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How to cultivate successful teams

We are living in extraordinary times with a high pace of change where remote or hybrid working is the norm. Managers are looking for strategies to ensure continued productivity of their teams – whether they are working at home or a mix of both.

What follows are my suggestions for how we can cultivate high performing teams during this time of transition and disruption:

Rethink hiring practices to select high performing teams

  • Skills vs Attitude: While skills are very important, always look for resources who carry the right traits and behaviors that suit your team and work culture. I have always been a staunch believer that skills can always be taught but you cannot teach desired traits and behaviors.
  • Fire in the Belly: Vigour and passion can always get you extra results. These employees always come to work with a zeal to do their best any time, every time.
  • Transparency: Look for candidates who are genuine and transparent and discuss things openly. Many candidates paint a rosy picture of themselves during the interview, only to discover after they were hired that they oversold their value.

Establish strong relationships

To cultivate high performing teams, today’s leaders need to understand how to motivate each individual.  Our performance can vary from day-to-day based on several external factors that we bring to work every day.

  • Personal connections: Humans are social animals and making personal connections help establish a beautiful work relationship. Keep an eye out for sudden or gradual changes in behavior or performance of your team. These may be caused by internal or external factors. Informal and impromptu check-ins can build trust and put team members at ease.
  • Balanced approach: As a parent, I try to treat my children equally. One should always strive to ensure that we are balanced and not biased in our management approaches but there will always be times when one team member will require more attention than another. Reinforce and celebrate good performance and focus on coaching and individual development to improve underperformers.
  • Keep work fun: Creating and inspiring a work culture that promotes equal opportunities flavored with fun improves engagement and retention. Having a team that looks forward to coming to work every Monday morning should be the goal!
  • Moments that matter: If a crisis hits your team, treat it as an opportunity for reflection and further tuning of the team’s goals. As discussed in a previous blog, failure is proof that you’re trying and these are opportunities for tremendous growth and development .
  • Regular Touch Points: I have always practiced two-way communication with each member of my team. I schedule regular recurring meetings with each employee for daily scrum updates. Encourage your team to reach out for help when needed.  Building that level of trust means that employees do not wait until a crisis occurs before they ask for support.
  • Take a break: Breaks have always allowed me to put the problem in the background and work on a solution. I have followed Pomodoro Technique where I focus on work for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. People will avoid taking breaks because they feel it breaks the flow when they are in the middle of something. By following the 50/10 approach, I find that quieting my mind can help overcome any challenge.
  • Make time for development: I have always believed and practiced that as you grow your career, you need to make more time to work on yourself. For young professionals just starting out, I suggest leaving 10-15% of free time for training and upskilling. A mid-level manager should put aside 25-30% of their time to work on growing their own skills as well as coaching their team members to ensure their growth and development.

Coach like a pro and cultivate well-balanced, effective teams.

Syed Saifullah is the Director of Software Development at TalentQuest and has worked as part of senior management for over 15 years. He has worked in the IT industry for 25 years and his work has taken him to USA, Japan and Italy. Syed holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Applications.

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