Have you ever wondered
How can I get to know my team?
How can my team get to know me?
How can I build a high-performance team?
How can I get to know my team remotely?
Whilst I don’t pretend to have all the answers to the above it's something I have been pondering from time to time and thought I would share an approach.
Getting to know your team in today’s age maybe a different hurdle to knowing your team say 5-10 years ago when geographical boundaries and meeting up was more prevalent. In today’s age if you are managing a team be it remotely or in-person getting to know your team and building that level of trust and understanding can be hard. A remote lunch or online challenge (cue escape rooms) may not cut it because in that moment its the focus on the activity and details associated to it that take away from focussing on getting information to help better work with your team.
Depending on which industry you work in this will differ but I often find friends in the tech/startup space finding more remote or hybrid roles, or atleast that seems to be the trend. Remote/hybrid roles have meant that regular In-person meet ups in todays age tends to be sporadic or the meetups are centered around a specific reason or cause. If you compare your in-person work meetups with that of your friends you often find meeting up with your work colleagues is centered around a work event or activity. Centering something around an activity or event predicates that you know the person well enough to attend or participate in an activity. After all you wouldn’t ask a friend you have something in common with to go to a theatre show with you if you didn’t know they liked the theatre so why would work colleagues be any different. In a similar vein we don’t meet up with good friends with a specific agenda (outside of lunch for example) so why would we expect our teams to better understand each other because they meet up for a joint cause.
Often I find that ‘get to know each other’ activities can be forced and skirt around how best to work with each other. So recently I put together this template and requested my team fill it out and share their screen (as we operate in a hybrid/remote environment) in the call to chat through with the rest of the team. This puts a reduced onus on the individual presenting because they can choose what to present (which also means they are in a safe place) and it firmly puts them in a place where they can choose what piece of information helps them put their best foot forward. I use the term best foot forward because it's not only the individual joining the team but its also the whole team/tribe that the new joiner is part of whose success can be defined by these strong initial relationships built.
Admittedly we don’t meet up with our friends and share a template of our needs but often these friendships are built over time and humans have a homing beacon to other humans they want friendships with; we choose our friends. If we were in the office it's possible that the same details outlined in the template could be ascertained but in my experience, it takes a lot of time as they have no reason to share that information or day-to-day tasks and even passing gossip takes over.
For new joiners or new managers who have to manage a remote team or for managers managing a hybrid team it's important that the new individual can see how they slot into the organisational or team puzzle. Without that initial understanding of who the other person really is future trust exercises, retro’s, and meetups may all be in vein as they don’t have a base understanding of one another. This template can also be used for newly formed internal teams, just because they are in the same organisation doesn’t mean they really know how to help each other get the most out of their day-to-day work life. This is not to say that simply sharing the template can replace in-person meetups, away days and offsites but its a precursor to building stronger bonds. If you think the template doesn’t scale, I hear you -> but what happens if you still shared it with a wider audience without a call, you did the same with the CV that got you through the door!
I hope you find this template useful, please feel free to share this on with friends and colleagues. More than anything else I would love to hear some new techniques/activities you have done or if you have a problem to chat through I would love to hear it -> please get in touch.