A connected team is a powerful driving force any business can have with a little work and some resourcefulness.
A lot of understanding of how coworkers connect with each other is needed.
Also, managers should lead by example and help their employees form connections that last.
Here’s a summary on team connectivity, covering:
- What team connectivity is,
- What the main benefits of connected teams are,
- How human and social capital play into connectivity, and
- Practical advice, tips, and tricks on how to foster team connectivity.
What is team connectivity?
In business, the term team connectivity stands for team members:
- Being in sync,
- Having the appropriate communication channels and knowledge bases,
- Being open-minded and open to feedback, and
- Communicating openly.
Well-connected teams can be the key to success. Yet, fostering team connectivity can mean different things, and it must be an ongoing process.
Here are some good practice examples:
- Establishing an inclusive company culture,
- Encouraging informal meetings,
- Giving employees a voice,
- Responding to employees’ feedback,
- Organizing informal gatherings, team-building activities, etc.
While establishing the right communication channels is essential, most employees need help from their managers to maintain a connection with the team.
How the modern workplace is a network of teams
The traditional way of work and hierarchical business models are being deconstructed, mostly due to:
- Digital and innovative solutions, and
- The rise of remote and distributed teams.
In an article for Forbes magazine, Josh Bersin wrote about the “networks of teams”.
He explained the phenomenon was born from the digital workplace and provided an example.
The networks of teams + an example
Bersin gives the example of Uber — in each city, the company has Uber managers who form networks.
They operate independently, but regularly communicate and exchange information, similarly to IT companies — each department is equally important.
The skyrocketing rate of other industries embracing the trend indicates there are many advantages to a non-hierarchical structure.
The trend is here to stay, which brings us to the formation of networks of teams, connected in a way to:
- Be more productive and efficient, and
- Develop their careers.
To achieve this goal, it’s vital to build a work environment tailored to encourage honesty — not only with peers but also superiors.
The benefits of team connectivity in the workplace
Here’s how good connections elevate those connected and the company they work for.
Benefits of team connectivity for the company
Here are the benefits of team connectivity for the company:
- More streamlined communication,
- Faster, more creative problem-solving,
- Improved team coordination,
- Less wasted time,
- Increased overall job satisfaction, and
- Fewer turnovers.
Benefits of team connectivity for employees
Here are the benefits of team connectivity for the employees — connected employees:
- Gain new skills,
- Improve communication skills,
- Achieve greater job satisfaction,
- Have a better chance at career advancement,
- Are less likely to burn out, and
- Are more likely to develop new friendships outside of work.
What makes a good team connection?
The connection between two employees or teams has potential if it checks off these 3 boxes:
- It benefits the parties involved.
- It helps the managers streamline and coordinate.
- It brings value to the company.
What makes connected teams work? And what makes them fail?
To connect your teams in a valuable way, understand the importance of human capital and social capital.
Human capital is the economic value an employee brings to the table with their skills, knowledge, and education, while social capital is the value brought on by connected employees.
The benefits of when social and human capital work together
Human and social capital are the two pillars of team connectivity, as organizational network expert, Valdis E. Krebs, explains in his paper:
- For project managers, social capital is integral in improving their effectiveness and solving problems more easily.
- For teams, being directly or indirectly connected with different project teams provides an opportunity to transfer knowledge, adopt new skills, and reach information faster.
Why interdepartmental connections are usually weak
Krebs adds that, in most cases, organizations have very poor networks.
As people begin to work on projects, they form strong connections mostly to their own teammates.
Connections to other project teams are significantly weaker — if existing at all. Consequently, teams are unaware of how much help and resources are at their fingertips.
That doesn’t mean that every team member should be familiar with every other member of a different team.
Why the quality of team connections is more important than the quantity
Krebs adds that there is no reason to force strong connections between everyone, as a fewer number of direct connections and some indirect connections are easier to handle.
Fewer, quality direct connections and several indirect ones lead to more efficient networks.
You should endorse collaboration and connect employees whose skill sets complement one another.
How to make employees feel connected?
So, how do you help make employees feel connected?
Introduce changes, as no step is too small when it comes to creating functional networks.
Below are our lists of dos and don’ts that will come in handy.
The DOs of fostering team member connections
Here are 13 good practice examples of fostering team member connections.
DO work off of existing connections
Find out who works with whom already or which social groups they belong to. You can use Krebs and his associates’ survey to reveal pre-existing connections.
DO analyze your current organization for weak spots or missing links
Use the employee survey to find out how your teams’ interconnectedness can be improved.
DO revise, reanalyze, and readapt the network
Follow the connections closely as time goes by and conduct peer reviews. Practice makes everything perfect, and leaders should embrace change whenever possible.
DO emphasize the importance of transparency
Employees should be aware of what is happening company-wide, so set up a system they can check what other teams are working on.
For example — a Clockify office team timesheet.
DO streamline the communication channels
Provide your employees with all the possible communication channels they need.
DO try to eliminate, or at least reduce insecurity
Individuals who know how their skills contribute to the team and company feel more secure and confident and form good connections more easily.
DO reward efforts to share skills and knowledge
To support employees connecting with each other, recognize and reward good practices — such as efforts to share skills and knowledge, both individually and publicly.
DO be mindful when you’re switching employees between teams
When you decide to transfer someone from one team to another, look at how it could affect the entire network.
DO promote healthy ways to manage emotions at work
Promote a company culture that encourages expressing emotion, so employees can learn to manage emotions at work.
DO work with HR on improving connectivity and networking
The HR department and managers should work side by side at all times to help everyone integrate.
Later on, regular checkups with HR help prevent employee burnout and its negative effects.
DO implement a buddy system
Having a dedicated “work buddy” creates a great onboarding experience and a support system for new employees.
DO organize regular social events
A well-connected workplace should function as a community. Regular social interactions are always a good idea, even for remote teams.
DO embrace a growth mindset as a leader
The golden rule is — leaders must:
- Have a growth mindset,
- Avoid micromanagement, and
- Embrace change.
The DON’Ts of fostering team connections
Below are 6 bad practice examples of fostering team connections.
DON’T connect too many teams
Too many direct connections cause an overflow of information.
DON’T force people to work together
Connections need to come as naturally as possible, as they depend on the chemistry between employees.
DON’T lose focus of the individual benefits
Connect your employees in a way that the collaboration benefits their personal growth as well.
DON’T rely solely on knowledge bases
Remember that knowledge bases can go out of date, be poorly edited, and even neglected — so it’s vital to invest in interconnectivity and fluidity of information-sharing.
DON’T focus only on top performers
Keep your focus on the entirety of the network to avoid causing insecurities in some team members.
DON’T gatekeep any information
Good connectivity is based on building trust among team members, so all information must be accessible.
This is just a summary of an article previously published on the Clockify blog.
To learn more about team connectivity, we recommend reading the full article: