Alistair Shepherd discusses the latest technology advancing team training
Another set of positive quarterly results from many FMCG companies this October should be reason to cheer but competition, politics and changing consumer behaviour means nobody can stand still. The usual response to changes in consumer behaviour is to innovate. But innovation is easier said than done, to get it right smart people with good ideas need to work together – effectively. Strong, effective teamwork is key to success in any ambitious FMCG business.
Today we’re working in cross functional, remote and project teams, moving fast, becoming more agile and improving our performance as a result. However, while the structure of our organisations evolve, the people within them are the same. Team members need the support they’ve had in the past – good managers, teammates who they can turn to, companies that make them feel valued and work with a purpose. Teamwork is not new, it’s not a difficult concept but, in practice, it’s not easy to get right. Teamwork – which traditionally formed quite naturally now needs a bit more thought and a bit more effort. Luckily, like many other parts of our jobs, there are new tools that can help. Research by Google into what makes a successful team lists psychological safety as the number one factor. Our work with FMCG leaders echoes this, with the overwhelming majority of individuals describing strong relationships, trust and shared values as their top people priorities.
There’s no denying the best way to build trust is through face to face interaction, but today this isn’t always possible. Instead managers need to carefully manage one-to-one and team meetings so they can get to know their team personally. This is key to developing trust and therefore high performance. A meta-analysis of 112 studies (nearly 8000 teams) confirmed a positive relationship between how much team members trust one another and the achievement of team goals. Yet managers are stretched and sometimes it’s tempting to skip steps because they just don’t have time. But in the long term this doesn’t pay.
For example – goals, another hot topic for FMCG leaders. While organisational goals are usually clear, they can be hard to cascade and make relevant to teams who are not at executive level. Without understanding what motivates their team, it’s almost impossible for managers to set meaningful goals yet studies show that team goal-setting can lead to higher team cohesion, increased buy in and motivation. Company leaders can support managers by equipping them with goal-setting tools. For example, a virtual workshop on translating company goals into more meaningful team goals gives the team, manager and company a better chance of success. Choosing on-demand software over traditional workshops also ensures every manager has the same easy access and all teams are on an equal footing.
Finally, business leaders have identified the value in upskilling managers to become coaches. This is especially relevant in a multi-generational workplace as reports show, in a Millennials’ ideal work week there would be significantly more time devoted to coaching and mentoring. However, lots of great managers find it almost impossible to make time in their day for anything other than business-as-usual, so training must fit alongside day to day work. Tools can help make time, save time and remind managers about the good habits and intentions they set out for their team. Technology like CoachBot can provide managers with coaching frameworks and conversations that they can easily embed into their everyday.
When your biggest cost is your people, as it is for most companies, you need to ensure the best possible return on this investment. And you simply can’t get the best out of a workforce unless managers are supported in coaching their team towards higher performance.
Former aerospace engineer turned entrepreneur, Alistair was inspired to launch the company after extensive research, at Harvard University, around people, team dynamics and business start-ups. He now applies his systems thinking to human systems in the world of work.
For more information, visit: www.saberr.com