In the hybrid work environment that we now find ourselves in soft skills have become more important than ever. A recent survey conducted by recruitment specialist Drake International found that organisations that have been working remotely now consider communication (84.5%), work ethic (47.6%), followed by adaptability (38.8%) to be the most critical to productivity.
Twenty-first century work is no longer about how many widgets staff produce, but how well they make them together. Our economies thrive through idea generation, partnering and innovation from teams of highly skilled experts.
Technical skills that previously allowed some team members to thrive in a physical workplace have decreased in importance, as soft skills have become invaluable in this new autonomous environment.
The seeds of success revolve around communication, co-operation and teamwork. Today’s leaders required the right combination of technical, interpersonal (the ability to maintain and develop relationships and enlist others) and intrapersonal skills (self-management and self-awareness).
So how do we improve our interpersonal skills?
Bringing People Together
Introducing the Integrated Trust Building System that help helps leaders effortlessly emotionally engage employees using three communication practices critical for high performance according to neuroscience studies. Every single moment our brains are scanning our environment and calculating whether we can trust the people around us. At work, we need to feel confident that speaking up or making a mistake isn’t going to be a career-limiting move.
Our brain asks regularly – Am I safe to be myself? Do I belong to this team? Do we share a meaningful future together?
When leaders answer these questions affirmatively, employees feel that they can trust the environment and can contribute.
1. CREATING PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY
In the workplace, employees need to see and feel evidence that their workplaces are safe and that their fellow co-workers are looking out for them. More importantly, workers need to trust that their boss and colleagues really care. What people need to thrive in their jobs is psychological safety. They want to work in an organisation where they can be themselves, speak up about any concerns and that if they make a mistake they won’t be criticised. They know they can work the extra mile and their effort will be noticed. This feeling of psychological safety enables employees to become more emotionally invested in the organisation they work in. To build trust quickly, you need to focus on creating a safe space for people to bring their best selves to work. Do this by acknowledging every team member through eye contact in meetings, inviting each person to speak, expressing gratitude and rewarding excellence.
2. REINFORCING CONNECTION
We are biologically wired to want to be with other people. When people feel like they don’t belong, it creates self doubt and fear. Having a sense of connection to those around us improves our well-being. Yet, we often receive conflicting messages at work that we need to focus on tasks and not waste time making friends.Neuroscience experiments show that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves. Bring people together by introducing employees to other colleagues in other departments, talking about what makes your company great and how the group achieves more than what an individual can achieve on their own. Give teams time to socialise and talk about things that are non-task related.
3. FOCUSING ON A MEANINGFUL FUTURE
When we don't know what is going to happen next, the situation feels unsafe. It means we hold back our commitment to our jobs and team members. People love to be engaged in a future that seems better than the present day. Focusing on a positive future pulls people out of the anxiety zone and into the achievement zone in the brain. It is important to help people see that the organisation is going somewhere, as well as their team and career. As a leader, it’s vital that you reduce uncertainty by letting people know where the company is headed and why. When employees feel that communication is ambiguous or they don’t understand what is expected of them, they fall into fear and low trust.
A Thriving Team Environment
Learning how to build trust sustainably is key to creating an enjoyable team environment whether you are working remotely or in person. Otherwise, it’s like working in sludge. People block one another; require countless meetings to reach consensus and hoard information and resources.
And the fastest way is to send signals to your team that “we are in this together.” This is done in meetings, through being visible and both expecting and being accountable.
About the Author
Marie-Claire Ross is a speaker, facilitator and coach focused on helping leaders create thriving, trusting team environments that foster productive and accountable teams. If you would like to improve your team performance, download a complimentary insights paper called Fast Trust: How to Lead Accountable and Connected Teams, at https://www.marie-claireross.com/connected-teams-insights-paper
Drake International’s portfolio of Talent Management Solutions helps organisations solve their people, productivity, and performance issues.
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