Helping to Build High Performing Teams in a Poly-Working World


By Jane Sparrow

The word on the lips of so many leaders we’re talking to right now is TEAM. In some cases people feel that the COVID experience has resulted in teams that are, in some ways, stronger than they were before due to closer connections, a level playing field and shared vulnerability. 

But, in other situations, we’ve heard of teams that have struggled to keep connected, have lots of new joiners and/or are just feeling ‘flat’. Building and maintaining bonds in the long-term chronic situation that we’ve been in hasn’t been easy. Whether virtually or in person, reconnecting and re-energising teams as we move forward into a Poly-Working world will be paramount. 

Delivering transformational team experiences

We’ve been enjoying supporting more and more teams as they come together to reconnect, realign and re-emerge and have lots of this in the diary to come. Today, as you read, The Culture Builders team is at Dorney Lake in the UK with the ViacomCBS Leadership Team, delivering a (COVID-safe) day of reflection, collaboration and team connection. 

As well as time together in a beautiful setting to share and explore, with the help of our faculty member and double Olympic gold medallist, Steve Williams OBE, the team will also ‘stress-test’ the ideas and approaches they’ve explored whilst rowing on the UK Olympic lake in Dorney. It often gets described as a transformational and life changing collective experience so we’re incredibly excited for the team with us today. For them, the reconnection will be critical in strengthening the bonds of cohesion that will ensure they face 2021 together as a united group and have a clear direction to ‘row’ as things change and re-settle.

Dynamic and experiential virtual sessions too 

With more and more requests coming through for in person team experiences, we are really feeling the green shoots of progress arriving. Whilst some aspects will remain virtual beyond the pandemic, some of the great benefits of face-to-face, including building trust, relationships, focus and alignment (faster!) are undeniable.     

Despite a COVID safe delivery, of course, for some it’s not what they feel comfortable with yet or it’s not something they’re able to do (including our longstanding global team clients). It’s important to acknowledge and properly respond to this – it’s one of the many, many critical factors that factor in the poly working world. Therefore, we’re continuing to deliver a high number of dynamic, interactive virtual team sessions too.

Team experiences that think different, think smart

Whilst many teams are grabbing the opportunity to come back together, they are definitely thinking differently about how they do it. We’re supporting organisations with plentiful plans around gradual transitions including re-familiarisation days, ‘in-day’ onboarding and experiential team lunches as the first interaction just to ease people in. 

We’re also supporting teams to deliver a range of brilliant virtual experiences with a fresh approach. Some of our favourite recent examples include a colour themed treasure hunt with a major software development company and a ‘locked room’ activity with a Scottish housing association.

Helping teams to understand their DNA

We’ve done a lot of work with teams on personality and personal styles during the pandemic and this continues in the team connection conversations and sessions we are running. Today at Dorney, the team will enjoy an experiential personality profiling session to enable them to understand each other more deeply, their team dynamic and what they each bring. 

We know that the highest performing teams have the highest levels of insight about each other including communication, decision making and learning preferences but also where they’re likely to go under pressure. This deep sense of knowing activates a deep sense of trust, an aspect that will become even more important in a Poly-Working world. 

Teams who own it together will be the teams who thrive

Teams need to own the task of creating sustainable ways of working, with the recognition that, more than ever, each one will need a unique approach that mixes personal circumstances/preferences with the need to deliver on requirements and do it in a way that keeps everyone thriving and creates inclusiveness. 

The only place to start on TEAM is with the team. We’re helping many, many teams right now to come together, be together and shape their future in a way that they can all commit to, a shared language they can all adopt, a common philosophy that promotes principles they all agree on. 

How will YOUR team reconnect, realign and re-emerge? We’d love to help.