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August 13, 2021Written By Rachel Breitbach4 minute read
That’s why building trust should be a priority for any organization or leader. Trust is a challenge to build when everyone works in a common location. It’s a few orders of magnitude more difficult when your team is hybrid with a part together and a part remote.
Given the growth of hybrid teams, a new approach to leadership is required. Specifically, leaders and organizations will need to rely more on building strong connections--not just individually with each team member but within their teams. This will build the foundation of trust and allow them to become more agile and flexible.
Build your connections with team members
It’s harder to stay connected when you and your team members aren't in the same place. With remote team members, you don’t cross paths in the cafeteria or have impromptu conversations outside a conference room between meetings. You also don’t want to alienate those who are remote if there are some who are able to work together again in a single location. The reality of today’s non-co-located work environments mean you must consciously plan to build connections.
These trust-building connections can be simple. They work best when you reach out to someone outside of what is expected or a regular communication channel. For example, occasionally use a regular business channel to acknowledge something personal instead of always focusing on work. This has been especially effective as more and more co-workers have been forced to share about their personal life given it is readily visible in camera views during virtual calls.
When you connect with your team members outside of regularly scheduled conversations like 1:1s or team meetings, you build stronger connections and create greater trust.
Building stronger connections also helps our teams become more agile with change. I’ve found many times that even if there aren’t robust change plans, if team members have a strong connection to their leader, teams will follow where they are led.
Encourage and enable team members to connect with one another
This activity can take many forms. One way is to connect a person struggling with a task with another team member who has the skills and experience to help them build their skillset. This way the struggling team member can resolve the current challenge and then add a tool to their own toolkit.
You can also help connect team members outside of the work environment. Maybe they share a hobby, a particular recreational interest, or something else they’re passionate about (e.g. book clubs).
Using some of the collaboration survey tools that are now more readily available, have team members ask prompting questions of one another that all can see, either about work or life. This builds a deeper level of connection and understanding about their life experiences, views and what makes them “tick.” Some examples include:
Define success differently
When team members are in a hybrid environment, it helps build trust if you redefine what success looks like for the entire team. Remote work allows people to incorporate more flexibility into how they work. Ensure that you also build that type of flexibility for those that are coming to the office. You don’t always have to follow a strict 9-5 physical workday for those coming into the office. Depending on the nature of the work, enlist team members to discuss when it is critical to be available for others to collaborate but allow them to also have some flexibility for physical activity, kids’ events or whatever else may be important to them without requiring use of PTO for these.
Be open and transparent when you communicate
Following this principle builds clarity and reduces ambiguity and uncertainty. Direct long-term benefits flow when you’re open and honest with your communication.
Use tools to reinforce the concept of open communication. For example, a Kanban board (see visual below) is a handy self-serve way for everyone on the hybrid team to have clarity around short-term accountabilities and deliverables. Everyone can see where they are with their tasks and everyone else’s status too. It’s good for general team trust and communication clarity.
Finally, assume good intentions and good will
As a leader there’s one guiding principle you should always follow: assume good intentions are behind every action and assume good will is part of every team member’s approach to his or her job.
Try and try again
Any one of these tips and tools is a step to greater authentic leadership. Greater connection and increased trust should follow use of the above approaches naturally. So, pick something that resonates, be open with team members that you are trying it out, and get their feedback to see if it is providing the desired effect. If not, try and try again. Just the mere fact that you are specifically focusing on continuing to build trust within your team will build connections. And with the increased trust, you will be able to help each other navigate the hybrid environment as well as other changes that occur daily in today’s landscape.
Rachel BreitbachAs the Change Practice Lead and Sr. Advisor at FarWell, Rachel has over 25 years of experience delivering complex global transformation initiatives and helping organizations become more agile. She coaches leaders to fulfill their critical role to lead and support their teams through change, increasing their ability to adopt change. She regularly speaks on building an agile mindset and leading change. She enjoys watching her daughters play sports, being involved in her community, playing tennis and eating chocolate whenever possible!
Let’s Be EQ Smart about Emotions When Change is Afoot3 minute read
Emotions are data that emotionally intelligent (EQ) leaders and organizations can use to adeptly navigate change and strengthen employee engagement. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely sat in the change management cockpit. This article invites you to become skilled at reading the emotion dials on the flight deck console of your change project and use that data for successful change implementation. Seasoned pilots and passengers know it’s not fun to fly in turbulent air space… and you shouldn’t have to!
Simply put, emotions are messages from us, to us.[ii] Why would we not want to pay attention?
To quote General Electric’s Jack Welch, “No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experiences says it is actually more important in the making of a leader.”[v] This statement is supported by data that suggests that EQ is more important than IQ as a meta-ability that allows us to harness our innate abilities for a fulfilling and rewarding career.[vi] Chip Heath, professor at Stanford’s business school, advises change practitioners to “pay attention to creating an emotional case for change, not just an analytical one.”[iii] Good advice, but easier said than done!
Better than leaving emotions at the door – because you can’t – gain insights from them to more deftly navigate change.
Valuing EQ smarts is resisted because it requires a mental shift from a negative view of emotions as unwelcome in the workplace, to knowing them as assets. How many times have you heard the refrain “if only people would leave their emotions at the door, resistance to change would evaporate!” You don’t have to welcome getting annoyed in a meeting, but you can be satisfied when you are attuned to that feeling and can use that data well.
Because emotions always come into the room with us, EQ smart change practitioners strive for self-efficacy which give us greater cognitive control and the ability to regulate our response. Self-efficacy is not leaving emotions at the door, rather harnessing an awareness of them and using navigational skills to produce better decisions, better relationships and the ability to lead with your best self.[iv]
Fortunately, conventional wisdom about emotions in the workplace is changing. That’s a good thing. Neuroscience explains why emotions are never left at the door, nor can they be. Emotions like surprise, sadness, anger and anticipation are simply chemicals in our bodies that should tell us something. Sadness signals something important is missing. Surprise points out that reality is different from our beliefs. Anger alerts us to something or someone who has blocked our way forward… and we’re not liking it![i].
EQ smart leaders foster employee engagement when change is afoot
Still not convinced about the value of EQ smart change leadership? Know that the business case for EQ is compelling. If you agree that navigating emotions fosters engagement in a change process and engaged people drive business transformation, nothing about the business case should surprise you. At Amadori, a McDonald’s supplier in Italy, scores on an EQ assessment predicted employee engagement, a factor directly correlated with plant performance. Following an EQ intervention at Siemen’s Healthineers, the number of engaged managers doubled and the number disengaged dropped by over half. [vii]
Engaged employees are the ones who are full participants in the change initiative at every level: cognitively, emotionally and physically. You can foster this awareness and build EQ competency muscles with the following exercise:
Insights into emotions attune us with ourselves and one another at a time when the world’s workplace is being reimagined.
Virtual work during a pandemic has simultaneously separated us and dropped us into each other’s home offices and living rooms, places of emotional turbulence for many. EQ smart change leaders have reached out, meaningfully connected with colleagues, smoothing the transition to the new world of work that is emerging. The good news is that these EQ lessons learned bumping through the turbulence of 2020 can stay with us. Stop and think for a moment how awareness of your own emotions over the past year caused you to connect with other people in a different way. That’s a good place to start your EQ journey!
[i] Freeman, Joshua (2019) At the Heart of Leadership: How to Get Results with Emotional Intelligence. Six Seconds, pp. 132-136.
[ii] Freeman, Joshua (2020) Decode Your Emotions with One Simple Tool [video] www.6seconds.org/2020/08/11/plutchik-wheel-emotions/
[iii] Mckinsey & Company (2010, March 1) Making the Emotional Case for Change: An Interview with Chip Heath. www.mckinsey.com
[iv] Freeman, Joshua (2019), p. 3.
[v] Ibid, p. 12.
[vi] Goleman, Daniel (2006) Emotional Intelligence (Kindle) Bantam Books. Retrieved from Amazon.com.
[vii] Freeman, Joshua (2019), pp. 6, 44-46.
David Wunsch is a Change Management Practitioner focused on helping organizations thrive when making strategic pivots. David has worked in Spanish and English with organizations in the U.S. and around the globe to manage change through people-centered solutions that capitalize on emerging opportunities, optimize team performance, and grow revenue streams. David pairs skilled facilitation to his change management practice to tap into the wellspring of knowledge and expertise housed in diverse work forces. Practice areas: culture shift, technology adoption, business process redesign, Technology of Participation (ToP®) facilitation methodology.
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