In times of discouraging global circumstances and increased remote work, finding ways to engage employees is more important than ever. What is one of the best ways to improve engagement? Belonging to a team.

Employers generally focus on developing individuals or workplace culture when attempting to improve employee engagement. However, as being a part of a team is one of the strongest identifiers of employee engagement, research shows that developing teams is one of the most effective ways to increase engagement. One of the most interesting pieces recently written and published in an HBR article by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall is called ‘The Power of Hidden Teams’ explores Hidden Teams, the pivotal role of the Team Leader and how their engagement impacts your business.

The next step to improving company engagement is to find valuable teams within your company. However, this process might not be a straightforward task, as many effective teams are organic. As a result, it’s necessary to find “hidden teams” in your company. Read on to learn how!

Beyond the Organizational Chart

How do you identify teams so that you can help encourage and improve them? The automatic answer for many is to simply look to a company’s organizational charts. Unfortunately, finding teams might not be that simple.

It’s easy enough to see which teams should be working together from an organizational chart. However, the teams that are actually working together may not be as simple or obvious as this structure. Further, there may be cross-department collaboration. As a result, it’s necessary to find teams that are actually working together — the “hidden teams.”

Finding Hidden Teams

Finding cross-departmental and leadership-level teams can be a challenge. However, this step is key as it is necessary to find active, organic teams in order to improve engagement.

Fortunately, current technology is a key component of facilitating teamwork and can provide valuable information as to which people in your business are working together. For example, it’s easy to find teams working together on projects in apps/software, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Now that you’ve found your hidden teams, it’s time to encourage and develop them.

Developing Hidden Teams

While nearly every organization has hidden teams, not all of these teams are created equally. The following are elements of effective hidden teams:

  • Trust. Teams are eight times more likely to be engaged if they trust their leader. A key component of this trust is that the team leader understands the team members’ strengths and can use them in a way the member feels valued and productive.
  • Attention. Giving members personal attention, assessing and addressing their needs, is necessary for the best engagement. However, this check-in role must be from an actual person who has the capacity to address the team members’ needs. As this personal attention requires effort, teams should be intentionally designed with this function.
  • Learning. Employees often receive continuing education in areas such as project management or emotional intelligence. However, team skills can be learned, as well. Team-based education (often learned in teams) can have a large impact on the success of helping hidden teams in your organization thrive.
  • Experience vs. location. The idea behind open concept offices is that people are more likely to “run into each other” and, thus, engage with each other more. However, the opposite effect has been the result. Although remote work can seem like it can be less engaging, remote workers are actually more engaged than their non-remote peers. 
  • Gig-like work. The reason remote and gig workers are more engaged is that they feel like they have more control over their work, and they can engage in projects they are passionate about. Allowing your employees to approach their projects in this way will allow them to be on teams of projects they are interested in and intrinsically be more engaged — and productive.

Once teams are identified and developed, they can be a great asset to your business.

Leveraging Hidden Teams

Hidden teams are key to engagement and productivity in your company. Once you have identified hidden teams, you can develop them and teach employees how to work better together in their current and future teams. As a result, you can help your company and talent in the long run.

Would you like help developing and leveraging your teams? Contact Boston Business Growth. During this time when engagement and productivity are most threatened, I can help you develop high performing, healthy teams.