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Called to Coach
How to Improve Teamwork in the Hybrid Workplace
Called to Coach

How to Improve Teamwork in the Hybrid Workplace

Webcast Details

  • What are some important elements in building -- or rebuilding -- trust, in the hybrid workplace?
  • What can managers do to refine how they coach and communicate in this workplace?
  • How can managers tap into human needs remotely or in person to build teamwork and productivity?

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.

"Human needs are consistent -- pre-pandemic, during pandemic or even ... post-pandemic, the human needs are basically ... consistent. But how we meet those needs [is] ... different." What strategies can managers employ to meet the human needs of team members? What changes can they make in their communication, including how they listen, to better coach and manage people and to improve teamwork in the hybrid workplace? What is the role of trust in this process, and how can managers build -- or rebuild -- team trust? Danny Lee, Gallup Senior Global Workplace Consultant and Executive Coach, joins the webcast to give us his insights on teamwork.

When it comes to trust and collaboration, ... it doesn't really matter whether it's hybrid or whether it's full-time getting together in person; trust is trust.

Danny Lee, 8:12

One thing that's really important about this hybrid, virtual world is that it's not a computer experience; we have to make it a human experience.

Danny Lee, 14:17

Coaching does not ... have to be a 1-hour conversation or a 30-minute conversation; coaching happens all the time.

Danny Lee, 21:55

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and welcome to the CliftonStrengths Podcast. On this podcast, we'll be covering topics such as wellbeing, teamwork, professional development and more. Now enjoy this episode. This episode was previously recorded on LinkedIn live.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:17
Danny, let's get to know you a little bit. Tell us a little bit -- for folks who don't know you -- tell us a little bit about what you do for Gallup.

Danny Lee 0:22
Yeah, absolutely. So Gallup as an organization, if I have to really simplify, I would say we're an organization that studies human performance -- human performance, what differentiates human performance. And at the aggregate level, then we'll also get interested in things like team performance. And then the team gets bigger, and then we look, study what makes organizations, what drives organizational performance? And I've worked with Gallup for, now, 15 years. And along that journey, I've worked in 20 different, 20 different countries internationally. Although I'm located in California here, many times I'm outside of the U.S. And along that journey also work with about, over 300 companies and organizations.

Danny Lee 1:06
But my role at Gallup is, is a coach. I'm a strengths coach, and I develop strengths coaches and work a lot with leaders. And so far about, I would count maybe a little bit over 3,500 leaders across the globe I'll work with. But a lot of times I engage with folks in the coaching space on a one-on-one space. So people do open up a lot, open up a lot to me about how they really feel about their life, their career and their, and their workplaces. So I'm more of a strengths coach and strengths practitioner in that sense. I'm not a researcher or a scientist by any stretch of, you know, imagination. My Top 5, CliftonStrengths-wise, is I lead with Individualization, Empathy, Connectedness, Harmony and Developer.

Jim Collison 1:56
Wow, that's great. Great, great to have you. I've been looking forward to this conversation for a while. Arranger, Woo, Maximizer, Communication, Activator for me. Many of you are throwing that in the chat room; we'd love to continue to have you put your Top 5, where you're listening from. We'd also, kind of asking the question of, What's your work environment? Are you hybrid? Are you in the office full time? Are you at home full time? Are you remote full time? What would you consider yourself in that? And then what strength are you're using? Like, if you think about your own Top 5, what are you using in this, whatever work situation? What are you leaning into? Danny, let me ask you that question. How would you characterize your workplace? And then what are you using from your Top 5 or even Top 10, if you want to bring that in?

Danny Lee 2:41
Yeah, I would say before the, the pandemic, I would, yes, I did have an office. Yes, I did have a space in the office. But because I was traveling so much, I would probably categorize myself as almost like 99% -- 98%, 99% remote. And then the pandemic happened. And so now it's more like a hybrid, where mostly I'm working from home, although I can go to the office. Maybe 80% I'm spending time working from home, 20% in the office, and business travel has picked up a little bit. So I did get to travel international a little bit, but not as much as I, as I used to.

Danny Lee 3:22
So in this particular environment, I would say probably I'm exercising a lot, a lot of my Individualization, exercising a lot of my Connectedness; continue to do meaningful work, but also kind of keep an eye open for, you know, what's happening around the world in humanity, and how do I continue to contribute in a way where the workplace environments, and the environments within our client organizations, are massively, massively changing? I use a lot of my -- it's in my Top 10 -- Adaptability as well, and my Discipline. So I'll have a plan, but most likely, I may not follow that plan. And that's how, that's how I'm rolling these days.

Jim Collison 4:10
Yeah, or you might have a couple plans. Like I find -- I have high Adaptability as well. And I have a couple plans. I can kind of move different -- even these webcasts. While we have a plan, in my brain, I have about 15 plans. Right. And it just is one of those kind of ways it worked. So I spent some time this morning with Jaclynn Robinson, Dr. Jaclynn Robinson. We talked about Adaptability and Analytical from a wellbeing perspective. Let me, let me throw that question at you right here. What -- how are you staying -- in a, you know, in a situation where you're highly remote, and you're not necessarily going into the office, how are you keeping your wellbeing high? What are you doing personally to help with that, and how are you entering into that?

Danny Lee 4:50
Yeah, so I'm going to get a little bit geeky here. Because the, you know, I am a strengths coach. I do live and breathe a lot of this, in this world of leaning into people's talent. And for my personal self, it's really looking at -- because wellbeing, it's one word, but it's, it means many different things to different people. How we're wired talentwise also gives some information about what gives us energy and what charges our energy where we feel like, "Oh, my wellbeing is in a good, in a good place." So if you lead with, say, Activator or Achiever, then getting things done, getting to initiate things gives you energy, and you feel more productive.

Danny Lee 5:31
For myself, I'm more of a high Connectedness person. So having some quiet time, thinking time, making sense of things, what's happening around the world. And even when I'm working out and exercising, engaging in physical activities to keep myself healthy, it's more in tune with, it's less about, I'm going to beat my record, I'm going to beat my time. It's more about, How can I run becoming more meditative? How can I run and still become more peaceful? How can I run and use that as a time to cleanse a lot of the kind of unnecessary clutter of thoughts that are within me, and link those at -- wellbeing activities to my Top 5 or my Top 10?

Jim Collison 6:15
We're going to talk about improving teamwork, right, in these hybrid environments. And I think it's important to start with self, because it's tough to improve teamwork if you're struggling yourself, right. And I love, I would never, would have put "running" and "peaceful" -- I ran for a lot of years -- and never put those two together. But great for you that you're trying to kind of reach that or find that point of how do we take these two activities and put them together to create a great wellbeing environment for me? Lots of great comments are coming in on the chat room, appreciate you -- Reilly's behind the scenes, posting those. And, and we're using the Power of 2 on that. Reilly, I appreciate your work on that to get those up. Keep them coming in!

Building Trust Back Into the Hybrid Workplace

Jim Collison 6:57
Some great comments -- we're seeing folks working full remote; we're, we're seeing folks working hybrid; some have gone back in to the workplace and are doing it full time from there. Danny, as we think about this idea, then, improving teamwork. OK. When we think about teamwork, we have this idea of 4 Needs of Followers, right, coming out of our Strengths Based Leadership: trust, stability, compassion and hope are those. How do we, I think -- they're in that order on purpose, by the way. And that idea of trust, as we think about reestablishing trust in the workplace, in this hybrid environment, things have maybe been different. They've been different maybe for a while, or maybe they went, they, they were the same, then different, then same, then different. They've been going back and forth, right? Even hybrid, whatever. What are some things we can do to kind of start building trust back into the workplace?

Danny Lee 7:46
Yeah. So I think when it comes to trust, it's, it's a word we all know. But building trust is so hard, I think -- it takes time. And trust is something that, when you have it, you know, it's, it's almost like we take it for granted. But when we don't have that trust, it's hard to build. So how do we really build trust when, from place of, of mistrust? And I think, when it comes to trust and collaboration, we have to go down to, it doesn't really matter whether it's hybrid or whether it's full-time getting together in, in person; trust is trust. So it's, it, it may differ how we tackle trust or build trust, because we don't get to see each other one on one. And we get, don't get to, like, really sense each other's body languages and things like that. But we're still human beings.

Danny Lee 8:37
So when we're building trust, I think one thing about trust is, most of the time, frequency matters. Frequent -- trust is not built through big events or one-time this, "OK, we're going to do this trust exercise," and it's all of a sudden, like, boom -- built. It's those many small, simple steps over time that builds trust. So even when we're thinking about, you know, what are those mini, little things that, that we need? Being transparent, and being transparent with higher frequency over time -- that builds trust. Being care -- care about the person. And when you're making sense, more caring comments, you're showing caring behavior, whether it's remotely or sending a text message or even recognizing small, you know, good behaviors in a group meeting, that builds, that builds care, and do that more frequently over time.

Danny Lee 9:37
Listening, I think, is a big thing, building trust. A lot of us in the workplace are so busy. Even in coaching, we say there's three levels of listening. And a lot of times we're just listening at the level one -- we listen to react, we listen to respond. And even in a remote conversation setting, try to think about -- we're not, we're talking with each other, and we're listening more, rather than trying to talk to the person, where you're taking 80% of the airtime and barely giving the other person to speak their mind. So graduated listening at a higher level. And we do it frequently over time. It doesn't have to be long conversation, but even in short conversation, how do I increase more of the listening and build it into habits? It's increasing the frequency of recognition, increasing the frequency of empowering.

Danny Lee 10:36
So trust is kind of like, you can't build trust unless you're entrusting. And part of entrusting another person is by empowering them, delegating them, setting clear expectations, but then enable them to figure out ways to reach those outcomes in the way that's more natural to them. Be more inquisitive about each other's differences and their, the strengths that they bring. Even CliftonStrengths, it's one in 33 million to meet somebody who's wired exactly the same as you are. So we are all wired differently; we have different batteries. So as we become more inquisitive, and we increase that frequency, that will build trust over time.

Danny Lee 11:25
Whereas if we think about, when we're so busy, and we don't have room to do those frequency, let's say we're always listening at level one; we are showing uncare, like body behavior or body language or the way we speak with each other. If we're more self-oriented, we're only talking about my project or my needs or my performance, then over time, it's going to erode, erode trust. And if we reduce -- because we're only remote -- the trusting behaviors that we had in the, when we got to see each other, but now, because we don't get to see each other, if we decrease that frequency and behavior, that's going to erode trust over time.

The Role of Communication in Building Trust

Jim Collison 12:14
There's a lot of practical elements you just gave out there and a lot of great advice to be able to do that. I think one of those things, and you kind of just concluded with this; Brett mentions it in the chat room as well. He says, Two big tips that made a difference for me was thinking about this idea of just the fundamentals of communication, right: turn off self-view, so you're not staring at yourself on the camera, right, and make the video screen smaller, right. In some cases, I've actually insisted -- that's probably too strong of a word -- but I really encourage folks to turn their video on; I want to see them, and I want them to see me. I want to look them in the eye. I want to have those frequent conversations.

Jim Collison 12:55
I also, you know, there's a saying, "That email" -- no, "That meeting should have been an email." I like to turn that around and say, "That email probably should have been a meeting." Because yes, we probably could have worked out that email, we probably could have done that work based on the email. But there's no personal element to it. Right? There's no, there's no one-on-one building that trust, right, in that, of that communication. I think it's, I think it's kind of key that we spend some time looking at each other, seeing how we're responding, and then, and then work together on that. Do you think -- anything else you'd add to that?

Danny Lee 13:31
Yeah. And I think it's about that balance, too. Right? Balance, too. We have a lot of unproductive meetings, where we're like, Man, that should have, that could have been an email. So it's less about having a meeting, but having a meaningful conversation, having a meaningful meeting, having a productive meeting, where it builds on trust, instead of eroding, eroding trust. Yeah. I love what you said about turning on the video cameras, because it makes a huge difference. When we're in person, meeting someone, we wouldn't show up like -- as Dean Jones would say -- we wouldn't show up like with a bag over our heads and have a meeting. It makes a difference when you get to actually see the person and just even see their environment, their pets and kids. And, you know, it makes, it makes it human. I think one thing that's really important about this hybrid, virtual world is that it's not a computer experience; we have to make it a human experience. And the more we make it comfortable for them to interact with us, the more conversation where people are less talking to us, but talking with us.

Jim Collison 14:37
A couple good questions coming out of the chat room. One -- I read that managers want to go back to the office more than contributors. What's your, what's your thoughts on that? I don't know if we have data that specific, but some, some ideas around that?

Danny Lee 14:50
Yeah. Jim, can you elaborate that question a little bit? I don't think I understand the question.

Tapping Into Human Needs in the Hybrid Workplace

Jim Collison 14:56
Yeah, so, in other words, managers, you know, the, the remote work concept was difficult, I think most difficult for man, a lot of managers, because they lost track. They felt like they were going to lose track of those that they were, they were managing, right? Like if I can't see you, I can't manage you. We, during, during COVID, during this time, more people worked remotely. Not everybody could, by the way; there was a whole group of people -- and thank you to those workers who did, went in to do, because oftentimes they did things that, that, that helped us, right. So thank you if you continued to work in the workplace when you did that. But so there was this idea of command and control; I think that's what this question's getting to, where managers were lost a little bit -- lost, or felt like they would lose a little bit of productivity or that communication.

Jim Collison 15:45
So Danny, as we think about that, I think we've learned a lot about that maybe, that maybe isn't true. How can managers, still in this hybrid environment, how, like, how can they still continue to provide -- you gave a clue to this just a minute ago when you talked about recognition. But other things managers can do to kind of continue to create that communication and make sure they're not losing track of people?

Danny Lee 16:09
Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a great question, by the way, is, I think human needs are consistent -- pre-pandemic, during pandemic or even after, post-pandemic, the human needs are basically it's consistent. But how we meet those needs are going to be, to be different. Pre-pandemic, people wanted to be developed. That's just a general need in the workplace. And during pandemic, the same; post-pandemic, it's going to be the same. People like to be recognized. People need to have their, they like to have priorities; they like to have clarity on expectations. They like to be able to utilize their strengths in their workplaces. They like to be cared for. They want to be doing meaningful work. So those will stay quite consistent.

Danny Lee 17:01
Now, the challenge is figuring out how we can tap into those needs in a way that it's more virtual, you know, if it's a hybrid case. So before, we knew how to do that -- well, not everybody did, the reality is -- but the good managers knew how to do that, knew how to do that in person. Now, we have to figure out how to do that in a more remote case. So before, if it was a kind of like an in-person, having a lot of infrequent chats, we'll have to find ways to do that more virtually through text messaging or instant messaging or just frequent ongoing conversations we're having with video meetings. And I think one thing before, prior the virtual world was, there was a meeting. There was a 30-minute block of the meeting; there was the start of the meeting and the end of the meeting. And there was like this, we're thinking meetings in terms of these time units -- it's either a 30-minute meeting, 45-minute meeting or a 60-minute meeting.

Danny Lee 18:04
Whereas now, it's more, those time blocks are kind of going away. There's 5-minute video chats, 8-minute video chats, you know, 13 minutes. So we're having more smaller, infrequent conversations or touch points. And at the end, I think, from an employee's point of view, we want them engaged. We want them to be in a state where they feel like they're doing meaningful work, they're being productive and performing at an optimal level, and staying, staying engaged. And I think one important component to that is when an employee feels like the manager really "gets" them -- they really understood, manager really gets them -- that's a huge, I think, differentiator.

Danny Lee 18:47
So in this environment, how do we continue to show that care and specificity as a manager to keep the employee engaged? Whereas when the employee starts feeling like, "The manager doesn't really get me; manager doesn't understand," then that's where engagement starts dropping, and those -- trust starts getting eroded. At the end, the right answer is, it all depends, right? It all depends. But then we have to think about, What is the actual outcome that we are pursuing? And how do we get there more optimally? And there's going to be a lot more creativity, I think, involved that will be required to individualize and, and customize -- because as you mentioned, some got to work remotely. Some got to sort of survive, but not really thrive in the virtual working environment. So just because we have done it doesn't mean we were optimized. Some are optima -- we were really optimized, where productivity actually went up. Some productivity, the reality, went down, but because that was the only option, we basically survived.

Effective Coaching Conversations

Jim Collison 19:57
Yeah. Yeah. Megan asks a great question kind of related to that. She says, Doesn't being virtual help some introverts and those who get distracted by behaviors? You know, this played into some people's strengths, where maybe it hadn't happened before. Some can listen better by controlling their environments. And I think that really speaks to -- for some, and you just said this, for some, it got better. For others, it was worse. I think from a manager's standpoint, we need to know that. Right? And you don't know that unless you're having conversations. We know from our data, that, that what people are looking for are one weekly coaching conversation from their manager. And it doesn't have to -- when I think we think of a coaching conversation, it doesn't need to be that organized, structured coaching conversation. Danny, when, we think of some conversations that can happen weekly that are coaching-related, what did those look like? Or what kind of advice can we give on that?

Danny Lee 20:53
Yeah, so coaching -- to really, I mean, coaching means different things to different people. Sometimes coaching means like, Man, let me coach you. I'm gonna coach you right now. Like if you'll listen to me, I'm gonna coach you. So there's that coaching. But then there's the pure sense of, sense of coaching. So if we really simplify what coaching is, it's an activity where we are helping the client or helping an employee expand their thinking; it's a way to develop. And coaching is, it's different from a consulting conversation, where consulting is more, it's, consulting is more, Here's the issue; here's what you need to do. We're telling them what to do. But that actually does narrow a person's thinking possibilities, because, Here's the right answer; you got to follow the right direction. Whereas coaching is more in the long run, help the employee and the team member grow, think more creatively, and become, take more ownership in their path of development and problem, problem resolution.

Danny Lee 21:55
And coaching does not, as you mentioned, have to be a 1-hour conversation or a 30-minute conversation; coaching happens all the time. I can even, I even call it, "undercover coaching," where we can have a 5- or 6-minute, like, coffee conversation. But if I'm really listening at a higher level and asking good questions to expand their thinking, the employee, they think. They feel heard. And they get more engaged. And they, at the end of the conversation, they're actually taking more ownership in, in the issue or the topic or the project, because they are the ones who got to process out loud and think out loud, with the manager's support. So the weekly ongoing coaching conversation is highly encouraged, but it doesn't have to be formal, calendar-driven ones; it's the casual one-on-one that happens.

Jim Collison 22:52
And I mentioned this earlier, Megan says, you know, we were talking about folks who didn't go remote, right, groceries, delivery. Think about, think about all those delivery companies. These are U.S.-based, but think about those doctors, nurses, emergency responders, endless thanks. And we -- sometimes, we came up with a lot of solutions for remote, but they're still like, Can we take these, these remote ideas -- quick phone calls, quick video sessions, whatever, and apply those backwards to in person, right? That, that still applies, right? I still can just have a quick conversation, that, maybe a quick 5-minute coaching conversation that's done in person still. That's still allowed, right? That can still happen. Is that right?

Danny Lee 23:36
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So I think overall, the human needs stay quite consistent. But how we meet those needs, we just need to be a little bit more creative and be comfortable with uncomfortable, because not everybody is comfortable with video chatting or even text messaging. They're more, it's just like, when we went virtual, when I'm engaging in a coaching conversation, there's, basically there's people who are like going nuts because they can't meet people and they're stuck in their rooms. And then they, we have a group of people I'm talking when they're like, "Know what? I kind of dig this, like, I like this." I like the fact that I don't have to like do all those handshakes and meeting people in the small chats and, you know, having more focused time, you know. We talked about the introverts or -- but it's not always about the introvert versus extrovert, but even how we're wired talent-ly. Yeah.

Improving Teamwork via Three Engagement Questions

Jim Collison 24:29
I have Woo and Communication very, very high, and I had people call me the first several weeks and say, "Are you OK? Like, are you gonna be OK?" And I actually discovered through that time, I liked the more, the, the quiet. I liked the focused time. I like that ability and I kind of leaned into it. I have Relator 8 as well. And so I was able to pull some of that in to meet with people one-on-one, to do that. Danny, I love -- in the, in the next 5 minutes -- so I love the, the first three questions of our Q12 framework, to help managers with some of these conversations to individualize them. Because this is what I heard you say: Managers still have to have individual communication or individual expectation-setting with their teams.

Jim Collison 25:13
If we want to improve teamwork, managers need to spend some time getting to know their team. Q1, I know what's expected of me; Q2, I have everything I need to do the job that I'm supposed to do; and Q3, I get to do what I do best every day. How, how, as we think about those 3 questions in there, How would you help managers frame that up in a way so that everyone's voices can be heard in that? How would you use that framework? Can you talk? Give us a few minutes on that.

Danny Lee 25:42
Yeah. Yeah, I would say, I mean, you're absolutely right; those first 3 dimensions, it's also very connected to human needs too. Like, if I'm working, if there's 27 projects happening, and if the manager says, "All 27 are important; you can't drop the ball. May the force be with you!" Then, although the expectation is rationally clear, emotionally, it's very confusing. So we had that, we have that need to be able to, to focus. So one thing as managers we can do is get into even thinking about not just high level of listening, but even being empathetic. How is my message going to land in their space? How can I make it feel more simplified? How can I help them prioritize so that, Yes, we're busy. But among those, there has to be a way that we can help them prioritize so they have, they're working with a sense of clarity. And that's what we see in high- performing team versus average too.

Danny Lee 26:44
High-performing teams, busy; average team, also very busy, equally busy. But what we find different is the high-performing team, because their clarity on what's important and what's not, all of those work goes more towards the priorities. Versus the average team, there's duplications, there's, you know, balls being dropped, there's gaps, there's a lot of confusion. And a lot of times, the energy goes towards what's less important versus going to what is, what is more important. So help employees prioritize and align expectations, because we see a lot that too, where managers' expectations and team members' expectations are misaligned. Or team members' expectations are also misaligned, as well.

Danny Lee 27:34
Going to the materials and equipment, what do they need? Oftentimes, it may not necessarily be the tangible equipment; it might be insights. It might be information. It might be heads up. It might be the right partner to tackle a particular issue or lead a project -- that, those complementary partnerships. So broaden the definition of materials and equipment and resources. And through those frequent check-ins with employees and team members, make sure we are, we understand and giving each other support in a team, team setting.

Jim Collison 28:10
Can I cover No. 3?

Danny Lee 28:11
Yeah, absolutely.

Jim Collison 28:12
Getting to do what I do best every day. We've got to, you know, strengths are the key to that; that's really in our Q12, where strengths enter in. And we got a great opportunity with that. During this season, if you're listening to this live or over the next couple of weeks, we are offering, we have a special gift. If you, if you head out and you purchase 5 All 34 codes for maybe a team, it'd be perfect for a Team gift, right, managers, if you want to know the strengths and get a, get an All 34 Report -- 34% off if you use GIFT 34. So all caps, GIFT 34, as you're purchasing those, you'll get 34 -- 34% off those codes. We like that number, 34. So we thought we'd give that a try as well. If you want to do that, that'll work, I think, till December 9, 2021. So you can check that out as well.

Jim Collison 28:59
But that's -- it gives the managers, Danny, I think a great framework, right? If we want to improve teamwork, we have to understand who the people are. And I think strengths is one of those dimensions that, as manager or as a team, we kind of understand each other. We kind of understand where we're coming from and what we're doing. And certainly having CliftonStrengths as a tool to be able to do that is great. Our time is up, but I want to give you one more minute. Any other final thoughts, Danny, as we wrap our time?

Danny Lee 29:27
Yeah. I'll just, just enhance what you just said. A great team is like the Avengers. They're, they're not, everybody's not like Incredible Hulk. They're all very, very different. And we can see, when we don't understand those differences, those supers just fighting against each other. But when we understand how people bring different talents and skill sets and knowledge and strengths to the team, then we can build a better way of collaborating and optimizing the team.

Jim Collison 29:56
Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of the CliftonStrengths podcast. Make sure you like and subscribe wherever you listen, so you never miss an episode. And if you're really enjoying this podcast, please leave a review. This helps us promote strengths globally.

Danny Lee's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Individualization, Empathy, Connectedness, Harmony and Developer.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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