How people & teams can overcome hybrid work challenges & succeed

Tougher Minds Founder Dr. Jon Finn explains how people and teams can overcome hybrid work challenges and succeed.

Dr. Jon highlights how remote working can be highly problematic and…

  • The secrets of building a world-class team and what high-performing teams must do to be successful.
  • How to create an optimal environment for successful communication and collaboration, so teams can innovate, achieve long-term objectives and overcome major challenges.

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Podcast Transcription

Hi, everyone, this is Dr. Jon Finn. Welcome to another Tougher Minds podcast. I’m out walking again, I’m reflecting on remote working, hybrid working, work of the future, as some people are calling it and the challenges….the inevitable challenges that that brings. And if we don’t overcome these challenges, then we’re going to have workforces that are full of people that are not well, and not performing to their potential. And lots of our clients are thinking about these challenges at the moment, or we’re working with them to do that. So just wanting to reflect on what some of those challenges were. And some of the big ideas, we’re going to have to understand in order to overcome those challenges successfully. I think to understand the problem and the challenge of remote working and hybrid working – that is working in the office sometimes and sometimes working from home- we have to think about what we want our teams to do. So to understand that, we have to understand what’s the challenge of the modern world. Well the challenge we face the modern world, the VUCA world – the volatile, uncertain, complex world – is that there’s only one constant, and the constant is change. Things are changing faster than ever before. Long gone are the factory models from the first and the second industrial revolution, where you could literally learn your job, learn your trade, when you were young and that set you for the rest of your life. You could then literally just turn up to work every day, fit in and then just keep doing the job that you’d learned how to do. That isn’t the case anymore, we need to keep refining and adapting and upskilling ourselves. Because the world is changing all the time and changing faster than ever before. So in order to create teams that are good at doing that, we need to create teams that are good at solving problems, solving complex problems for themselves, and also for clients. Because the VUCA world just keeps growing problems that we have to overcome. And teams that do that really well have what we call triadic relationships. These are relationships which tell us that communication and collaboration are REALLY excellent. Because if we’re going to get good at solving complex problems, we need to have really good communication and collaboration within a team. Now in order to create an environment where people are very good at communicating and collaborating, there are three core conditions that need to be in place. Number one is people need to feel safe. We call this….sometimes refer to this as a psychological safety. If people don’t feel safe, their brains don’t work properly. And it’s hard, much harder for them to manage their wellbeing and their performance. And to think creatively and innovatively thinking the way that we need to think if we’re going to create new ideas and solve problems. The second condition is that in the first instance – and eventually everybody in World Class teams, if you want to build a world class team – everybody – and in the first instance, that titled leaders – need to share vulnerability, they need to say I’m working on myself, I’m trying to get better, I’m not perfect. Because by doing that, they’re signalling to everybody else that that’s what we do in this team, everyone is working on themselves to get better. Nobody is the finished article, because the skill set you required to be at your best in the last 12 months, will not allow you to be your best in the next 12 months. Because the world is changing all the time. And the third condition, if we’re going to have really world class teams, is that we need to establish purpose. What is the team’s role and what is it aiming to do? How does that fit into the organization’s role, etc. So that I can connect my roles and responsibilities and get better each there with what the team is ultimately trying to achieve to be at its best. So we’ve got to share vulnerability……we’ve got to establish psychological safety, we’ve got to share vulnerability. And we’ve got to establish purpose. And that’s going to help the team to communicate and collaborate really well. Now one of the core brain technologies that allows every individual in the group to do that, individually and collectively, is a part of the brain called mirror neurons. Mirror neurons essentially allow us to read other people’s emotions. Is someone angry? Are they upset? Are they engaged, are they turned on and this technology works best when we are face to face. When we are in “in-person” situations, when we’re trying to use this “brain technology” via video conferencing, it just doesn’t work as well. We’ve all experienced that slow delay on the internet feed, where we talk over each other. And we can’t quite read what the other person is doing, unless they’ve got the camera on, which isn’t always the case. So remote working makes it much harder to actually use this, this “brain technology”, mirror neurons, is essential for building safety, sharing vulnerability and establishing purpose. And beyond that, when we’re working from home, many people report in this blur between work and life in a much more intense way than they’ve ever seen it before. They don’t know where the line is between their job, and they’re in their home life anymore. And that’s causing many what I’d call sources of strain, these little stresses that are caused by what I describe as disconnections of meaning systems, which essentially make people more stressed in an unhelpful way. And these the stresses that add up and they stop people sleeping properly, and they stop their brains working properly. And they mean that people’s well being gets reduced. And that means that their performance they can’t perform to their potential etc. They’re just……people just get into a big cycle of negative……a negative state of being which makes both individual and ultimately team performance more difficult. So they’re, they’re some of the challenges with the hybrid model of work that we’re going into. So what are the solutions? Well, in order to find the solutions, we have to use science, we have to use behavioural science and neuroscience and psychology. And we combine that to call it leadership science. So we’re pioneering the understanding of leadership science, to help businesses perform to that potential.

And I would say that we can use leadership science to inform probably three broad things that we’re going to have to get much better at, if we’re going to succeed with the hybrid work models that we’re all looking to adapt. So the first thing we can use leadership science to help us to do is create what we call team power. So as I’ve just pointed out, in the challenges of hybrid work, being a really successful world class team will just get more difficult. So, in order to overcome that challenge, we have to help people to understand what good teams do and what high performing teams do in order to be successful.

And that’s why we’ve created our team power model, which is a five stage model that allows everybody in the team to understand both their very obvious roles and responsibilities, but also their invisible roles and responsibilities, like getting better at regulating their emotions, like making sure that they’re doing their very best to be at their best, by making sure they’re looking after their brands properly, etc. like making sure they’re bringing their best self to every meeting, we can use that team power model to make it easier for teams to be at their best. And we’ve started to do that really successfully. Because everyone in the team, not just the leaders need to understand what good teams do in order to be successful. The second thing we can use leadership science to do is recognise that actually, leading a team is just going to get more difficult. And therefore we have to help our leaders to up their game. And that means we have to start teaching leaders about how their brain works about how to analyse the leadership habits, both the good ones, but the ones that are stopping them from being leaders and help leaders to systematically become better. So they are better able to influence their team’s behaviour because that’s ultimately their job.

And we use our team power leadership model to be able to do that which has four areas: the role model, the action communicator, the cultural architect and the SWAT coach. And then once leaders understand how to manage and change their own behaviour, they then need to be able to use behavioural science to help them to understand how to change other people’s behaviour. And we’ve created our main action factor model to help people to do that. And then the final area, we can use leadership science to help us to understand and overcome the challenges of hybrid work is that we have to we have to help people to get better at managing their own behaviour because leaders will be less effective If I influencing that team’s behaviour in this new hybrid work model, and therefore we have to empower each individual in the team to get better at managing their own behaviour. And that means we need to teach people more than ever before, about how their brain works, and about how and what they can do, to actually help themselves to build better habits, for their health, their happiness and their performance. And, again, we’ve developed lots of tools that make it really easy for individuals to understand how their brain works, we use our lighthouse brain model, tools to analyse the habits, both the good ones and the ones that they can work on. And also tools to help them to build more new healthful habits. So that’s just a summary overview, really, of some of the challenges that I see the hybrid work model bringing. But none of these challenges are insurmountable. But what we must do is get much better at using insights from leadership science, and its behavioural science, neuroscience and psychology, to actually help us to understand why teams need in order to be really successful. And that’s gonna start with helping each individual member of the team understand themselves better. And also understand how the team works better and what they need to do to help the team work. And also means we’ve got to help our leaders up their game, because leadership just got more difficult. And we can use leadership science to help us manage all those three areas. If you want to learn more about just helping yourself to do a little bit better every day, which is the basis of, of individual and team performance, just meet everyone working themselves just to get a little bit better every day. We’ve created the me power resilience planner, which is absolutely free, all you need to do is go to our website, and you’ll be able to download that. And get access to it fast. It shows you some really simple and practical things that you can do. And actually others in your team can start building better habits. And you only need to spend two minutes a day using that tool. And they will immediately start to have positive impacts. So I hope that helps. Please do take us up on the offer of the free planet. It’s a really powerful tool. And I want to be speaking lots more about the challenges of hybrid work, how we can overcome those challenges, how we can use culture, to overcome those challenges, to help our people on our teams, to be resilient, to help our leaders to be outstanding, and ultimately to create world class teams. They’re going to help the organisation to actually beat the competition in the vuca world where you know performing to our potential is more challenging than ever before.


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