Remote work has thrown a spanner in the works for teamwork. It used to be easy to know who was doing what in your team and to feel in touch with commitment and productivity. Now, it’s hard to get that same read.
Circumstances have thrown us back on what good teamwork looks like. If we could get the right idea of what to focus on to develop teamwork, it would really help prioritise our efforts and save some time.
But a lot of our old teamwork models don’t fit the way we work now.
For a start, they are unidirectional – supposing that trust is the foundation and everything else builds on trust. In fact, leading a team is an exercise in frustration if you think that people are unidirectional. Machines are unidirectional. People are unexpected, surprising and much more unpredictable.
For example, I challenge the idea that errors of responsibility (or ‘accountability’) – which are generally located ‘above’ trust, as a dependency – do not affect trust and have an impact on performance. They actually feedback on trust, to limit or develop it.
If we think that trust is our main focus, we could be missing a huge opportunity.
We need a way to understand high performing teamwork that is fit for today – for our flexible and remote way of working. At Transformed Teams, we identify five key elements of high performing teamwork, as a reliable framework for developing teamwork in flexible and remote teams.
Think of these five key ingredients when you are designing your team:
- Shared goals
- Acknowledged Responsibility
- Working trust
- Collective Capability (like ‘competence’)
- Transformational Communication
Other models focus on conflict, but we need to focus on communication as a whole. For too long we have thought of communication as sending packets of information. But remote teamwork has shown us there is so much more to communication.
For example, when you experience passive-aggressive communication in your team, it’s a negative experience. That kind of thing affects teamwork. The message might look ok on the surface, but it’s the hidden meaning that affects the working relationship.
We need a broad understanding that encompasses the way communication and teamwork really work, to create teams that excel.