The Latest on Trend #6: Team Effectiveness - Across Virtual and Distributed Environments
2021 1st Quarter Update
The Coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the world of work. Those who used to commute to offices are now working from home, and this shift has had a major impact on team dynamics and performance. Team members can no longer discuss projects with each other over lunch or coordinate activities during informal hallway interactions. Some are juggling work with simultaneously educating their children at home. New hires have been unable to meet fellow team members in person, and after a year many teams are suffering from Zoom fatigue and burnout.
Groups and teams are fundamental structures for organizing work, and larger organizations are made up of thousands of teams. But if organizations are made up of teams, and believe teamwork to be important, then why are so few teams high performing? Although every organization wants effective teamwork, they inadvertently do things to prevent it from happening. New research from SIOP members Stephanie Zajac, Scott Tannenbaum and Edward Salas offers teams tips for success, including the value of psychological safety, trust, adaptability, and resilience. In addition, the ability to build high performing teams is rarely featured in leadership competency models. As a result, according to SIOP member CGordy Curphy, organizations do not recruit, select, on-board, develop, evaluate, promote, or reward leaders on their ability to build teams.
Organizations can go a long way towards improving the base rate of high performing virtual teams by adopting these practices. Virtual team leaders can learn a common model for building teams, get benchmarking feedback on current team dynamics and performance, and be taught tools to improve virtual team performance. For this to happen, organizations need to get beyond wishful thinking and be more deliberate about fostering effective teamwork. In Q2, look for this trend to pop again as organizations contemplate return-to-work strategies that will put team leaders in the hot seat for managing a hybrid team environment.