IAN FERGUSON: Bring teams together to fight COVID dysfunction

Our current circumstances, and disruption to the traditional workplace, have caused great upheaval in employee synergy for many companies. Some are working remotely, some are coming into the office or workplace, and everyone is fearful and suspicious about their colleagues' health. The social crisis that we face, along side the health and economic ones, has taken a toll on teamwork throughout the economy.

In his book, The five dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick M. Lencioni outlines critical concerns that companies have in the fight to remain relevant and viable. He lists these dysfunctions as:

  1. Absence of trust

  2. Fear of conflict

  3. Lack of commitment

  4. Avoidance of accountability

  5. Inattention to results.

He asserts that when a company identifies the root causes of poor teamwork, employee teams can develop specific strategies for overcoming each of them.

Today I offer two critical suggestions for strengthening your teams considering our current COVID-19 situation:

  1. Increase Employee Engagement

Most workplaces already seem challenged in trying to keep employees motivated and engaged with the company. An employee engagement programme aligns the company's messaging with the interests and lifestyle of the worker. A fully-engaged employee will share work content on their personal social media platforms, and represent their brand well and often in personal and social settings. Find ways to incentivise your employees to connect with the company first, and the rest - as they say - is gravy.

  1. Increase Employee Interaction

The next crucial part of this equation is the work to foster meaningful employee interactions during this time. With so many now having the privilege of working remotely, isolation has become the great divider and destroyer of teamwork. Leaders must be more focused than ever before on virtual and periodic face-to-face interactions with the entire team. No one can be left in the dark for too long. Find ways to get everyone talking, sharing and presenting in the virtual space. If iron sharpens iron, then the iron must show up.

As your team members begin to engage each other more, ensure that you celebrate even small successes and victories with the wider workforce. Incentives and rewards count. Be transparent, open and inclusive. We are all looking with unnecessary suspicion at each other these days. Our workplace does not need to be another space that further exacerbates this distrust.

NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.