Just because the workforce has become decentralized doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the kind of connection that inspires your people to effectively collaborate and achieve your company’s goals.
The employee experience has changed dramatically in recent years. Work is no longer a place as much as it is a process — regardless of where you are working. For many organizations employees are either partially or fully remote, dramatically evolving how people collaborate on important work-related objectives.
But effective collaboration isn’t just about showing up for a Zoom call or coming into the office for face-to-face meetings, it's about having intentional conversations that offer feedback and recognition related to people’s performance in a way that is helpful and motivating.
Here are three simple ways to improve collaboration in a hybrid or remote work experience.
One: Focused Conversations on Performance
People have plenty of conversations and collaboration during the pursuit of critical business objectives. After all, today people have an average of over two hundred emails in their inbox. And that number doesn’t include messages being sent over Slack, MS Teams, or other internal communication platforms. While not every email or chat we have relates to collaborating with team members, a large majority of them are electronic conversations about internal or external collaboration that moves business forward.
When team leaders and managers meet with their direct reports during a one-to-one meeting (if they formally meet one-to-one), most of the agenda is focused on the individual’s “to-do” list and status updates on critical projects. While this is important information to share between a leader and a team member, it only scratches the surface of what research reveals to lead to higher levels of individual and team performance.
Focused Performance Conversations go beyond a list of activities and things that need to get done. They also focus on the needs of individuals and teams as they relate to the skills and motivations of individuals trying to achieve specific objectives.
While it’s critical for leaders to make sure that the team and individuals stay on track with their tasks, these types of conversations only get you part of the way there. To ensure high levels of engagement and performance, you must continually develop the skills and respond to the psychological needs of those pursuing critical business goals. The way to accomplish this is through Continuous Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition (CFRs).
Two: Continuous Conversations
Long gone are the days where team members can set a goal and then check back in on progress toward that goal a year, or even a few months, later. Today’s progressive organizations have moved to some form of Continuous Performance Management (CPM) rather than annual, bi-annual, or quarterly performance reviews. Within the CPM process, regular (weekly or bi-weekly) check-ins (intentional one-to-one meetings) are critical to cultivating effective collaboration between leaders and team members.
Frequent check-ins, where an employee takes 10–15 minutes a week to update progress on key performance indicators and assess their skills and motivation toward their objectives, help leaders better respond to individual team member needs. They also help address critical process improvements in real-time. This allows for the kind of in-course corrections needed in today’s ever-changing business environment.
Unlike traditional performance reviews, consistent feedback provides highly relevant, in-the-moment guidance to individual contributors. With CFRs, leaders have the opportunity to evaluate progress toward OKRs, guide individuals toward future improvement, meet their moment-to-moment psychological needs, and help individuals stay accountable for their work.
Authentic, real-time, specific recognition is a critical component in cultivating a culture of gratitude and has the added benefit of boosting engagement, morale, and retention. Making recognition part of your organization's collaboration and performance process — where not just leaders, but everyone, feels empowered to shout out their colleagues' successes — helps build a sense of belonging and mutual support.
When individuals are able to intentionally assess and request feedback or recognize accomplishments, leaders are better equipped to respond with the right type of feedback or recognition that aligns with the needs of the moment — not waiting for weeks or months to respond to critical performance needs.
Three: Integrated Platforms for Conversations
When you consider the sheer volume of data that we create through technology collaboration tools — from email, project management, collaboration apps, and performance management platforms — it can be difficult to keep track of all of the different conversations. Collaborating on multiple platforms during a given day is the norm in a hybrid, virtual, or even an in-person office work experience. But it can also lead to dysfunctional or even chaotic collaboration, especially in relation to performance.
While many organizations have been racing to integrate their “big data” needs by aligning financial and human resource data like recruiting and onboarding, it has become just as important to align our performance collaboration data. Aligning conversations around performance and employees' performance needs has become critical in a hybrid or virtual work environment, especially in the shadow of The Great Resignation. Now more than ever it is essential to ensure employees are engaged and their psychological needs are consistently being met across integrated platforms that align performance and keep business activities in sync across the organization
Without integrated collaboration applications primarily linked to an effective Performance Management platform, organizations can quickly descend into a postmodern madness. Employees can be overloaded with information that has no central narrative, creating anxiety and eroding the psychological needs of people in the organization.
Organizations and Individuals Thrive In a Culture of Effective, Integrated Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition
Consistent conversations between individuals and managers are critical to organizational success, especially in this age of hybrid and remote work. To effectively execute strategy with dispersed teams, organizations must build community and encourage collaboration through Continuous Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition across integrated platforms.To learn more about the ways CFRs can help take your business to the next level, and to learn more about Inspire Software’s solutions, download our latest e-book, “Emerging Trends in Continuous Performance Management for 2022.”