doing so. You problem solve together and work through an issue. It’s no different at work. Open communication is one of the easiest ways to build strong relationships in the workplace. The key is to make frequent, robust, personalized communication simply a part of the way you do business. The problem is, when things get stressful, overwhelming, or hard, we tend to retreat into defensive, one-way, transactional, or no communication at all. Here, we’re sharing the 7 most important tips for improving communication at work so you can build quality relationships that can lead to better collaboration, problem solving, and workplace performance – for everyone!  1. Resist the Urge to Avoid Did you know, a whopping 70 percent of employees avoid difficult conversations in the workplace? Further, according to Officevibe, an online platform that helps managers cultivate stronger, healthier relationships, “nearly 1 in 4 employees do not feel that their manager is aware of employee pain points.” Bravely calls it the conversation gap, and it can lower morale and often forms the foundation for a toxic work environment.  Biting your tongue and dodging long-deferred, important conversations may hurt more than just company relationships; it may adversely impact productivity and profits.  According to Forbes, avoiding difficult conversations can actually lead to dysfunction and lack of performance. A major study found that employees spend an average of 2.8 hours a week dealing with conflict, which amounts to roughly $359 billion in workforce costs. Even if it’s uncomfortable, open conversations addressing difficult situations are important for our well-being and mental health, as well as for fostering stronger relationships and teams at work. 2. Improving Communication at Work by Assuming Nothing You know what they say about assuming things! So as hard as this may be, come into the conversation with a clear head and an open mind. Giving the conversation’s participants the benefit of the doubt will help prevent them from getting defensive, which of course, will make the conversation even more difficult. This is an opportunity to practice compassion. Ask questions about people’s experiences and listen to what they say. Important things will be said and the better you listen, the better the people having the conversation will listen to each other. We all want to be heard and recognized, and this approach will put you in the right mindset to more effectively listen to your colleagues, even when it’s things that are hard to hear. 3. Focus on Facts & Behaviors It’s easy to point fingers and place blame based on your perceptions and implications. Try to confront behavior, not your assessment of their behavior. Using inferences like “irresponsible” or “not a team player” causes defensiveness and makes success less likely.  You must ask yourself, “What is the evidence for my inference?” Use the following kind of language conventions to stick to behaviors: “When you do X, it causes me to think you are Y.” Plan before and maybe even practice so you keep your composure.  In the process, take responsibility for anything you can directly — helping to mitigate against any backlash or intense feelings by letting the other person know you understand your part in the problem. 4. Use GRIT for Improving Communication at Work No, not grit…but GRIT: Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth. According to Laurie Sudbrink of Unlimited Coaching Solutions, “No one likes to be confronted. Most appreciate being helped. When engaging in a conversation to help, our intent will come from a better place. We won’t feel like we’re confronting the person, and our disposition aligns more naturally. I find it helpful to have an opening statement that portrays my intent. And then commit to being fully present and helpful throughout the dialogue.” 5. Focus on Value & Impact Confrontation suggests meeting someone face-to-face with hostile intent. Examine what your true intent is, and ask yourself, how can this conversation create value for me, for the other person, and for the organization? To prevent them from getting defensive, try using the framework of: Situation, Behavior, Impact. For example, you were in a meeting (the situation; your manager yelled at you and pounded her fist on the table (behavior); and it made you question your ability to do your job (the impact.) When you talk to them, put it in the construct of “when you do this, this is how it affects me.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be how it made you feel. Some of the impacts can be “I didn’t understand where you were coming from,” or “I didn’t fully understand the point you were trying to drive home.”  6. Bring Solutions Not More Problems Move the conversation in a positive direction by bringing suggestions of how to remedy the situation, bringing forth options for how to achieve that. By doing that, you won’t be looked at as complaining but rather, problem solving. It also demonstrates that you respect their time since they probably have limited bandwidth to address this.  7. Prepare, Plan, and Make Tech Your Friend Role play, or at minimum, putting yourself in the other’s shoes is an effective way to prepare for and practice tough or potentially uncomfortable conversations. Write down what you want to say and be clear on the goal of the conversation — what do you want someone to leave with? as an “a-ha” or action item? Rehearsing what and how you want to say something will help you keep the conversation direct and on track — avoiding distraction and saying hurtful things that may cause further issues or conflict. Further, this is where technology can come in to help. The basis for many interpersonal conflicts at work is poor communication; and poor communication often results from misunderstanding or a lack of truly understanding your conversation counterpart.  If you had personality insights for the person with whom you’re communicating, you’d be able to take a more custom approach to the conversation. Whether it be in video meetings, on the phone, via email, or chat, you could have the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another right at your fingertips – taking all of the guesswork out of it. Here’s how it works. Every team member takes a scientifically validated, 12-minute personality assessment. The plug-in then delivers those insights through the tools you use everyday: think tools like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Gmail, calendars, Zoom, Slack, Webex, and more. When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this plug-in automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication with peers. Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers in an easy-to-understand way. As a team leader, you’re able to lay a strong foundation for more inclusive and efficient communication and for team members, along with:Creating more balanced, diverse & agile teams Optimizing team members’ impact by tapping into the unique behaviors, motivators & work energizers of each person. Experiencing the increased productivity that comes from improved team effectiveness.As a team member, you’re able to:Gain deeper understanding of one another, allowing better connection and ability to work through conflict Create deeper, more meaningful connection that translates into more effective collaborations and higher quality relationships at work Feel more engaged in your daily workWhen you know others’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers, along with preferences and tendencies related to communication, learning, and influencing, you can better craft your delivery — taking their style into consideration before you engage – customizing that difficult conversation in ways that increase your chances of a positive outcome.  The Benefits of Improving Communication at Work Thankfully, improving communication at work, while an effort, is entirely possible, and the result is positive relationships. Building great work relationships can do wonders for your career and daily work life. Here are just a few benefits: Increased job satisfaction. People often quit jobs or leave entire industries due to bad colleagues or managers. But when you build strong relationships, you can find purpose in your work all over again. Less discomfort and uncertainty during meetings. In an unhealthy workplace, people are afraid to speak up. But, with the help of good work relationships, you’ll feel empowered to share your ideas. More support from your colleagues. Work can be stressful. You’ll need moral and practical support when times get tough. Good work colleagues will step up for you when you ask, and you’ll do the same for them.If these benefits don’t convince you to start improving communication at work, then not much else will!  Improving communication at work and building good work relationships can take hard work. It requires time, patience, and self-awareness. But putting in the effort and leveraging technology to help will help you feel more connected to your colleagues and increase your overall job satisfaction. Learning how to build rapport is often the first step to building strong relationships.  Humantelligence can help do this for you and your teams. Let's get started.

How to Maximize Team Collaboration to Boost Productivity & Engagement
How to Maximize Team Collaboration to Boost Productivity & Engagement

Surveying 1,000 employees and managers across the United States to explore their most pressing workplace concerns in the current environment, Lucid research revealed a need for better tools to support virtual team collaboration and productivity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While over 90% of C-suite executives rated productivity as their biggest concern, a staggering 75% of employees responded that collaboration is actually what’s suffered the most since transitioning to working from home.  In truth, productivity and collaboration are directly linked. Increase your team’s collaborative potential, and you’ll increase their productivity. The key to doing both is adopting agile workflows and processes that allow for iteration, exploration, and meaningful collaboration. One thing is clear: businesses should adopt new solutions and a different approach to ensure employees can ideate together to efficiently produce better work than ever before. So let’s talk about the power of collaborative pairs at work. This can take the form of workplace mentoring or coaching and is a cost-effective way for existing, well-trained or experienced employees to provide guidance and knowledge to less-experienced employees or to employees who differ from them. The mentor is typically not the direct manager or supervisor of the mentee, and the outcomes differ, depending on the goals of the pairing. Serving as an example, the mentor helps the mentee develop new skills, become better problem-solvers, build new ways of interacting and behaving, and get acclimated to the work environment. For the mentor, it is a way to practice leadership and development skills and may help them advance within the organization. It’s also an opportunity for mentors or coaches to learn from those who are different from themselves. And as employees settle into remote and hybrid work arrangements, collaborative pairing/coaching/mentoring is an opportunity to connect socially, deepened workplace relationships, and formulate creative, innovative or new ideas.  For the company, a mentor/coaching program is also a great way to strengthen employee engagement, reduce turnover, and see productivity increase. There are five common ways companies use mentorship in the workplace. Career Mentoring for Improved Employee Career Development High-Potential Mentoring for Leadership Development Diversity Mentoring for an Inclusive Workplace Reverse Mentoring for Efficient Knowledge Sharing Mentoring Circles for Collaborative LearningWhy Team Collaboration Is Important Collaboration is when two or more people work together through idea sharing and thinking to accomplish a common goal. It doesn’t matter if you are collaborating with someone right next to your cubicle or someone across the country or world; you can now collaborate effectively through technology. Team or peer collaboration can provide solutions, give individuals a strong sense of purpose, and also reinforce that you are all on the same team. If that isn’t enough, here are some other benefits of collaborating: Increased Job Satisfaction & Employee Retention You can’t disagree that when you figure out an answer to a problem, you feel a sense of reward. The same goes for pairs working on a problem and finding a solution to that problem.  As managers and owners, we have to acknowledge when these collaborations succeed and give them credit for the job well done. When employees feel like they are a part of a team, they are more likely to stay at their job. Specifically, the mentor-like collaboration experience has shown to positively influence job satisfaction among employees. According to Forbes, retention rates were significantly higher for mentees (72%) and for mentors (69%) than for employees who did not participate (49%) in a mentor/mentee collaborative pairing. It’s been proven that it is more costly to acquire new talent than it is to retain employees, and mentorship programs can help reduce these costs. Faster Problem Solving We all have those problems or issues that come up, and we need help figuring out what to do. Many times we try to figure out a solution ourselves. If we put together a pair, chances are you will arrive at a solution a lot faster than trying to figure it out yourself. The concept goes back to elementary school and getting someone else to proofread or what they call peer review your school paper. That other person always has new eyes and can see something we missed; the paper always came out better after that peer review. Discover Employee Skills/New Expertise During team collaboration, you may discover a skill or expertise from an employee that you would have otherwise never known. When you allow employees to work together in a team you are taking them out of their normal work environment and allowing them to be creative. When you make space for this kind of work, you will see different strengths from those employees.  While it’s expected that the mentors are improving the skills of the mentees, what professionals may not realize is that the mentors are also improving their skills through knowledge sharing. For example, employees of differing generations paired together could discuss topics like technological changes or how to efficiently structure one’s workday. There is a give and take in collaborative pairings like this. Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Diversity and inclusion are significant challenges for organizations. Mentoring and team collaboration can help promote diversity in leadership by encouraging the sharing of opinions, knowledge, and ideas throughout an organization. A successful mentor program can serve to better attract and retain employees from all different backgrounds and walks of life, while helping current employees become more comfortable with ideas, backgrounds, and experiences other than their own. Creating Power Pairs for Team Collaboration When you first set out to create collaborative mentor/mentee pairs, you will need to decide what your objectives are and how you will measure them, using KPIs like satisfaction scores, learning targets, engagement activity, retention rate, or project goals just to name a few. Once you’ve done the hard work of designing the program and onboarding lots of eager participants, it’s time to match them. The details the participants were required to enter upon sign up – such as background, skills, experience, interests and so on – can be used to match mentees with mentors who can best help them reach their goals. Most of the time, matching mentees with mentors who can best help them reach their goals is done manually by program organizers, and while they often have great knowledge of the objectives and participants this manual matching is naturally subject to human bias and blind spots. As a result, you might not get the most effective pairings, and as a result, productivity between the two will suffer. To maximize team collaboration, use tools designed to support better collaboration. For example, psychometric tools can give you a multi-dimensional snapshot of a person, rather than just a bulleted list of facts from a resume or accomplishments list. It includes comprehensive data on an employee’s critical behaviors, motivators, and work styles, as well as sought-after skills like communication, creativity and adaptability. When you assess this kind of data right alongside cognitive abilities, you’ll find yourself removing unconscious biases and engaging in a more inclusive approach to identifying teaching & learning opportunities for all of your employees.  With a matching tool designed to boost collaboration and that leverages this kind of data, you can easily perform a many-to-many comparison of employee segments or teams so you can see who might be best to match up. This technology uses a similarity score so you can see who’s most similar or drastically different. By clicking on the similarity score, you then reveal a side-by-side comparison of potential coach/mentor and coachee/mentee. When you have your pairs in place – and they set off to learn more about each other, help in each other’s work, or work on a specific project together – you can also equip them with this kind of data so they work with one another more effectively. Imagine being able to click on your mentor or mentee’s name in email, chats, or video meetings, and see real-time tips for communicating, motivating, and learning. Based on their behaviors, motivators, and work energizers, this tool takes the guesswork out of how to best collaborate with one another – freeing up your time to come up with creative, new ideas or solve problems together. Most organizations are striving for increased engagement and long-term retention. Those rates tend to increase when the company prioritizes employee relationship building, mentorship and coaching, team collaboration, as well as learning and growth opportunities. Collaborative mentoring programs are just one of many strategic ways to develop employees and improve retention. We can help you do that.

How to Prioritize Inclusion & Belonging on Your Team
How to Prioritize Inclusion & Belonging on Your Team

If you're a people manager and find yourself asking how to prioritize inclusion & belonging on at work, we can help. At our organization, we firmly believe in the transformative power of diversity. We are committed to fostering an open, team-oriented, and positive environment that allows everyone to thrive, both personally and professionally. By embracing and aligning ourselves with practices that promote inclusion and belonging, we strengthen our culture. In fact, when teams learn how to prioritize inclusion & belonging at work, everyone wins. In this article, we share why it’s important to foster inclusion & belonging on your team and how you can do it. Why Inclusion & Belonging in the Workplace Matters It's not just a buzzword; it's a game-changer. When we talk about diversity, we're referring to various aspects, including workforce diversity, behavioral diversity, structural diversity, and business diversity. By encompassing these dimensions, we unlock a world of benefits for our teams and our business as a whole:Increased Adaptability & Better Problem Solving: Diverse teams bring a wealth of perspectives, experiences, and approaches to the table. This diversity of thought enables us to adapt more quickly to changes and solve problems with a wider range of innovative solutions. Improved Communication & Performance: Embracing diversity leads to better communication among team members. When people from different backgrounds collaborate, they learn to appreciate different viewpoints and communicate more effectively. This synergy ultimately drives improved performance across the board. Attracting and Retaining Talent: Candidates actively seek out diverse workplaces. In fact, studies show that 67% of job seekers consider diversity a crucial factor when evaluating job offers. By fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, we attract top talent and increase our ability to retain valuable employees. Increased Innovation: Innovation thrives in diverse environments. When employees feel included and empowered to share their unique perspectives, creativity soars. According to Deloitte, inclusive workplaces see an impressive 83% increase in innovation.The evidence supporting the benefits of diversity is substantial. Research shows that companies with an equal gender representation generate up to 41% higher revenue. Moreover, a study by McKinsey found that U.S. public companies with diverse executive boards enjoy a staggering 95% higher return on equity compared to homogeneous boards. Additionally, diverse teams experience a 60% improvement in decision-making, and when employees feel included, innovation skyrockets by 83%, as reported by Deloitte. By embracing diversity, inclusion, and belonging, we foster an environment where employees excel at adapting to differences and challenges. Working alongside colleagues of diverse backgrounds and perspectives opens our minds to new ideas and strengthens our interpersonal relationships. Moreover, it equips us to identify creative solutions and build stronger functional, cross-functional, and customer relationships, leading to improved business outcomes. And here are some proven ways for how to prioritize inclusion & belonging at work. How to Prioritize Inclusion & Belonging at WorkRemove Unconscious BiasUnconscious biases, or implicit biases, are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing. For example, if you’re continuing to hire based on a feeling you get from a candidate, you’re likely hiring on the basis of unconscious bias. The best way to prevent yourself from succumbing to these unconscious biases is to become aware of them and take action to prevent them when recruiting, hiring and retaining employees — like leveraging unbiased data to make hiring and personnel decisions.  Tinna C. Neilsen, founder of Move the Elephant for Inclusiveness, said that “The core of inclusion is all about leveraging diversity of thought — a tough thing for a lot of people because sometimes they don’t know enough about group dynamics like group conformity. You can have as much diversity and as many different kinds of people in a team, but if you allow group conformity to dominate, then you’re not going to leverage any of it anyway.”  Regarding workplace diversity and inclusion, Nielsen advises designing interventions that motivate the unconscious mind as opposed to relying on rational thought alone. 2. Build Leadership Buy-in Some leaders might already be more bought-in to DEI. For those who are on the fence, you need to make things personal.  Start the conversation by asking your organization’s leaders specific questions like, ‘Why is DEI important to you personally…or maybe also why it’s not? How does it align with the business for you? How do you plan to hold yourself and our employees accountable?’ Having them understand why DEI is important to them and the business will create a good foundation — and reminder as to why we’re doing this. Creating that emotional connection with your leaders and making DEI personal can help you gain their long-term support. You can also actively engage your leadership in initiatives. Encourage them to be executive sponsors of an employee resource group (ERG)/ affinity group, participate in a DEI steering committee, attend regular DEI training sessions with employees, or just share updates and processes periodically at senior leadership or executive meetings. This helps everyone feel in the know and accountable for improving DEI. Keeping communication open with the C-suite can improve transparency and accountability by ensuring every area of the business feels buy-in for the success of DEI programs.  3. Actively Manage Diversity & Inclusion  The issues around a diverse workplace can be managed and mitigated if employers take active steps to ensure that their companies are recognized for tolerance and acceptance. Here are some tips for managing diversity in the workplace:Create written policies – Companies should create and include their diversity policy in their employee handbook. The policy should contain information about non-discrimination laws, the code of conduct, and the compensation and benefits policy. When it’s in writing, it’s hard to ignore. Provide sensitivity training – Employees should be provided with sensitivity training to create a better workplace culture. Sensitivity training can help employees value views that are different, understand how words and actions can cause offense, and what needs to be done if they’ve been offended. Create an accountability plan – Use regular surveys to check in on your progress, and have a plan in place for how you’re going to ensure staff uphold these policies. Address micro-aggressions – Micro-aggressions are thinly veiled, everyday instances of racism, homophobia, sexism (and more) that you see in the world.  They are defined as a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority. Examples might include commenting on how someone speaks or is dressed. Use trainings to help address and prevent mico-aggressions against others.4. Provide Resources Keep inclusion & belonging top of mind for your employees and encourage them to learn more about pressing societal and workplace issues by providing access to robust resources and self-serve opportunities to learn. Consider some of the following:Weekly or monthly newsletter digests with articles on trending DEI topics Start a #BeTheChange Slack or chat channel, where employees can share experiences, resources, and opportunities to engage in thoughtful conversations  Put a process in place to help employees form affinity or ERG groups — and have each group start and own their own Slack channels Share opportunities to donate to specific diversity-supporting organizations, with a potential company match Provide a forum for employees to present their experiences and learnings  Empower employees with emotional intelligence data so they can communicate and collaborate more effectively and inclusively with employees different from themselvesBy putting resource communication channels just a click away, employees begin talking about DEI more regularly — helping over time to reduce some of the discomfort people have around the topic and creating more organizational accountability. 5. Replace Antiquated Processes A lot of times, the processes, practices, and architecture businesses have in place are antiquated, and we don’t even realize it. Nothing is going to change unless those things change, and people don’t change just because you tell them to. They change when you enable that change. This means empowering choice around structure and architecture while putting tools and resources in front of somebody in order to enable them to do something totally different without them even realizing it.  One of the biggest and quickest levers in moving the  needle for your company culture is in processes for who you hire. Each individual you add or remove will play a part in your culture’s evolution. It’s human nature to hire people like ourselves, so it’s imperative to leverage a variety of networks and tools to support hiring based on diversity of backgrounds/ perspectives vs. simply hiring people to whom you gravitate, happen to already know, or who come recommended. This calls for reshaping antiquated hiring processes — by seeking and interviewing for culture fit/add rather than the traditional skill-based interview.  The Power of Inclusion & Belonging: Communication & Collaboration Leading companies recognize how to prioritize inclusion & belonging at work and that diversity goes beyond race, age, gender, and physical ability—it encompasses diversity of thought. By broadening our definition of diversity and embracing inclusive workplaces, we gain a deeper understanding of our employees and unlock additional solutions to challenges. To foster a culture built on diversity and inclusion, it is crucial to give every employee a voice, truly listen to them, and create an environment where everyone can participate. At our organization, we are committed to removing unconscious bias, hiring for diversity of thought, and supporting inclusive communication.  Inclusion and belonging are essential components of a positive work environment. Inclusion refers to the extent to which individuals feel valued, respected, and supported in the workplace regardless of their background or identity. Belonging refers to the sense of community and connection that individuals feel with their colleagues and the organization as a whole. When employees feel included and a sense of belonging at work, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and productive. Human connection in the workplace can improve inclusion and belonging in several ways. Firstly, when colleagues have positive relationships with each other, they are more likely to understand and appreciate each other’s unique perspectives and backgrounds. This can lead to increased empathy and respect for diversity, which is essential for creating an inclusive work environment. Secondly, having a sense of connection with colleagues can increase trust and psychological safety in the workplace. When individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing their ideas, they are more likely to contribute to the team’s success. A study conducted by Google found that teams with high levels of psychological safety had higher levels of productivity, innovation, and overall performance (Edmondson, 2012). Lastly, human connection in the workplace can promote a culture of collaboration and teamwork. When individuals feel connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to work together and support each other’s success. This can lead to increased creativity and problem solving, as well as a stronger sense of community within the organization. If you're interested in learning how to prioritize inclusion & belonging at work using technology, let's connect!

How to Use Employee Listening to Guide Your Return To Office Strategy
How to Use Employee Listening to Guide Your Return To Office Strategy

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced a mass adoption of remote work, little attention was paid to the long-term implications of a new model for work, and what a return to office strategy might look like. Many celebrated the rise in remote work for the increased flexibility it promised. Increased remote work offered a bigger talent pool, more work-life balance — particularly for caregivers — and the end of onerous commutes. And early numbers showed that remote work increased productivity. As the immediate threat of COVID-19 recedes, will more companies start to question the wisdom of long-term remote work and institute return to office? Making the case for return-to-office Power Home Remodeling, No. 13 on the 2023 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® List, is currently on a hybrid work schedule with a majority of its corporate employees in the office three days a week. The company, headquartered in Chester, Pennsylvania, has been slowly adding days of in-person work to its schedule, one day at a time, ever since the immediate risks of COVID-19 subsided — a transition that has been necessary for their employees' well-being. Power Home Remodeling hopes to one day make the transition back to full-time in office when the time is right for their people. “I think that people are happier and healthier and thrive when they are in-person and when they are sharing the same space with one another,” says Asher Raphael, co-CEO of the full-service exterior home remodeler. A big part of the philosophy for Power Home Remodeling is in response to the impact of remote work on younger employees. Researchers told The New York Times that remote work enhanced productivity for senior employees, but reduced feedback and oversight for more junior employees. Young employees are not getting the mentorship and training in remote roles that can be found from in-person work. When asking its 3,700 employees to return to the office, Raphael focuses on the responsibilities that co-workers have for one another. “We spoke to employees about what their role in our community is, and that what the data clearly showed from virtual work: people that were the most hurt were newer people,” Raphael says. “For those people, their overall happiness wasn’t as high … their retention wasn't as good, and it’s because they weren’t receiving the type of mentorship, they weren’t creating the types of relationships, they weren’t being led the same way.” Power Home Remodeling has strong values around service and working for something that is bigger than oneself, which the company has invoked when asking employees to return to the office. Even if it was more convenient to work remotely, employees were open to a message about the importance of coming into the office to support their colleagues. “The overwhelming majority of people felt either an initial want to come back, or they felt a level of responsibility for the other people around them,” Raphael says. Listening and responding Even though the company is adamant about its desire to bring employees back to the office, leaders are making a concerted effort to listen to employees. Raphael boils it down to one essential question: “What were the things that employees didn't enjoy about being in-person every single day that are in our control and are not mission-critical?” Power took time to investigate company norms that no longer served its needs, even down to the dress code. “Our dress code was corporate attire — I wore a suit and a tie to work literally every single day for 18 years,” Raphael says. “That was something that people really didn’t want to go back to, and that’s an example of something that you can change to make people more comfortable.” Power also saw an opportunity to support working parents by helping to subsidize $416 a month of childcare costs. “It doesn’t go far enough,” Raphael says, “but it was a really big help in supporting people that had no childcare costs while working remotely … so that they don't feel like they’re having to make a decision between putting their kid in daycare or making a living.” Letting the lease expire Creative Alignments, a small recruiting firm based in Boulder, Colorado, was no stranger to remote work before the pandemic. A portion of the company’s total headcount had already been remote prior to the pandemic, and flexible schedules were the norm, said Shenna Fitzgerald, marketing director for Creative Alignments. “During the pandemic, obviously we pivoted to working remotely and staying safe,” she said. “And we really found that it worked well, and there were a lot of benefits to it as well.” Work-life balance is one of the strongest reasons for the change, Fitzgerald continued, with an all-remote setup enabling employees to better manage their schedules, focus on work and take care of their personal lives without needing to commute. “I think people really do cherish that flexibility,” she said. The company also has benefited from a recruitment standpoint, as remote work has allowed it to expand its reach beyond the Boulder area. That, in turn, has allowed Creative Alignments to attract a more diverse talent pool, Fitzgerald said. She noted that, given the company’s experience with recruiting candidates for other firms, its staff were aware of the importance that candidates place on flexibility in the current market. For the duration of 2020, the company kept its office space open to those who wished to attend while instructing employees to communicate with each other so as to ensure sufficient space for social distancing. Few took advantage of the opportunity. “Our lease was up in January and we decided not to renew,” Fitzgerald said, “because remote work was working well, and that’s what people wanted.” But Creative Alignments still recognizes that in-person gatherings have a place; the company meets every other week at a local club for an all-hands meeting, followed by lunch and additional team meetings. And in the future, Fitzgerald said the company has not entirely ruled out opening a physical space that employees can use if they so choose but there are no plan for a return to office policy. Going slow for return-to-office The most important thing when deciding on your workforce arrangement is going slow. Leaders should continue to listen and work with employees as companies attempt to add more in-person workdays to the weekly schedule, or decide if a full return to office is what employees want. As a workforce, we had to upend people’s routines when we were forced to go remote. We now have the freedom to not do that and give people time to build up a new routine and to embrace change, however that looks for them. Whether you end up introducing hybrid or permanently remote work environments, be sure the technology and resources you provide employees is designed to foster human connection, effective communication, productive collaboration,  and meeting effectiveness -- that could spell the difference between a satisfied and engaged team or one heading for the door.

Improving Employee Retention: A Must-Do List
Improving Employee Retention: A Must-Do List

A fast employee churn rate can lead to higher training costs, low employee morale, and operational inefficiencies. Eventually, it can reduce your profits and negatively impact your bottom line. That’s why it’s important for businesses to learn how to prepare for it and, better yet, work to improve employee retention. While there may be signs that the Great Resignation is easing slightly, the ongoing exodus of workers is a challenge leaders will have to contend with for the foreseeable future. A Workhuman® iQ survey of more than 3,500 workers in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Canada offers some revealing insights into the root causes of why employees are leaving their jobs – and a road map on how companies of all sizes can retain more of their talented humans. Employee Turnover By the Numbers Overall, nearly 38% of those surveyed by Workhuman are planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months. This projected voluntary turnover has the potential to cost businesses billions.  In fact, according to Gallup, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one half to two times the employee’s annual salary -- and that's a conservative estimate. So, a 100-person organization that provides an average salary of $50,000 could have turnover and replacement costs of approximately $660,000 to $2.6 million per year. In addition, nearly 19 million people either change occupations or exit the labor force each year, creating an average turnover rate of 20%. Top Reasons for Plummeting Employee Retention Employee Burnout & Dissatisfaction with Opportunities Salary isn’t the only reason workers are leaving their jobs. It should be no surprise many workers are reevaluating their jobs considering the stress and isolation they’ve endured these past few years.  A March 2022 survey by the Pew Research Center found that while low pay was the primary reason people left their jobs last year, it was closely followed by respondents saying they lacked opportunities for advancement in their role. And 35% of people said that feeling disrespected at work was a major reason they left. One study from the University of Chicago found that employees worked more hours during the pandemic, but their productivity dropped. For many people, working for the past two years may feel like running on a treadmill that never turns off.  Research by Mental Health America and FlexJobs shows that 76% of respondents agreed that workplace stress affects their mental health and have experienced burnout. Burnout is an extreme form of workplace stress whereby the stress you are experiencing makes way for mental and emotional exhaustion. The World Health Organization (WHO) characterizes burnout by three main dimensions:Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion Increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job Reduced professional efficacyFlexibility & The Remote vs. Return Debate The pandemic forced a dramatic shift in the employer-employee relationship. It’s also helped workers realize what really matters when it comes to their careers. In Workhuman’s survey, nearly one-third (30%) of those workers planning to look for a new job cited, “I want more flexibility” as their primary reason for doing so. That number jumped to 39% for Black workers. So that’s when work gets done. Let’s talk about where works gets done. Reverting to a fully in-person workplace: Just 3% of white-collar workers want to return to the office full-time (according to survey results published by Fortune), and more than half of respondents in multiple surveys have shown workers will consider leaving their company if forced into full-time in-person workplaces, and many speculate this is a foundational, long-term shift in worker expectations. Switching to a fully remote workplace: Globally, about 16% of companies are fully remote, and those who have embraced a fully remote workforce are both setting expectations among workers about what the workplace experience should and shouldn’t entail (flexibility, autonomy; savings of cost and time associated with the elimination of the daily commute; lifestyle flexibility to keep their job if they want to relocate to a different city, state or even country). Supporting a hybrid workforce: This is the model most workers say they want — not to be fully remote full-time, but a position that gives them the flexibility to work remotely when and how they need. The statistics are compelling — in a global survey conducted by Slack, 78% of respondents said they wanted workplace location flexibility, and 95% said they wanted schedule flexibility. Finally, a study highlighted by Harvard Business Review found that 59% of workers find flexibility more important than salary. It suggests that workers seek autonomy to decide when and where they work rather than a set hybrid schedule of in-person and remote work days. If employers aren’t willing to extend flexible scheduling to their workers, people are ready to take their skills elsewhere. Poor Manager-Employee Connection The shift in where work gets done, with increased flexibility, is good for employees. But for organizations and people leaders, it makes the need for clear, consistent communication even more important. Leaders can no longer rely on word-of-mouth or quick lunchroom conversations for important information about company initiatives to circulate throughout the organization.  Data from the Workhuman’s survey report shows that frequent check-ins are critical in the manager-employee relationship. Employees were asked to rate their manager on a scale of 1-10 based on how well their manager keeps them motivated and engaged. When managers check in at least weekly, their rating is nearly 2x higher than managers who never check in. Likewise, workers who received feedback within the last month – as opposed to never – are much more likely to feel a sense of connection to their company as a whole. For strategies on how to lead with empathy and establish meaningful connection with team members, check out this article.  Psychological Safety to Boost Employee Retention Today, there’s a more nuanced lens on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging – and it’s called psychological safety – that companies should address to stay competitive in this job market.  Workers resoundingly express dissatisfaction with a workplace culture where their voices aren’t heard, blame-placing is rampant, or any one of many toxic elements in an organization’s culture may exist.  What they are really talking about is a lack of psychological safety. First coined by Amy Edmondson in a 1999 journal exploring its relationship to team learning and performance, psychological safety is the ability to speak one’s mind without fear of punishment or embarrassment.  At the heart of a psychologically safe environment is a sense of belonging with or being accepted by others.  Feeling accepted reduces anxiety associated with interpersonal risk, allowing learning to occur. Learning improves the quality and frequency of contributions, and ultimately leads workers to identify and own productivity and efficiency improvements. Looking again at the issue of working remotely, surveys also show that worker apprehension and anxiety about their working location and conditions are improved dramatically when their organizational leaders and managers are clear and transparent about the decision-making process, especially when employees are given a voice in the process.  Being inclusive creates a sense of belonging and makes employees less likely to go find it elsewhere. The Best Ways to Increase Employee Retention While we may be a ways away from a Great Retention, research from Robert Half suggests that many workers remain confident about their prospects in the current hiring market, which means employers must still be vigilant about the risk of top performers walking out the door. Robert Half’s Job Optimism Survey of more than 2,400 professionals, which tracks worker sentiment on current and future career prospects, finds that 41% of respondents planned to look for a new role in the second half of 2022. So, now is the time to confirm that your business is doing the right things to help drive employee job satisfaction and, ultimately, the retention of highly valued talent. Here are the top areas to focus on. ✔Mentorship programs & learning development opportunities ✔Professional advancement or internal mobility in the company ✔Wellbeing offerings and recognition  ✔Embracing flexibility in how and where work gets done ✔Continuous feedback on performance  ✔Open communication  ✔Emphasis on collaborative teamwork At the end of the day, decreasing employee turnover and increasing employee retention doesn’t just help your company; it helps your people. An employee who feels connection to others is an employee who is most likely to engage. And an employee who can fully engage is an employee who feels compelled to stay. 

Managing Distributed Teams: 5 Red Flags & 4 Ways to to Them Green
Managing Distributed Teams: 5 Red Flags & 4 Ways to to Them Green

Managing distributed teams is challenging, but remote work has become the norm. Globally, more and more employers are embracing flexible schedules for their remote teams leading to new remote work trends and more remote work options. What many companies fail to pay attention to is the impact on culture. With a bevy of savvy job seekers and your current employees evaluating new opportunities everyday, let’s explore a few red flags when it comes to managing distributed teams and how you can turn them green. Managing Distributed Teams as the Norm According to TECLA, 85 percent of managers believe that having managing distributed teams and having remote workers is now the norm. What’s more, the share of online job searches for remote positions jumped 460 percent in the two years between June 2019 and June 2021, according to an analysis by Glassdoor. Trends show that businesses will continue to adopt a hybrid or remote-first approach to their working environment. In fact, 79 percent of the C-Suite would let their employees split their time between corporate offices and remote working if their job allows for it. These digital workplaces and location-agnostic arrangements will allow employees greater freedom and control over their schedules, giving them the power to decide where and when they work. It will also allow companies to save on overhead costs and free up budget to focus on other people-focused initiatives – like creating a more equitable remote work culture. 5 Warning Signs Your Distributed Team Might Be Suffering When it comes to remote work, it can be challenging to maintain or shift company culture in ways that empower all employees. Here are some warning signs or red flags that indicate you don’t have an empowering remote work culture.No onboarding program specific to remote new-hires or for a remote work culture: If your company hasn’t taken the time to learn how to train remote employees — from how to use their technology to best practices for communicating and collaborating with teams — it probably hasn’t spent a lot of time thinking about how to onboard new employees virtually. This signals a lack of investment and, potentially, a lack of support. No social events that mix remote and non-remote employees: If your company hasn’t figured out how to routinely host events that encourage remote and non-remote employees to get to know each other, it’s being the opposite of inclusive – that’s right, exclusive to its in-office employees. Loneliness and a lack of visibility are two commonly cited downsides of working remotely — but they’re issues that are pretty easily overcome with effort from employers. No procedures for meetings that mix remote and non-remote employees: If your team is made up of remote and non-remote employees, and you don’t have standards for how to make sure everyone is included and heard, you’re not valuing the remote experience. Employers who care about supporting their remote employees make sure that meeting rooms have the proper technology and that leaders know how to make the proper space — and they make sure these standards are followed every time. Digital communication tools are not prioritized: In managing distributed teams, people can't have impromptu conversations. However, there are plenty of synchronous and asynchronous communication tools to help address the gaps that can occur when some people are not physically present. If digital tools that support better communication and collaboration have not been set in place or prioritized by management, and teams haven't been advised on how to optimize them, then you’re not setting your teams up for success. No highly visible roles are held by remote employees: If an employer calls themselves “remote-friendly” but doesn’t have anyone in leadership roles working remotely, it’s worth asking why. If working remotely is reserved for roles with no upward mobility — or no organizational weight — you cannot claim to have an empowering remote work culture.Quick Improvements for Managing Distributed Team To turn your red flags green, here are some quick actions to start now. Start:Valuing behaviors, motivators, and competencies Praising innovative thinking and initiative Encouraging people to speak up and provide feedback Building traditions with your team Using team collaboration tools to help team members connect and communicate more effectivelyStop:Valuing titles and position Over-praising rules & punishing for broken rules Allowing information to flow via channels of gossip Creating silos of work and US vs. THEM situations Relying on engagement surveys to identify & measure cultureChange:Communication to a clearer, accountable, and more honest version of its former self. Allow people to ask for the “why” behind decisions, and be patient and open in explaining that. Double down on communication -- just when you think you’ve communicated enough, do more! The physical environment in ways that support your cultural values and help to shape the behavior of groups in a positive way -- now more than ever, this means enabling better remote and hybrid work environments that are rooted in trust. Any practices that are perceived as unfair. It might mean redesigning how you do things -- but remember bullet one...explaining the “why” can be game changing.Below are four long-term recommendations that will help you remove any remote work inequities, so that your remote work culture can thrive. Make Meetings a Place to Connect PWC’s Remote Work survey found that employees and employers alike prize aspects of virtual work, such as flexibility, as well as the office experience, such as in-person collaboration. Ideally, a distributed work environment can offer the best of both worlds. But just know that hybrid environments also carry the real risk of bias in favor of those who are physically working on site — and stigmatize those who are working remotely. As physical offices reopen, employees who come back to offices and prioritize in-person interactions could end up having an edge over others who remain working from home, either by choice or circumstances. It’s a subconscious bias that can lead to managers or other decision makers offering more or better opportunities to the people they see, rather than the employees on the phone or video. That said, meetings are a prime opportunity to level the playing field and create better inclusion. What follows is a short but immediately impactful list of some of the most effective ways you can start fostering a more inclusive approach to conducting meetings:Prep and send your agenda ahead of time: If you’re organizing a meeting, provide your meeting agenda one day ahead of time. By sending out an agenda in advance, you’re designing a more inclusive meeting. Be accessible: Some video conferencing solutions offer live closed captions, which appear as someone speaks, for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. There is also video meeting software available for people who are blind/have low vision and use screen readers that turn text, images, and other elements into audio or braille. Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and BlueJeans all offer live closed captions that are created by artificial intelligence. Zoom offers live closed captioning if you type them in yourself or use a third-party service. All of these programs are also screen reader accessible. Leverage all of the different features your video platform has to make it easier for everyone to contribute. For example, the hand raise feature can allow someone to signal when they have something to say, which can be useful for people who don’t like to interject. Break groups up so that people who have trouble speaking in larger settings have a chance to contribute ideas with just a few colleagues. For instance, if you’re having the team brainstorm for an upcoming project, you could split them up into smaller breakout groups for a set period of time, and then have a representative from each group report back with the ideas. The private chat function is also helpful for managers to help people who have trouble thinking on the spot. Rather than calling on someone without warning, chat them and let them know you’d like them to share XYZ in a few minutes. This will help them prepare, and they can also alert you if they need more time. As a meeting attendee, you can also use the chat feature to encourage a fellow colleague to share an important idea. Gather feedback: You could also deploy a survey that covers video meeting inclusivity. Afterwards, disaggregate the data to look at race, gender, and other demographics, and you might find larger quantities of feedback from particular groups, such as women of color or those who identify as LGBTQ+, common feedback themes or specific issues among particular identities on your team.Invest in Technology for Managing Distributed Teams In the coming year, companies will continue to rely on software solutions to improve engagement and company culture. In addition to the standard team communication and document-sharing solutions, HR teams are paying more attention to team collaboration solutions that integrate with their HRIS. Our list of top must-have tools to manage distributed teams include:Team Chat AppsWhile everyone has access to email and text messaging, businesses need to provide a special venue for spontaneous and seamless communications. Team chat software tools offer improved communication for everyone on your team. The best tools in this category allow for impromptu conversations and the ability to share messages, ideas, documents and videos.Remote Desktop SoftwareEmployees working at home might occasionally run into problems that only IT professionals can solve. It is much easier, efficient and cost-effective for IT team members to access desktops via remote software tools than visit employees’ homes for quick troubleshooting.Video Conferencing ToolsOver the past few years, video conferencing tools have become increasingly popular, helping businesses connect with remote-based and traveling workers. The remote revolution spurred by COVID-19 has brought even more businesses into the video conferencing mix. Business leaders have discovered that video conferencing tools enhance engagement, increase productivity, provide clarification in collaboration, and lower communication costs.Project Management AppsProject management apps are effective tools for in-house work as well as remote work. The best project management tools allow for improved communications and collaboration, better scheduling to keep the project on track, enhanced communication with clients, easier task delegation, standardized processes, and streamlined budget management.Screen-Recording SoftwareScreen-recording software has become an invaluable tool for employees in various contexts. For employees working in customer contact centers, screen recording instantly provides a record of every chat session with customers to help ensure quality service. Employees working collaboratively can share snapshots of online research material snippets to get to the point of an article quickly and carry on the discussion.Screen-Sharing ToolsScreen-sharing tools work in conjunction with several tools listed. Your employees can take screen recordings with screen-sharing capabilities and share them with colleagues and management in chat app sessions, video conferences, and direct communications via email and text.Cloud Storage ServicesCloud storage services help employees maintain more control over their off-site work environment, managing documents and files with more support and ease. Since employees are often responsible to help ensure data is secure and accessible, cloud storage benefits have become invaluable remote work tools.To-Do List ToolsMost of your employees have repetitive daily tasks or steps to complete multifaceted processes that can get lost in the mix without special attention. It’s easy to get distracted in any circumstance — but especially when working remotely. To-do list tools can provide prompts and reminders to keep employees on track.Wellbeing AppsMany companies interested in improving employee retention are focusing on workplace wellness. Why? Because improved health and wellness leads to increased productivity, better employee focus, and company health care savings. Regardless of whether or not your company has an official wellness program, you can still take steps toward healthier habits during your workday. Here are 7 seven wellness apps to consider providing for your team.Security ToolsNo matter how diligent your employees are about peak home security, they might need improved security tools — especially working with your organization’s confidential documents. Key security tools to consider include a VPN, PC threat monitoring, and secure file-sharing and cloud collaboration.Brainstorming and Mind-Mapping ToolsYou don’t want to lose your team’s brainstorming momentum because nearly everyone is working remotely. With online whiteboards and mind-mapping tools, your team can virtually maintain the collaborative nature of brainstorming.Inclusion & Emotional IntelligenceWhat most of these technologies do is connect devices and teams, but they do not build the person-to-person connection. And when your team is hybrid or remote, one of the most important critical components for a team's wellbeing and productivity is a sense of inclusion and belonging. An inclusive approach to communication requires emotional intelligence. That leads us to our next recommendation. Lead with Empathy As a leader charged with managing distributed teams, you set the example. In any team, remote or not, it is crucial to be mindful and considerate of your colleagues as whole people. While this may sound simple, we’re often not great at considering things outside our immediate range of experience. Here’s what you can do to foster this in your team.Create regular virtual opportunities for your team to meet, both formally and informally, and encourage them to share more about themselves, their families and personal interests. As a team, create and nurture an environment where it is encouraged to express a more personal side of yourself. More social communication of this kind is related to higher levels of trust in remote teams. Ask questions...demonstrate that you have listened and that you care by asking questions because you want to learn more. In addition to asking the other person questions, ask yourself questions like, “How would I feel or what would I do in this situation? Assume positive intent. Remote work and the endless flood of information and online communication can easily lead to misunderstandings, turning what was supposed to be fast and easy communication into a source of frustration. Assuming negative intentions where there are none will soon crush a team’s dynamic. Developing your empathy skills will help you escape these negative emotions and work towards better collaboration. Listen more. Encourage open communication between yourself and your remote team and its members, and focus on listening to what your employees are saying -- not just waiting to speak. To be empathetic, you have to key in on what the other person is saying, both nonverbally and verbally. Emotions can be seen and heard. You can pick up on feelings based on what the other person says and how they say it, including their tone. Identify and challenge your biases. We are all biased. People tend to approach situations with preconceived notions. It helps people feel prepared for situations. It helps people to feel in control and more comfortable. But preconceived notions, assumptions. or biases make it difficult to listen fully. Work on identifying them and challenging these biases to improve empathy and become more inclusive of different perspectives. Develop a safe space. The highest-performing teams have one thing in common: psychological safety — the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. Studies show that psychological safety allows for moderate risk-taking, speaking your mind, creativity, and sticking your neck out without fear of having it cut off — just the types of behavior that lead to breakthroughs or innovations. So how can you increase psychological safety on your own team?In the end, one of the easiest ways to practice empathy is to offer your support and tangible help. Sometimes, it is not enough to say, “I’m sorry to hear this.” Instead, say, “I’d like to help.” Or, “How can I support you?” Or, “What can I take off your plate?” Showing that you are willing to take time and energy to do something for someone else can go a long way to demonstrate you’re an empathetic leader. It shows that you are willing to invest your time in them. Empathy and emotional intelligence in the workplace allows employees to better understand each other. When employees understand each other, they can better work together, and teams can be effective and productive. Leaders have the ability to empathize, and by empathizing they inspire others to be caring, and that trickles down. The result: healthier, more inclusive, productive teams. To learn more about how Humantelligence can help you in managing distributed teams, contact us.

Mastering Collaboration: Your Guide for Working Effectively with Gen Z
Mastering Collaboration: Your Guide for Working Effectively with Gen Z

In today's workforce, collaboration -- specifically collaborating with Gen Z -- is key to achieving success. And as organizations become more diverse, it is essential to understand and effectively work with team members from different generations. In particular, Generation Z (Gen Z), which refers to individuals born between 1997 and 2012, has unique characteristics and work styles that require HR professionals and team leaders to adapt their strategies. From embracing AI tools to providing training tailored to Gen Z, this article will help you navigate the challenges of working with Gen Z team members and foster intergenerational dynamics for a more collaborative and productive workplace. Understanding the Gen Z mindset Understanding the Gen Z mindset in the workplace is crucial when it comes to collaborating with Gen Z. As digital natives, Gen Z individuals have grown up surrounded by technology, which has had a profound impact on their thoughts and behaviors. This generation values instant gratification, diversity, and individuality. They are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and desire for meaningful work. Understanding these characteristics will enable HR professionals and team leaders to tailor their approach and create a collaborative environment that resonates with Gen Z team members. One way to understand the Gen Z mindset is by recognizing their desire for continuous learning and growth. This generation thrives on new challenges and opportunities to acquire new skills. By providing ongoing training and development programs, organizations can harness the full potential of Gen Z team members. Moreover, acknowledging their preference for a diverse workplace will foster an inclusive and collaborative environment. In the next section, we will delve deeper into strategies for effectively communicating with Gen Z team members and how to leverage their digital skills to drive collaboration. Stay tuned for an in-depth exploration of the Gen Z mindset and practical tips for working collaboratively with this generation. How to create a collaborative work environment Creating a collaborative work environment is essential for effectively working with Gen Z team members. This generation thrives in environments that promote teamwork, communication, and collaboration. Here are some strategies to foster collaboration: 1. Encourage open communication: Gen Z team members appreciate transparency and value open communication. Create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their ideas, opinions, and concerns. Regularly schedule team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and one-on-one check-ins to facilitate open dialogue. 2. Embrace flexible work arrangements: Gen Z individuals value work-life balance and appreciate flexibility. Consider implementing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible working hours. This will help them feel empowered and motivated to contribute their best work. 3. Utilize technology tools: Gen Z team members are tech-savvy and comfortable with various digital tools. Leverage technology platforms and collaborative software to streamline communication, project management, and document sharing. This will enhance productivity and efficiency. 4. Foster a supportive culture: Create a culture of support and empowerment, in which team members feel valued and encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives. Recognize and reward their achievements, and provide constructive feedback to help them grow professionally. By leading with these strategies, you can create a collaborative work environment that engages and motivates Gen Z team members, leading to increased productivity and better outcomes for your organization. Leveraging technology for collaborating with Gen Z Leveraging technology is paramount for effective collaboration with Gen Z team members. This generation is highly skilled in utilizing digital tools and expects to have access to the latest technology in the workplace. By incorporating technology into your collaboration efforts, you can enhance communication, streamline project management, and foster a sense of connectedness among team members. For example, it is wise to invest in a psychometric-based tool that helps teams better understand each other so they can collaborate and connect more meaningfully in meetings, on Slack, or via email. Utilizing technology doesn’t only bridge the generation gap but also makes the younger generation feel valued and needed in the workplace.  Investing in collaboration platforms and applications will also enable real-time communication and document sharing, eliminating the need for back-and-forth emails and increasing efficiency. Gen Zers are accustomed to instant messaging and video conferencing, so consider implementing tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams for seamless communication.  Fortunately, it’s also easy to leverage AI tools to kick your training and internal communication up a notch. Say you have a new Gen Z hire that needs to email the head of sales, John, every week with reported leads. The problem is, they hardly know John, and have no idea how John likes to consume information. With an AI tool that utilizes your company's previously recorded psychometric data, the new hire can use pre-supplemented suggestions to ensure their emails are comprehensive and useful for John, despite having never interacted with him before. This AI-fueled approach to “on-the-fly” training can extend beyond emails to all communications, ultimately helping Gen Z employees learn new skills and making their contributions to the business more impactful. Additionally, project management tools such as Trello or Asana can help keep everyone on track, assign tasks, and monitor progress. By utilizing technology in these ways, you can create a collaborative work environment that aligns with the preferences and expectations of Gen Z, ultimately leading to improved teamwork and successful outcomes. Communication strategies with Gen Z team members Effective communication is essential for successful collaboration with Gen Z team members. This generation has grown up with instant messaging and social media, and they prefer quick and concise communication methods. Here are some strategies to enhance collaboration through communication: First, establish clear expectations regarding communication channels. Discuss with your Gen Z team members which platforms they prefer for specific types of communication, such as formal emails for official updates and instant messaging for quick questions or updates. Second, encourage open and transparent communication. Gen Z team members value authenticity and appreciate when their opinions and ideas are heard. Create a safe and inclusive space where they can freely express themselves. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of visuals and multimedia in your communication. This is, after all, the video generation! Gen Z team members respond well to visual content, so consider incorporating infographics, videos, and images to convey information in a more engaging way. By implementing these communication strategies, you can foster a collaborative environment where Gen Z team members feel valued and can contribute their best work. Nurturing a culture of inclusivity and diversity Nurturing a culture of inclusivity and diversity is crucial when working effectively with Gen Z team members. This generation values equality and appreciates a diverse and inclusive work environment. Here are some ways to promote inclusivity and diversity within your team: First, educate yourself and your team on the importance of inclusivity and diversity. Understand the different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences that each team member brings to the table. Encourage open dialogue and discussions about diversity-related topics. Second, establish inclusive policies and practices. Consider implementing initiatives such as unconscious bias training, diverse recruitment strategies, and equal representation in decision-making processes. Celebrate and recognize the contributions of every team member. Encourage a culture of appreciation and respect for diversity by giving credit where it is due and acknowledging the unique skills and perspectives that Gen Z team members bring. By creating an inclusive and diverse work environment, you can foster collaboration with and innovation among Gen Z team members, leading to better overall team performance. Recognizing and appreciating Gen Z contributions Gen Z team members are incredibly talented and innovative individuals who bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table. Recognizing and appreciating their contributions is essential for fostering collaboration and maintaining a positive work environment. Here are some ways to ensure that Gen Z team members feel valued and appreciated: Firstly, provide regular feedback and recognition. Gen Z employees thrive on feedback and appreciation for their work. Take the time to acknowledge their achievements and skills, whether it's through a simple thank you note or a public commendation in team meetings. By doing so, you are not only boosting their morale but also motivating them to continue delivering exceptional results. Next, provide opportunities for growth and development. Gen Z employees are keen on continuous learning and professional development. Offer them opportunities to attend workshops, conferences, or training programs. This investment in their growth will show that you value their career advancement and are committed to their long-term success. Lastly, involve Gen Z team members in decision-making processes. Their fresh perspectives can offer valuable insights and innovative solutions. Encourage them to participate in brainstorming sessions or include them in projects that require creative thinking and problem-solving. By doing so, you are empowering them to contribute to the team's success and instilling a sense of ownership in their work. Acknowledging Gen Z team members for their contributions is crucial for creating a collaborative and productive work environment. By offering feedback, providing growth opportunities, and involving them in decision-making, you are not only fostering their professional development but also maximizing their potential to drive innovation within the team. Overcoming challenges working with Gen Z While Gen Z team members bring immense talent and a fresh perspective to the table, it's important to acknowledge that there may be some challenges in working with them – just like any generation that’s entered the workforce. Understanding and addressing these challenges can significantly enhance collaboration and teamwork. One common challenge is the need for constant feedback and validation. In fact, new studies show that at least a couple of times a week, more than half of Gen Z, 54%, want praise from bosses for their efforts at work, according to data by Australian research firm McCrindle. Almost three in five Gen Zers seek constructive feedback about how they can improve in their role at least a couple of times per week. Gen Z is also accustomed to receiving instant gratification and may expect constant praise for their work. As a leader, it's crucial to set clear expectations and provide constructive feedback regularly while balancing praise to maintain motivation. Another challenge lies in effectively managing their technological reliance. Gen Z employees are highly tech-savvy and prefer digital communication channels. It's important to establish clear boundaries and guidelines for communication to ensure effective collaboration while also providing opportunities for face-to-face interactions to foster stronger relationships within the team. Additionally, Gen Z employees value work-life balance and prioritize flexibility. To ensure their productivity and satisfaction, consider offering flexible work hours or remote work options whenever possible. By addressing these areas, leaders can create a collaborative environment that maximizes the potential of Gen Z team members while maintaining productivity and teamwork. The benefits of effectively collaborating with Gen Z In the end, collaborating effectively with Gen Z team members can bring numerous benefits to an organization. Harnessing their unique skills and perspectives can lead to innovative solutions and fresh ideas. Gen Z employees are often tech-savvy and can offer valuable insights into utilizing digital tools and platforms to streamline processes and enhance productivity. By encouraging collaboration, leaders can tap into the creativity and resourcefulness of Gen Z team members, leading to increased efficiency and problem-solving capabilities. Furthermore, effective collaboration with Gen Z team members fosters a positive and inclusive work culture. By embracing their need for constant feedback and validation, leaders can build a supportive environment where individuals feel heard and valued. This, in turn, boosts morale, motivation, and engagement among Gen Z employees, resulting in higher job satisfaction and decreased turnover rates. Embracing collaborating with Gen Z for organizational success Collaboration is an essential component for organizational success in today's fast-paced and evolving business landscape. This is especially true when it comes to working effectively with Gen Z team members. In this article, we have explored the numerous benefits that come from collaborating with Gen Zers in the workplace, along with different tactics that can empower you to build successful partnerships with this talented generation. From their tech-savviness and ability to offer valuable insights into digital tools and platforms, to their creativity and resourcefulness, Gen Z team members bring a fresh perspective that can enhance productivity and problem-solving capabilities. By embracing their need for constant feedback and validation, leaders can create a positive and inclusive work culture that fosters high morale, motivation, and engagement. We have also discussed the challenges that may arise when collaborating with Gen Z employees. However, armed with the actionable strategies and techniques, you will be well-equipped to overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of collaboration with Gen Z team members. If you’re looking for ways to tailor your onboarding, training, and collaboration strategies for Gen Z, we can help.

People Before Perks: 10 Tips for People-centric Performance Reviews
People Before Perks: 10 Tips for People-centric Performance Reviews

A new year is upon us, and for HR, you know what that means...performance review prep - what fun! We know what you're thinking but seriously, they can be fun when managers perform them effectively. Good performance reviews put people first. They assess how employees are doing in their current roles, ensure they feel supported, improve employee/manager relations, and provide team members with clear direction when it comes to the competencies in which they need to improve. Monitoring employee performance also helps management teams identify skills gaps and learning opportunities, assign training budgets, and identify hiring needs. Employee performance reviews are important for every business, but their effectiveness depends on how they are conducted. They can empower your employees to reach new heights – or they could drive them away. And with employee engagement at an all-time low, you'll want to be sure your performance reviews are as effective as possible. The Goal of Performance Reviews A people-centric review process, similar to a people-centric onboarding process,  helps your employees identify growth opportunities and potential areas of improvement without damaging employee-manager relations. Still, writing and conducting a strong review isn't easy. Managers often don't receive enough guidance on what an effective and comprehensive review looks like. Compounding the problem, small businesses frequently struggle with limited resources. For example, for a company with 1,000 employees to conduct accurate and helpful performance reviews, a full-time HR staff of 14 is ideal -- sounds luxurious, doesn't it! Regardless of how frequently or in what manner your company conducts performance reviews, these review meetings should benefit employees and managers alike.  Workers gain a better understanding of what they are doing well and where they can improve. They can ask questions, gain clarity, or provide feedback to their managers -- without the fear or retribution. Similarly, managers have the opportunity to communicate expectations with their team, identify their highest performers, correct issues before they escalate, and increase engagement and motivation. In this article, we’ll share with you the 10 best tips for making sure your performance reviews make the right kind of impact on team members.  Tip 1: Include these Areas in Employee Performance Reviews As you prepare your team and people managers to conduct their reviews, here are some helpful reminders to build into your managers’ prep plans. Most employee reviews include assessment of these skills: Communication Collaboration and teamwork Problem-solving Quality and accuracy of work Ability to accomplish goals and meet deadlinesAfter addressing the key areas, you'll need to evaluate and weigh each to get a picture of the employee's overall performance. The way you format and organize this information is up to you as well as your company's needs. Some organizations use a grading system of A through F, numerical scoring or percentages, or written descriptions (e.g., "most of the time," "some of the time"). Whichever system you use, make sure that it is objective and easy to understand. Don't forget to remind your managers to set up time with employees to discuss their findings. It can be helpful to have a written copy of the evaluation to reference and keep your meeting on track. They should deliver transparent feedback, with examples where appropriate, and allot enough time for the employee to ask questions or deliver feedback. Encourage your managers to consider this a two-way conversation. Tip 2: Be Clear & Objective An effective performance review is a chance for managers and employees to start a two-way conversation, communicate clearly, and set tangible goals. After performance reviews, people should understand what’s expected of them and how they’re progressing in their roles. Here are a few pointers to train managers on communicating clearly:Keep language simple and clear — especially when offering constructive feedback Make development goals objective and measurable, so that employees can track progressTip 3: Conduct Performance Reviews Frequently If you want to foster employee success, you should branch beyond the more traditional annual review. So much can change in your organization or with your employees in one year. It’s important to stay aligned and to keep communication open during those changes, not just during annual employee performance reviews. We recommend quarterly or even monthly performance conversations, paired with a year-end or annual review of general themes, notes, progress, and next steps. This allows managers and employees to stay on the same page about goals, progress, and performance. It also helps:Employees understand exactly where they stand and what to do to improve Managers provide real-time coaching to help employees overcome obstacles Organizations benefit from a constant flow of data on individual and team performanceMany organizations are turned off by a quarterly or monthly performance review cadence because it feels like a hefty time commitment. But if you’re having frequent conversations, they don’t need to be long, robust, or comprehensive to be effective. The result of more frequent conversations is ensuring no surprises during an annual review. Tip 4: Make Time for 1:1 Meetings While clear and objective language is important, it can also at times come across as sounding cold. To combat this, create an environment of trust one-on-one with your team members. It may be tempting to just check in when your team is gathered together — especially if you only have a few direct reports or they all have similar goals and tasks. However, taking the time to review each employee individually is crucial because:People have different career goals and need individualized support Employees welcome 1:1 time with their managers to improve rapport Individuals may wish to speak privately about particular goals or struggles Employee strengths and difficulties vary, even if they’re on the same teamTip 5: Encourage the Following Kind of Performance Review Questions One way to determine what makes for a good performance review question is by comparing it to Gallup’s 12 elements of employee engagement, or Q12. You may recognize these affirming statements from the well-known business advice book, First, Break All the Rules. The 12 Elements of Employee EngagementI know what is expected of me at work. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person. There is someone at work who encourages my development. At work, my opinions seem to count. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work. I have a best friend at work. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.Source: Gallup If you’re looking for a way to develop your own performance review questions, one idea is to create questions that gauge whether or not one of the twelve engagement statements is true or false. If you want more detail, or a result that you can track over time, turn a yes/no question into a scored response. Going even further, if you are seeking action items like areas to improve upon or where you can recognize achievement, ask for a response in the form of a list, or, leave the response open-ended. Best Questions for Performance Reviews These questions are for employees to answer during a self-assessment section of the review process.What experience, project, or action are you most proud of since the last review? Which of our company values did you live best in the last few months? How has your manager helped you achieve your goals during the past few months? What do you enjoy most about the work you do? What corporate/personal goals did you accomplish? Which goals fell short? What skill or knowledge do people on your team or at the company rely on you to provide? What project/goal(s) would you like to focus on in the next quarter/six months/year? How were you able to contribute to the company’s current goal of [creating a more inclusive culture, closing more sales, launching a new marketing campaign, etc.]? What would colleagues or clients say about their recent interactions with you? What attributes do I contribute that make up our culture?Best Employee Performance Review Questions for Managers These questions mirror those above but have been phrased to ask a manager about their employee. You can compare the manager’s answers to the employee’s and see if they’re aligned.Describe a meaningful contribution that [Name] has made since the last review. Which company value have you seen [Name] emulating well in the last few months? Describe how you have impacted [Name]’s ability to succeed and grow in their position. What types of projects does [Name] excel at? How has [Name] done with creating and meeting goals over the past few months? What role does [Name] have on the team and what impact have they had? What are some areas of focus/projects that could benefit [Name]? In what way(s) did [Name] contribute to the company’s current goal of [creating a more inclusive culture, closing more sales, launching a new marketing campaign, etc.]? What are some positive interactions you’ve noticed between [Name] and others?Additional Performance Management Assessment Questions Some of these are for employees or managers performing a self-assessment, while others are intended to assess the performance of an employee or manager. You can always be assessing and providing feedback to your employees using these question, when you employ a performance management system.Are you happy at {company name]? What special projects have you worked on this past quarter/year? In what ways can [manager/employee name] improve/help you? Would you recommend working here to your friends? Why or why not? How have you met corporate goals/values this quarter/year? How well have you achieved your goals this past quarter/year? What do you enjoy most about working for [manager/company name]? How do I show my focus on quality work?/How is [Name]’s quality of work? How do I show my focus on clients?/How does [Name] demonstrate a focus on client success? How do I show that I am solution-oriented and responsive in my role?/How does [Name] demonstrate that they are solution-oriented and responsive? What do you hope to be doing within the company one year from now? What about five years from now? What do you want your next position to be at this company? What is one recent project that you have made significant contributions to and how did you contribute? Looking back, how has your manager helped you improve and do your best work? Please share 1-2 examples. Going forward, what do you need from your manager to better support you in your role? Looking back, what have you done to encourage and support [Name] during the past three months? Going forward, what do you need in order to better support [Name] in doing their best work and/or achieving growth? What are your top three priorities for the next 6-12 months? What are your personal development goals (new skill, knowledge, work experience you’d like to acquire) to help you maximize your performance and potential? What training does [Name] need in order to improve? Do you feel comfortable taking risks and approaching your manager with new ideas? Why or why not? What training do you wish you had/would you like to have?Tip 6: Personalize Your Communication During Performance Reviews Yes, being clear and objective is important. But all the question in the world won't make performance reviews impactful if you're not personalizing your communication. Pay close attention to how you phrase your evaluations and communicate with employees. Meaningful and action-oriented words have a far greater impact in employee performance reviews than more standard phrases such as "good" or "satisfactory". Here are five words and expressions that will help you effectively highlight an employee's contributions, based on James E. Neal's Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals (Neal Publications, 2009).  Achievement: Incorporate this into a phrase, such as "achieves optimal levels of performance with/for... " Communication skills: Phrases like "effectively communicates expectations" or "excels in facilitating group discussions" go a long way with an employee. Creativity: Appreciating employees' creative side can make for happier, more motivated staff. In a performance evaluation, try phrases like "seeks creative alternatives," followed by specific examples and results. Improvement: Employees like hearing that they are improving and that it's being noticed. "Continues to grow and improve" and "is continuously planning for improvement" are two constructive phrases to use in a performance review. Management ability: Leadership skills and the ability to manage others are key to employee success. Phrases such as "provides support during periods of organizational change" carry weight with your employee.  Instead of using terms like "good" or "excellent" in a review, opt for more measurement-oriented language. Words like "excels," "exhibits," "demonstrates," "grasps," "generates," "manages," "possesses," "communicates," "monitors," "directs" and "achieves" are more meaningful. As an added bonus, you can take your communication to the next level by leveraging emotional intelligence data. To do it, it just takes a simple plug-in tool, and you have the insights needed to communicate with impact and effectiveness -- especially in sensitive situations. When you focus on how you communicate, when you provide provide, and the kinds of questions you ask, you'll find your employee performance reviews go more smoothly than ever before. Tip 7: Acknowledge Strengths during Performance Reviews Performance reviews aren’t just for spotting what needs improvement — they’re also fantastic opportunities to give credit to your staff for their strengths and achievements, which can often go overlook or unacknowledged during performance reviews. To give employee strengths proper acknowledgment:Include strengths in your review form Give good ratings freely and avoid focusing only on areas for improvement Discuss how the employee has built and maintained their strengths Consider how the employee could transfer strengths to areas for improvement If appropriate, consider if the employee could use their strengths to encourage learning exchanges and coaching within the teamTip 8: Empower with Employee Assessments Performance reviews work best if it’s collaborative rather than top-down process. It's important to provide team members with the kinds of tools that can shed light on their strengths, tendencies, motivators, and work energizers. Consider providing self-assessments prior to performance reviews. Here’s how you can ensure employees are actively participating in their appraisals:Offer staff a chance to prepare a self-assessment so they can take stock of their progress Give employees ownership and responsibility for their own development and progression Discuss employee, peer, and management scores to get a clear understanding of their context Ask employees for their insights on how they align with their role, department and the companyTip 9: Be Aware of Biases We all have it -- biases. We need to be aware of it in order for performance reviews to be as objective as possible. While they must be personalized according to employee strengths and roles, they should still be fair, clear, and objective. Check out these tips to reduce bias in your employee appraisals:Create questions and criteria that take a long view of the review cycle (and previous cycles) rather than simply focusing on recent performance or projects. That will avoid recency bias — i.e., focusing only on recent achievements or issues. Avoid unconscious bias and work to ensure you’re not judging an employee based on your own strengths, abilities, experiences, or personal traits (even if unintentionally). Ensure you evaluate employee achievements based on work quality rather than quantity. For example, the effort they put into a campaign, rather than only results or number of campaigns launched. If you’re conducting several reviews in quick succession, avoid comparing one employee to another. Each person deserves to have their work evaluated based on individual strengths, merits, and development needs. Avoid making conclusions abruptly or without context. If an employee appears disengaged one day, that doesn’t mean they don’t care. They may have had a bad morning or be experiencing problems at home. Try not to let your personal view of the employee impact your judgment. Their performance review is about their career progression and overall skills — not your personal feelings.Tip 10: Keep Feedback Flowing After Performance Reviews In all honesty, performance reviews typically happen once, maybe twice a year, but that does not mean that feedback should be limited to those short review periods. You should encourage your managers to offer consistent assessments throughout the year. Not only does it ensure no surprises when it's annual review time, but it also helps to motivate and engage your employees. Don't catch your people off guard in a performance review. This should not be the first time that they are hearing from you that they are not performing as expected. Be clear in writing, calendar invites, and in setting expectations for the review meeting.  You should also take constant notes on employee performance – especially when there are no performance reviews on the horizon. Employees deserve a robust assessment of their work for the entire period being covered. Far too many performance reviews are based only on what the manager can remember from the last few weeks before the evaluations are due to HR. Managers have to be intentional about taking and filing notes. A great way to keep feedback ongoing is through the use of an employee engagement suite, where managers and employees can continually assess performance and improvement. Performance Reviews for Top Performers Are Necessary Too Don't neglect your top performers. If you're only addressing issues or focusing on the employees who aren't performing, you're missing an opportunity to express gratitude to those who shape the innovation, creativity, and culture within your company. While it's true they may not need as much guidance as other employees, these individuals could lose their passion or motivation if they are not occasionally recognized.  Highly valuable employees who do their job and do it well are often not the priority of concern in performance review cycles, resulting in missed opportunities to communicate how much the organization values the drive and the results of its top performers. And no need to wait for the employee performance reviews to do it. For instance, an unexpected 'keep up the great work' email or a quick phone call or text sends a consistent signal to your employee that you are paying attention and value what they do. In the end, it’s crucial to maintain momentum after performance reviews, making sure that promises and objectives laid out during the process aren't quickly forgotten. A manager should work with the employee to set up deadlines or objectives for each tangible next step — and remember to check in. Keep employees informed on what you’re doing on your side, like setting up training or finding additional hires, and be transparent about changes or roadblocks. Happy reviewing!

Rethinking Employee Onboarding: How to Create Better Human Connection
Rethinking Employee Onboarding: How to Create Better Human Connection

It's no secret...poor onboarding leads to new hires being twice as likely to seek another opportunity, with 43% of managers losing their new hire during the first month. During the current turbulent candidate market, and increased pressure on retaining talent, falling down at the last hiring hurdle isn’t an option when it comes to the employee onboarding experience. The key is creating lasting connections to help employees become passionate, productive team players. It essentially makes your onboarding process sticky. Why Improving Employee Onboarding is Important Only 17% of U.S. employees worked from home five days a week before COVID-19. At the onset of the pandemic, the percentage shot up to 44%. Very quickly, HR understood the the need to improve employee onboarding processes. We all know that onboarding and training plays a critical role in a new hire's success and happiness. And good onboarding is especially important for remote employees, since they don't have as many opportunities to integrate organically into the company culture. According to BCG, employee onboarding is among the most influential factors when it comes to employee experience. Companies that have effective onboarding processes in place achieve 2.5x more revenue growth and 1.9x the profit margin compared to organizations with poor onboarding strategies. Here, we explore some of the key building blocks -- and often forgotten components -- to improve employee onboarding for remote employees. Keeping these things in mind, you can ensure smooth onboarding even when employees are remote. As a result, you'll help increase the organization's rate of retention, engagement, and productivity of your new hires. Improving Human Connection During Onboarding Translates into Organizational Success Dale Carnegie was on to something when he said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.” People are emotional. More than ever, they want a more personal, human work experience from their employers – and that happens when people connect and feel they belong. Organizations have to get more and more creative about how they can form multiple connections with new employees, or they risk feeling alienated and are more likely to leave. The digitization of the workplace can make people more isolated and lonely, so pre-boarding is a way to ensure inclusivity and connection-building happens before a person starts. In fact, connection is the backbone of an onboarding strategy that reduces new hire attrition, accelerates time-to-productivity, increases new hire productivity, fosters trust, drives engagement – and ultimately empowers the business to deliver better for customers. Coupled with a compelling employee experience strategy, such as assigning job-appropriate “ambassadors” and a “people-first” culture of compassion and caring, this personalized approach can continue through all an employee’s life stages Here are 10 ways to keep human connection front and center during employee onboarding and to help everyone settle into your organization with confidence — whether onsite or at home. 1. Put Video Conferencing at the Forefront No surprise, video conferencing apps gained immense popularity in spring 2020. Video conferencing platforms became a lifesaver for employers and employees, serving as a means to make face-to-face connections in the virtual work world. Instead of distributing training documentation and static, pre-recorded videos for remote employee training, employers could schedule a video onboarding training session that feels a lot like meeting in the company conference room. Plus, when onboarding, you have the chance to set expectations and make sure the employee knows that interactive, camera-on meetings will be the norm. With this approach, your employees can ask questions live and have them answered immediately among their co-workers. 2. Create Opportunities for Connection Amid COVID-19, many employees understandably experienced feelings of isolation. Create and foster pipelines for interaction, such as firing up virtual social groups, keeping those channels active, or encouraging a non-social media-centered buddy system where employees call, text or email one another. This reinforces a sense of belonging for remote employees. 3. Help Employees Manage Distractions Another facet telecommuting employees might not anticipate is the endless stream of distractions. Your virtual training tips might include strategies to help employees shut out distractions to give their work the necessary focus to get it done well and on time. At the least, encourage your employees to carve out an hour a day for remote training when they can give the material 100% of their attention. Some other tried and true tips to provide remote employees to reduce distractions:Create a schedule and stick to it Take a lunch hour and frequent breaks Get some outdoor time (if possible) Keep your workspace organized Turn off desktop and phone notifications Restrict time on your phone Establish ground rules with your family or roommates Set daily goals and objectivesFor more on helping employees remove distractions while working remotely, check out these tips. 4. Invite Open Discussions on Training Questions You’re not training employees in a vacuum, and they aren’t learning in one, so keep an open line of communication to see how everything is going. Use your company intranet or another channel to solicit feedback. You can quickly and clearly clarify matters for everyone, thanks to an open forum for lively Q&A. 5. Run Online Polls for Feedback to Improve Employee Onboarding & Training When you want to gather data about remote training, run an online poll. You can provide a space for comments, questions and feedback. If you’re looking for numbers to guide your training, a poll is a quick and efficient way to get what you need. Ask questions about whether employees find the information engaging, clear, and meaningful to their daily work. This way, you're giving remote employees a way to be heard. 6. Empower Remote Employees to Become Self-Guided Learners With today’s online education and training opportunities, you can put the power of learning in your team members’ hands. Let employees know what you need from them, then allow them to explore their options. That doesn’t mean you set them loose without any guidance. Offer guideposts, such as resources your organization would use, or free access to training programs. Since workers already spend a great deal of time working remotely, it isn’t a stretch to approach learning similarly. Plus when people own when and how they learn, they tend to retain it better!  7. Create and Use Breakout Rooms If you want to schedule a mass training session for everyone before turning matters over to department managers and their respective teams, use breakout rooms to create several smaller sessions. With the right platform, everyone can easily switch to enjoy seamless strands of training relevant to their needs. 8. Offer Strong Training Visuals as Reminders In your video meetings, provide employees with strong visuals to help them understand the material, such as spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, infographics and videos that drive home your training points. About two-thirds of people are visual learners, and studies suggest that four in ten people respond better to visuals and text compared to text alone. Other research shows using visuals can help improve retention and learning by up to 400 percent, so make sure to include compelling visuals to enhance learning. 9. Provide On-Demand Training Options Inherent in remote employment is flexibility. There are times when employees can’t join a live video meeting or audio conference call, so ensure that they can catch up when they have time with on-demand options. Provide absent team members with the recorded session and any supplemental documents, spreadsheets or information they need to stay up to speed for the times they can’t make a virtual meeting in-person. 10. Focus on People Not Process to Improve Employee Onboarding How your company communicates, enables meaningful collaboration, and supports relationship building for both onsite and remote employees usually ends up making or breaking your new hires’ remote onboarding experience. That's why it's critical to focus on people not process or paperwork during this process..    These critical elements are often overlooked during onboarding, but that's where you can employ certain technologies to help. For example, Humantelligence's Smarter Collaboration surfaces emotional intelligence insights and tips directly into the tools your employees use every single day – like Outlook email and calendar, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, Google Calendar, Slack, Zoom, Webex, and more. This simple plug-in takes the guesswork out of how to better understand and effectively communicate with others so your new employees can focus on what matters most – and that’s becoming an impactful member of the team. In addition, be sure to spend time helping your new remote hires integrate into their team. Understanding how they compare in working styles and tendencies to both those with whom they work and their managers will help your new hire understand how best to contribute to the team, smooth the transition, collaborate more effectively, and accelerate productivity. Resources to Improve Employee Onboarding We hope our remote onboarding and training ideas help you feel more confident about bringing new employees into the mix, even if they never or rarely step foot in your office. Today’s technology offers a bounty of options to welcome and engage new employees or help current employees cultivate a sense of belonging and connection with their new and existing colleagues.

The Power of Connection at Work
The Power of Connection at Work

The way we work has changed. Distributed teams along with generational differences and diverse personalities make collaboration, communication, and connection at work more difficult than ever. Miscommunications that could be easily rectified with a quick face-to-face chat now are left to fester at our keyboards. At the same time, the world of flexible remote and hybrid work has opened up many opportunities for employees around the world.  Unfortunately, some of those opportunities lead to other companies. That doesn’t mean remote work isn’t working. It just means we need to do a better job of encouraging interpersonal connection at work. In this article, see how you can harness the awesome power of human connection to improve employee engagement and increase retention. The High Cost of Losing Connection at Work The sudden shift to remote work over the past couple of years gave our people an opportunity to do more than just spruce up their home offices – it also gave them a chance to think and reevaluate bigger topics, like just how work fits into their lives. And this has undoubtedly contributed to trends like the Great Resignation and quiet quitting, as many employees realized that personal needs, such as connection, family, happiness, and health mattered more to them than promotions, career paths, and other work-related objectives. In fact, according to Gallup, U.S. employee engagement took a giant step backward during the second quarter of 2022, with the proportion of engaged workers remaining at 32 percent while the proportion of actively disengaged increasing to 18 percent. This put the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees at 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade. We don’t have to tell you, this turnover can leave your organization in a bind. Estimates show that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a manager making $60,000 a year, that's $30,000 to $45,000 in recruiting and training expenses. This doesn’t even account for all of the soft costs required to onboard a new employee, the impacts on morale and culture, loss of knowledge and productivity, or the ways that whole teams can be affected when it’s a team leader who leaves. Not to scare you further, but research out of LinkedIn also shows that 70 percent of the global workforce is passive talent, and more than half would consider leaving for the right opportunity. So basically, everyone is a flight risk! The good news is that one of the most important and impactful solutions takes into account the fact that work life and personal contentment aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, everything – including employee engagement and retention – improves when we bring the two into alignment through deeper connection. The Importance of Connection at Work Connection at work matters. Would you be surprised to learn that people with friendly connections at work perform better in their job? According to research, people who have a good friend at work are not only more likely to be happier and healthier, but they are also seven times as likely to be engaged in their job. In addition, employees who report having friends at work have higher levels of productivity, retention and job satisfaction than those who don’t. The feelings of belonging and purpose that friendship and connection foster are among the top benefits people are looking to get from their work. These feelings are so profound and powerful that some employees would even trade some compensation for more meaningful relationships – at least that’s what over half of the employees surveyed by BetterUp Labs found. Feeling more connected at work doesn’t only make employees happier. It has several other clear effects on employee and organizational performance. For example, 94 percent of employees agreed that they’re more productive when they feel connected to their colleagues, and, when compared to employees who didn’t feel actively connected to their workplace, connected employees were:More than 3 in 5 employees with high social connectivity report being highly engaged, whereas just over 1 in 10 employees with low social connectivity consider themselves highly engaged at work. Employees who have strong social bonds with their coworkers are more motivated to perform.  Individuals who report having connection at work are 7x more likely to exhibit better engagement, customer relations, work quality, and wellbeing, as well as a lower risk of injury. Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability.Employee engagement consists of concrete behavior, not an abstract feeling. Organizations that view engagement as a feeling often conduct employee surveys and provide offer perks to improve the results. Gallup reports that the most successful organizations make employee engagement central to their business strategy. They give employees clear expectations and provide them with the tools and support to do their best work.  Why are engaged teams more profitable? Those teams who score in the top 20 percent in engagement realize a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism, and 59 percent less turnover. Engaged employees show up with passion, purpose, presence, and energy. So, let’s turn our focus toward increasing connection – and that doesn’t mean forcing everyone back into the office. Return-to-Office Doesn’t Always Make for Better Connection A recent study from Accenture found that on-site workers were the most likely to say they felt disconnected at work. The study challenges the assumption that working only on-site makes people feel more connected. People who work on-site, in comparison with those who work in hybrid or remote workplaces, feel the least connected of the three groups studied — 42 percent of on-site workers say they feel “not connected” versus 36 percent hybrid and 22 percent fully remote.  While in-person time is vital, physical proximity that lacks leadership support, flexibility, technology or sense of purpose doesn’t necessarily translate into people feeling deeper connections to their work and to each other. It’s not about the building, the site, the campus. As with most things in this life, it’s about what’s going on inside that counts. Accenture’s Organizational culture: From always connected to omni-connected report outlines how companies can strengthen culture and connection by delivering what they refer to as “omni-connected experiences,” which level the playing field, enabling people to participate fully and have an equitable experience — growing their careers, building relationships, and creating both personal and business value and impact — regardless of where they physically work. In Enboarder’s research of building connection at work, survey findings showed that the things that made the biggest impact on employees' feelings of connectedness, and hence, their retention rates were things you’re probably already doing: team meetings (49%), skills sharing with coworkers and peers (29%), spontaneous interactions with colleagues (28%), and all-company meetings (26%). Now What? Just because you're already doing it doesn’t mean it’s working well. Consider optimizing these efforts and employing technology that supports them.  The key to deeper connection and strong engagement is to simply enable and activate the everyday interactions between coworkers. Make sure your employees are making the most of their in-office days and that there are adequate spaces and reasons for in-person interactions. Encourage spontaneous check-ins. With fewer people around us, it’s easy just to immerse ourselves in work, but regular check-ins with others are crucial for everyone, in particular leaders who may not otherwise notice if their team is struggling.  Make sure your remote employees aren’t being overlooked for team and company events. Be mindful to create opportunities for genuine human connection. Support informal mentorships. Facilitate communication across departments and employees of different ages and experience levels so team members can learn more about each other and their areas of work, while sparking new ideas and interests.If anything good came out of our rapid, pandemic-induced shift to remote work, it was that we finally had the unique opportunity to meet many of our colleagues’ families and pets over Zoom. This helped us see them as the human beings they are, which fueled a sense of connection when we needed it most. Now, we have the opportunity to take that sense of connection and amplify it. Remember, increasing employee retention doesn’t just help your company; it helps your people. An employee who feels connection at work, is an employee who can engage fully. And an employee who can fully engage is an employee who feels compelled to stay. Need help getting your employees connected and on the same page, talk to one of our solutions experts!

What Smarter Collaboration Means in Microsoft Teams
What Smarter Collaboration Means in Microsoft Teams

In today’s global work environment, organizations and their employees must effectively communicate across different locations, time zones, and languages to drive their businesses forward. Microsoft Teams puts everything organizations need—chats, meetings, calling, and Office 365 apps—to make faster, more informed decisions in a single, intelligent hub. With Teams, every type of worker—from the frontline worker to the C-suite—is empowered to contribute their voice and take shared accountability for business outcomes. To quantify the benefits of Teams for organizations and employees, Forrester Consulting conducted a Total Economic Impact™ study of Microsoft Teams, commissioned by Microsoft. Forrester interviewed and surveyed over 260 customers using Teams in a wide range of industries, spanning financial services to education. All customers cited the following business objectives for implementing Teams:Increase employee productivity Improve collaboration across the organization Enable innovationKey Benefits: Implementing Microsoft Teams The study uncovered 11 benefits for companies to consider as they evaluate Teams as a primary communication and collaboration tool. The top four benefits are:Teams reduces the total number of meetings and their duration. Online meetings conducted over Teams are reliable and of very high audio-video quality. As a result, employees spend less time addressing setup and call quality issues, and more time interacting. The total time savings equal $6.9 million. Information workers save four hours per week from improved collaboration and information sharing. With Teams features like coauthoring, integrated file storage, and internal directory, information workers can effectively and efficiently collaborate in real-time. The potential savings equal more than $14.3 million. Information workers save more than one hour per week by not having to switch between applications. Access to third-party and line-of-business apps inside Teams from any device benefits all workers, especially remote workers. This creates better employee cohesion and a common corporate culture across locations. The total savings are nearly $4.8 million. Having resources available online in Teams reduces downtime by 14.6 percent. When resources are available in one cloud-based location, downtime is reduced and complexity is lowered, making security and compliance easier.Maximizing Value from Microsoft Teams In just the last few months, Microsft released Collaborative Notes. The new Teams’ meetings feature enables meeting attendees to work together taking notes, forming agendas, and creating action items. Meeting notes are not new to Teams, but this updated version automatically synchronizes edits to the notes across all attendee devices, offering a more efficient and seamless collaborative experience. Attendees are not restricted to a single app. Collaborative Notes will be instantly updated whether they are shared in Teams, Outlook, Loop, Word for web, or Whiteboard. How Smarter Collaborative Notes Work Attendees can add recurring agendas to all meetings while scheduling in Teams. To join a Teams meeting and collaborate on meeting notes, click the  click the “Meeting notes” pane, you can create agendas in real-time or review the agenda already provided. If you are assigned a task during a meeting, you will also be sent an email notification and the task will be automatically synchronized with your Planner and To Do. But real-time in-meeting communication means we don’t take into account the different personalities and work styles of our colleagues when we communicate. As a result, communication can often be misinterpreted, unclear, and not as meaningful and effective as it could be – which stunts productivity and connection. It also prevents the uninterrupted time that is necessary for team members to bring their full range of talents to their work, which is what makes them feel satisfied at the end of their work days.  Consider implementing a collaboration and coaching add-on to support more productive meetings and to maximize the value you get out of Collaborative Notes. A Smarter Way to Collaborate in Microsoft Teams This can begin as easily as putting personality insights at the fingertips of every employee, where they communicate most often --  think video meetings and chat. With this simple plug-in in Teams, you can give your staff the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another, taking all of the guesswork out of it and allowing them to spend time on the work that matters. The plug-in automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication with peers during meetings. Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap on for pre- or post-meeting action items, for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to document or support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers in an easy-to-understand way.  As a team leader, you’re able to lay a strong foundation for more inclusive communication and belonging for team members, along with:Creating more balanced, diverse & agile teams Ensuring employees onboard or transition teams smoothly Optimizing team members’ impact by tapping into the unique behaviors, motivators & work energizers of each person. Experiencing the increased productivity that comes from improved team effectiveness. Squeezing every ounce of value out of your use of Microsoft TeamsAs a team member, you’re able to:Gain deeper understanding of one another, allowing better connection and ability to work through conflict Create deeper, more meaningful connection that translates into more effective collaborations and higher quality relationships at work Feel more engaged in your daily workIt’s important to give your employees the opportunity to thrive and do the job they were hired to do -- instead of requiring them to spend their valuable time figuring out how to work better with one another. The truth is, most people won’t take their time to figure out how to collaborate better, and as a result, connection wanes, relationships are reduced to transactions, and performance suffers. Don’t let team members go down this road when there are easier tech-enabled ways to do it. Doing so drives trust in your processes and leadership ability, and keeps employees engaged and performing at their highest levels.