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Diving into Audience Questions from State of Teams Webinar

Parker Mitchell

May 24, 2022

[Audience Q&A] - The State of Teams Webinar

Valence recently hosted a star-studded panel of experts in talent and development, discussing the State of Teams. In this interactive panel webinar, HR and Talent experts from Vanguard, Nestle, Wells Fargo and Cellanome shared what they’re seeing and doing within their teams to promote teamwork, and the measurable impact that is having on retention, recruiting, and employee performance.

In this jam-packed discussion, the speakers each shared what’s working across their companies to promote teamwork at scale including the latest trends, benchmarks, and best practices. The discussion spanned building meaningful culture and “unconditional love”, to manager enablement and multiplying good team behaviors.

Didn’t catch the webinar? That’s ok! You can view the recording here.

We received a lot of questions from the audience that we just didn’t have time to get to. But we didn’t want to leave anyone hanging so we pulled together answers to some of the most requested questions below:

Question: What tips do you all have for reducing manager burnout? Our managers have been pretty taxed this past couple years

Answer: At the core of this burnout is often that managers are taking on the burden of the collective burnout in modern work. One interesting stat in Valence’s recent State of Teams Report found that 84% of managers internalize fault for their employees’ burnout. Some key tips are to create collective support and relationships within a team for employees to support each other, rather than putting the bulk of that on the manager. This also dovetails in to empowering team members to take things off of each others’ plates. This will help managers protect themselves from stepping in (since humans are hardwired to be helpful) and create a space for employees to derive meaning from their work and collaboration. But lastly, and maybe the least obvious… is to help managers to recognize that challenge is often what adds meaning for employees. It’s okay to face hard stuff and actually helps build self-esteem and self-worth. The more that managers embrace this human reality to create challenging work for their employees, the more they will see the self-imposed pressure to “do it all” subside. Check out Valence’s full State of Teams Report for a lot more on this topic and other data driven insights on the importance of manager enablement.

Question: With this crazy job market, how do you leverage coaching offerings as an attractant in recruiting?

Answer: We all talk a lot about the importance of demonstrating a strong culture in employer branding and recruiting conversations. But what the most successful recruiting teams are doing differently, is proving that out to managerial candidates. Walk them through the tools and support system you do (or will) provide to the managers within your company. A strong coaching and training program that’s data-driven and supports stronger relationships between managers, employees, and team members is a tangible example that helps them understand why this will be a better and easier place to land than your competition.

Question: Adeline spoke to this earlier - but curious to dive in more. What is an example breakout of what ya’ll are creating to better enable managers? Like self serve resources and training.

Answer: Product pitch warning! The panelists on this call are, of course, users of Valence. Valence is a teamwork and manager enablement platform that offers assessments and personalized coaching at scale. It helps managers and employees identify points of friction or areas of strength that they can lean into, plus gives them the tools to have conversations and put changes into practice to improve or enhance their unique balances. This type of team development software's tools helps democratize resources and coaching to reduce the burden on HR through self-serve and guided programs, but also opens up access to this level of coaching that was previously expensive and reserved for top level executives or the highest performers.

Question: Our company has 40k+ employees with various divisions. How would you recommend we roll out teamwork initiatives like Valence? How do you prioritize certain groups to kick off with?

Answer: The first thing is to get to know every team member and set working norms with them. This likely occurs with a 1-1 where each party shares more about their preferred working styles (e.g., how they communicate, hours they work, how they like to problem solve, what they respect, what they have no patience for) as well as their mutual expectations. From this conversation the pair can agree on ways they'll work best.

The whole team then needs a moment to come together and talk explicitly about how they are working together. I see two main styles to this, and a new manager could do both. The first is a conversation about Team Norms. Ideally built up in a participatory fashion where all team members share what they think the norms of the team should be, and ultimately the team signs off on them. These may look philosophical like we always show respect, we debate hard, or they may look practical like we never answer emails after 7 pm. The second style is to have the team talk about who they are and how they work together. This would take the concepts from the 1-1 convos you've had and bring the whole team together. See everyone's natural styles and have an explicit conversation about how that plays out, what people need to succeed, what superpower contributions each teammate can make and then agree on some norms together.

After that kickoff you then want to create a mechanism by which you identify and address issues. This involves scheduled and structured moments for the team to step away from talking about WHAT they are working on and instead to talk about HOW they are working. A cadence of quick monthly or weekly convos and longer quarterly convos is best. You'll certainly want to do something at the first quarter of coming in. This will set the tone and create a space where it is normal to talk about improving the how.

The key to these is to be structured and systematic about them. Schedule them already in your first couple weeks with the team. Then bring some for of data and objectivity to those check ins. This can be a survey of team members or team assessment tools that measure what the team is experiencing.

Question: How would you recommend a new manager who’s inheriting a large team phases their team-building and coaching efforts?

Answer: It definitely takes some time for a manager to settle in and learn their team. Usually we recommend to start with some employee assessment tools to gauge how the individuals on the team like to collaborate, communicate, solve problems… and to have open discussions as a group on what the unique dynamics of their cohort means. Where they overlap or contrast widely. Who may be able to fill gaps for others. This is a nice high level approach. We would call this an Align exercise. And then 6 months into the role, to dig a little deeper into the projects the team has been working on. Do some retrospectives on what went well, how things could have gone better. And identify some key areas to practice as a group on a regular basis. We’d call these Perspective and Habits exercises. There are of course many other activities and exercises that can be taken on depending on the findings of these two examples. But this is a great jumping off point. Both of these can be done through a variety of HR-driven methodologies - but Valence does offer this as a manager enablement program within the employee assessment platform as well.

Question: Would you differentiate “team” coaching from individual coaching in curricula and strategic programs?

Answer: Yes! Exactly - there is a difference between the two in the types of assessments and support you’d want to consider for both individuals and teams. However, the magic in making coaching effective is when those two work in tandem and inform each other. One way to think about it - is if you have a high performer at a company where the culture prefers status quo thinking, it’s really hard for that person to actually make an impact and bring change that is vital to the growth and evolution of an organization. So when you look at that person’s preferences and skillset independently, you also want to enable them to see the opportunity areas to influence those around them. At the end of the day, work gets done in teams. It’s much easier to apply the coaching someone receives when it takes into account the challenges that face them in the environment they work within (the team).

Still haven’t seen the webinar or want to share it with a colleague? You can check it out on-demand here.

Want to see more content like this webinar? Drop us a line and let us know!