Virtual Teams

Are you ready to triple the skills of your people?

Whilst many organisations are still struggling with an uneven recovery from COVID, we also need to plan for 2022 and beyond, and we need to think about how we develop our people for a world where the working environment has taken a step up in complexity.

Inevitably right now a lot of focus on the return to the office and some managers still seem to think that this represents an end to the pandemic and a return to business as usual.

However, hybrid working seems likely to keep trigger a wave of innovation and disruption in how we lead, work and collaborate.

Some participants in our training have said “I know how to work face to face, I’ve now learned how to work remotely, how different will hybrid be? Presumably we just put the two together.” Unfortunately managing three modes of collaboration and three different working environments is much harder than just switching from the office to working from home.

As we move into a hybrid future there is a good chance that all soft skills will need to be exercised in an environment well we are sometimes face to face, sometimes remote and often in a hybrid mode where some people are in the room and others are joining virtually.

Each of these contexts requires different skills and it’s time to start thinking about our leadership models and our capability development curricula so we are equipping our people with the skills they need for this reality.

For many people this means tripling their level of skill in a range of core leadership and cooperation tasks. Take a simple example – running effective meetings

  • It takes real skill to facilitate an effective face to face meeting, you need to prepare the agenda, design an effective process for meeting your outcomes, enable participation in the room and work with the group dynamics during the meeting. Before COVID, dissatisfaction with face-to-face meetings was already high, people told us they spent 40% of their time in meetings and 50% of the content was irrelevant, most people were dissatisfied with the meetings. So despite having decades (or centuries) of face to face meetings experience, we never successfully developed the skills at scale to consistently deliver a good meetings experience.
  • Then we started running virtual meetings. Virtual meetings were common before COVID and almost everyone has had a crash course in at least attending virtual meetings in the last two years. In running effective virtual meetings we need to develop additional skills in managing engagement and participation. As participants we need to learn how to participate effectively on camera and through tools like chat in virtual meetings. Whilst virtual meetings are now common, when we run our effective virtual meetings training it is pretty clear that most people still haven’t mastered either the platforms they use or the skills of facilitating virtually. We still have a lot of work to do in developing effective virtual meeting skills
  • Now along come hybrid meetings. Suddenly we need to find a way to equalise the meeting experience and create contribution from people who are in the room and from people who are joining remotely at the same time. These types of meetings have been common in international teams for many years and in general they were a poor experience for the virtual join us who tended to get ignored. Can we afford for the majority of our meetings to be this poor in future? Almost nobody has yet developed the scales to run effective hybrid meetings

We can apply this same thinking to other topics such as leading people, building teams, communication etc.

This is going to require a revolution in the content and delivery of training and capability building. We are already working with many organisations who are focusing on some of the initial differences in working in a hybrid world such as managing proximity bias, facilitating hybrid meetings, leading conversations about work flexibility etc, and these are an important start.

The next big task is to adapt our entire approach to skills development to a world where we may have just tripled the skills our people need.

What are your plans to triple the skills of your people?

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