HR Topics  Leadership Tips
Team Development: A Mask-Free Way to Build Team Culture & EQ Skills
Team development will need to look a lot different in our new reality. According to a Gallup poll, half of Americans who now work remotely say they want to continue doing so even after restrictions on businesses are lifted. Personal and company financial savings, environmental benefits, and steady engagement are all fueling this desire.
Already, tech giants Twitter and Facebook have captured headlines with announcements about permanent work from home arrangements. Nationwide Insurance is shutting five regional offices since remote work has gone so smoothly during the pandemic. In addition, Germany’s Siemens has decided to let its employees work from wherever they want for two or three days a week.
While the benefits to work from home are many, what’s the isolation doing to your team dynamics? Are the perks coming at a long-term cost?
The flip side shows that:
- 75% of employees say they feel more socially isolated1
- 67% of employees report higher stress1
- 44% of employees working from home say mental health has declined2
Even pre-pandemic, feelings of isolation and loneliness were already leading to health issues and financial losses. On average, 80% of Generation Z and 69% of millennial employees reported being lonely in 2019.3 It affects their health in profound ways, and it has lasting impacts on their professional career as well. Lonely people are less committed to their organizations and have lower performance ratings. They are also less satisfied in their jobs. The cost of this for employers is upwards of £2.5 billion ($3.5 billion) in the United Kingdom alone.4
If loneliness was a problem in 2019, it’s become a critical issue in 2020. Addressing it through strategic team development and relationship building has the greatest potential of ensuring the honeymoon phase of working remotely transitions into long-lasting success for both the company and the individual.
Teams have already dealt with large amounts of unexpected stress this year, with many going through things like:
- Unplanned growth
- Furloughs or layoffs
- Team reorganizations
- Changing roles
- New leadership & business demands
- Uncertainty & loneliness
Top this with drifts in relational bonds while working from home and you may be facing performance gaps. In addition, there’s the risk of increased conflict and weakened team development.
Getting Closer When You’re Socially Distant
Will putting on masks and standing 6 feet apart not be an option? Did you cancel your team’s off-site? Even if so, it doesn’t mean team development efforts should be scrapped all together. Putting them off until the office comes together again might not be a reality – since many businesses are taking a longer, more permanent view of work from home arrangement.
By leaning into virtual team development programs now, you prevent drifts in relationships, negative shifts in the team’s culture, and decreased trust between team members. Team building can also help build emotional intelligence, or EQ skills for team leaders and managers during times of major team disruption.
What Virtual Team Development is NOT
The step of enabling video-enabled virtual meetings is not a replacement for virtual team building. Virtual business meetings are good for managing the day-to-day and for keeping employees up-to-date, but this format likely isn’t delivering the platform for team connections to remain intact and growing.
What Virtual Team Development IS
Virtual team building is a way of modifying your team development for online participation to address today’s pandemic challenges and restrictions. Talent management professionals recognize the need to maintain strong connections between employees. The goal of virtual team building is the same as in-person programs: You engage participants in group learning activities to build trust and a positive team culture in order to maximize team performance.
So how do you replace those 3-day corporate retreats where everyone was able to come together and learn about each other to build relationships? Use innovation and creativity. A successful program is grounded in both objective data and fun, virtual learning. One data component might include a read out of team member’s scores against a set of personality profiles. After that, a trained career development professional guides the team in understanding each other’s work styles and typical approaches to managing conflict via the iMap Birkman, Myers Briggs, or other assessment.
The team development program’s learning objectives center on skill building to minimize non-productive conflict, build positive team norms, enhance connections, and increase team engagement. Even when conducted virtually, participants derive considerable value from such programs because team members walk away with a better understanding of each other as well as a shared vocabulary and tool set to manage through change, problem-solving, and conflict.
A Mask-Free Way to Accelerate Team Culture
You can empower remote teams no matter how far apart they may be. Priority IMPACT Teams™ is a dynamic, interactive virtual development program that improves and accelerates team collaboration, engagement, performance, and trust during uncertain times. Building Team EQ™ and honing EQ skills for team leaders and managers goes a long way in increasing awareness of self and others. This is achieved through a series of dynamic virtual workshops plus the iMap Birkman assessment. As a result, you successfully reduce performance gaps, conflict, and loss of productivity.
Leverage Virtual Team Development to Foster Rapid Resolutions for Your Teams’ Key Challenges
Contact us now to discuss your needs and how applying Team EQ™ can help your teams stay connected and be most effective as they tackle challenges from the pandemic.
1 How CEOs Can Support Employee Mental Health in a Crisis, Harvard Business Review, 2020
2 The Other COVID-19 Crisis: Mental Health, Qualtrics, 2020
3 Younger Workers Feel Lonely at the Office, Wall Street Journal, 2020
4 The Cost of Loneliness to UK Employers, New Economics Foundation, 2017