Connecting with your team in a hybrid working environment
Ever heard of a ‘Morning Huddle’ or a ‘Team Cuddle’?
While connecting with your team in the shift to hybrid will have its challenges, it has never been more important as emotions run high with this change. No one has been in this space before; it’s unfamiliar, unpredictable and uncomfortable. What can you do to make it easier?
The secret to strengthening connection and trust, while also alleviating fear and anxiety, revolves around two things:
- Get to know your people well!
- Be interested in who they are beyond what they do for the organisation or in your team.
Says Karen Plum, Director or Research and Development at AWA, “Teams that trust each other perform better, and trust is especially important when we don’t see each other face-to-face, because we have fewer opportunities to gather information about others: their motivations, and their trustworthiness. If people miss their deadlines, break promises, and neglect their relationships, misunderstandings and conflicts can occur more readily.
“When we trust each other, we are more inclined to share knowledge and expertise, which in turn helps a team draw on all the skills and experience of its members. If we don’t trust others with our knowledge, then it is not available to help the team meet its goals.”
Team connection meetings to keep the human in the middle
While meetings around process and delivery are essential to getting the job done and adding value to the business, there is a real necessity for keeping the human in the middle. Here’s how:
A Morning Huddle
- This is a regular open-door session where you can shoot the breeze together without an agenda – you will be surprised at the fresh ideas and organisational intel you will pick up, while also getting to know your staff better.
- Have an ‘open door’ for half an hour at the same time every morning before work begins. Anyone in the team can drop in to ‘your office’ virtually, or in person to shoot the breeze. The topics of conversation can include:
- Sharing what they have heard from other parts of the company – this intel is invaluable and is something that has been sorely lacking in the work-from-home situation
- News and views about current affairs or something happening within the organisation
A Team Cuddle
- This handles the social aspects of intentionally getting to know each other as people, not just producers and performers in the business:
- There is often not enough time in a regular team meeting for the social aspect, so an intentional ‘Team Cuddle’ will do the trick. Whether it is a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly session, will be dependent on the size and nature of your team.
- Use it to wrap up the week on a Friday, or kickstart the week on a Monday.
- Personal sharing makes everyone human and builds bridges of compassion between team members.
- Sharing can range from very personal to the frivolous such as:
- Where were you born?
- Your full names
- Favourite books and movies
- What you are binge-watching at the moment?
- Favourite sports teams
- Pet peeves
- Biggest fears
- The most fun thing you did last weekend, etc
- Have a ‘High Fives’ section of the meeting where team members can do shout outs for each other.
The Morning Huddle and the Team Cuddle can take place in person or remotely. They are important touchstones for you and your team in addition to your regular team meeting and your 1:1 check-ins with your direct reports. Make sure you create a cameras-on-culture for these specific connection meetings.
Togetherness and physical proximity
Research repeatedly shows that a sense of togetherness is created less by physical proximity and more by psychological needs being met. This means that team connection and cohesion now have more to do with the team leader, line manager or business owner than being in the office face-to-face.
Now that you are operating in a hybrid space, be discerning about when and what to call people into the office for, or not. In-person meetings that require a commute must have a real purpose behind them. Do the in-person meeting test: What can you do in an in-person meeting you cannot do online? The Morning Huddle and Team Cuddle can be done virtually or in person. The secret is to keep them regular.