Blog #7 – Connection

So, would it be a fair assumption that before March 2020, you felt you knew your colleagues pretty well? Certainly, in the normal professional context and to varying degrees, on a close, if not very close, personal level. Could you gauge their body language and voice intonation in the room fairly instinctively? How about the depth of relationship comfort you had with your organisation, its strategy, direction and culture? Unless you had recently started a new role, I suspect the answer to most of those questions was positive and affirmative.

How has that evolved in the last two and a half months? For starters, I expect that if you weren’t before, you are now far more familiar with colleagues’ kitchens / sitting rooms / home offices / spare bedrooms than you ever had been, due to the escalation of working from home video calls. Your interactions and connection will have had to adjust significantly. Most likely, these new features of communicating will have to continue and embed for some time to come, as we strive towards ever greater effectiveness amidst continued remote working and distancing. In my other core field of executive search, it is fascinating to see how building connections via video interview processes and people starting new positions ‘remotely’ is developing.

Whether it’s building new connections, or optimising current ones, assessing the state of ‘Connection’, set by leadership, experienced by teams, and in driving performance, is the fifth of the six key components of the Performance Climate System measurement. Here’s how we look at it.

Connection: the team’s approach to its network of relationships

A high performing team will have a strong bond with everyone collaborating to achieve results. The connection team members feel toward their colleagues and to the purpose and goals of the team is critical to motivation and this segment measures that connection or glue. Team members may create a strong identity or brand in order to demonstrate pride. They will also feel rewarded and recognised. This is much more than financial; being about individual value and pride in their achievements.

Performance Climate System explores ‘Connection’ in three focus areas:

Connection (in itself): PCS looks at the extent to which team members feel allied to each other and associated with the team’s vision and goals. Connection is the glue which keeps the team together. It is critical to look at how people understand and interact with the work of the team and that of other colleagues. Trust always has to be there, so it should be measured. What could be getting in the way of close and strong relationships and how can the team improve relationships and levels of trust? We test how the team defines the ‘glue’ that binds them together and PCS assesses which areas could be improved quickest and with least effort. Looking forwards, where connection is already good, PCS helps leaders and teams optimise and sustain relationships and build on existing trust, whilst feeding thoughts about how the leader and the wider organisation can create an ever-greater sense of connection.

Pride & Identity: This we define as the existence of satisfaction in how the team operates and the collective brand of the team. PCS considers factors such as: Does the team have a clear identity and purpose that everyone buys into? How is the team and organisation viewed internally and externally? Is there a sense of ‘group’ or ‘team’ identity? How identifiable is the team brand and how does the team communicate and celebrate its brand and identity?

Reward & Recognition: Here, we are thinking about the acknowledgment of successes and completion of work. Likely very obvious things to most people, we consider: are (relevant) processes in place to reward and recognise good performance? Is reward and recognition perceived and valued as non-financial as well as financial? Does the team take time to identify and celebrate success? Are incentives and rewards appropriate to the activity of the team? Is the leader comfortable giving praise and ‘calling out’ good performance? Is reward and recognition a shared experience in the team? Equally, does the team seek external (and senior) recognition for success in the team?

Everyone, I suspect, will have given much personal thought to connection in its different forms during the Coronavirus pandemic. But those professional angles we have discussed here today will also have been – and remain – relevant. I anticipate that Spring 2020 will turn out to be only the early months of how we will all continue to adapt our connection with our teams, our colleagues and our wider stakeholders in the future.

Next time we will move on to the final building block of the Performance Climate System. Another major factor for all of us in ‘these times’ – Resilience.

Toby Ellison, June 2020

Zac's Challenges:

Zac’s tech business is growing rapidly. He’s gone from being a developer with a good idea to now overseeing an ever-expanding team. Zac knows that in order for the business to grow successfully, it needs to stay true to its founding values and his staff need to feel valued and engaged. Zac wants to understand if he and his team are on the same page and he needs to do it quickly and cost effectively.

Zac's PCS Solution

Zac decides to use PCS Lite to get a quick temperature check of how his team are performing and what they think about the business. The PCS Lite report quickly surfaces the fact that his team have lost sight of the organisation’s purpose and goals. Zac realises that he needs to improve his on-boarding processes and help orientate the new team members better in the company culture and vision. 6 months later, Zac uses PCS Lite to check his new onboarding process is working; concludes that the growing team are much better aligned to his vision and are generally operating in a more positive working environment.

Annabel's Challenges:

It’s Annabel’s job to help the Partners in the firm manage their clients and ensure they’re consistently adding value. Recently, Annabel has been asked by one of the Partners to find a tool or framework that the consultants can use to benchmark new clients looking for team and leadership improvement programmes. It needs to be cost-effective, established and reputable and able to be branded with the firm’s own logo.

Annabel's PCS Solution

Annabel recommends PCS Pro to the Senior Partners as it provides an objective measurement of team and leadership climate against which the consultants can build performance improvement programmes. PCS has a good track record, academic validation, excellent training and customer service, so she’s confident that it’s the right tool for the firm’s consultants to use.

Sarah's Challenges:

Sarah has to keep across the multiple training and development needs in the organisation and do it within a tight budget. Recently, Sarah’s been asked to design a L&D programme that improves the staff retention rate and helps staff feel more engaged with the changes happening in the organisation, not least the shift to more flexible working.

Sarah's PCS Solution

Sarah uses PCS to measure how different teams across the organisation are performing and look at any patterns which suggest the need for organisation-wide, leader or team training. Sarah notices that all teams and leaders have a low climate score in the Processes segment. Sarah knows that allocating budget in this area will improve performance. She works with the Senior Management Team to review the organisation’s processes as they transition to more flexible working and designs a training programme to support staff in the transition. She’s helped staff to feel supported, acknowledged and engaged which ultimately drives performance. 

Jim's Challenges:

Jim’s client has a team that’s not performing as well other teams in the organisation. The team has a high staff turnover, sickness and the lack of cohesion is impacting the team’s wellbeing and performance. Jim needs to get to the bottom of why this is happening and design effective coaching interventions which can generate tangible results for his client.

Jim's PCS Solution

Jim uses PCS Pro to measure / benchmark how the team and leader are performing across the 6 segments critical to team performance – Goals, Roles, Processes, Adaptability, Connection and Resilience. He can immediately see the disparity in Goals, Processes and Connection between the leader’s perception and those of her team. He uses this information to build a coaching programme designed align team and leader. After 6 months, the team seems to be more settled and productive. Jim remeasures using PCS Pro – the results show the client the effectiveness of his coaching intervention.