This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.
Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organisations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. A keynote speaker at the inaugural EdVET 2017
in Melbourne in April, her Trina discusses how to become a SMART workplace.
“Best Fit” workplaces consider virtual and co-located work environments as viable places to get the job done. “Best Fit” workplaces find and build talented teams that align with the organization’s desired culture and goals. They’re SMART about how they design the organizational structure so that it “fits” the way work gets done and the way knowledge is stored.
SMART workplaces start by asking how ‘Best Fit’ their organisation is in 3 ways:
“Best Fit” Work Environment
Offices and team spaces should be resources, not status symbols or uninspiring mazes. Design business operations and workspaces to match what people need. Today’s workspace may call for more teaming spaces and drop-in work stations with fewer offices. This work environment needs to support teams being able to easily manage multiple relationships – customers, teammates, project groups, managers, task forces, and so on. Showing up for multiple team meetings by web conference is a significant “best fit” time-saver for busy contributors.
“Best Fit” Organizations
“Best fit” organizations may be wholly co-located, blend office workers with mobile workers, or be completely virtual. It depends on the purpose, business goals, stage of growth and focus. All these factors contribute to what organization design and structure is the “Best Fit”. The key to success is understanding that there is no one right way because “Best Fit” is different for every organization. When organizations assess how integrated operations need to be for people to easily contribute their best, they can adapt or redesign business practices for “Best Fit”.
“Best Fit” Teams
Team leaders want to hire team members who are a “Best Fit” for their group. When considering hiring new team member, consider these multiple factors:
- Competence and expertise – This includes the obvious professional skills, but also includes less obvious virtual collaboration competence. (See TSW blog post The Power of True Collaboration.)
- Functional representation
- Cultural fit, and
- Simple availability.
Cross-organizational teams require additional “fitting.” They need to share knowledge and “think” together across organizational boundaries. They need to develop communication that “fits” all the people represented. Develop communication agreements that enable appropriate information sharing and protect organizational boundaries, such as intellectual property and proprietary processes.
Disengaged virtual workers aren’t a ‘good fit’. And it’s not their fault.
“Best Fit” organizations need team leaders who are strong in co-located and virtual work environments. I’ve facilitated heart-sinking conversations when the team member and manager realize that the feverish work completed was in the wrong direction. Communication had broken down across the miles. Individually and collectively, virtual teams produce results when they coordinate work, negotiate competing priorities, and check in with each other regularly
If virtual team members do not have a clear sense of how their work “best fits” the team’s purpose, three unfortunate outcomes usually result:
- They disengage
- They waste effort on work misaligned with the team’s needs
- They miss performance goals or quality standards.
Strong team leaders work with their teams to develop communication habits and team agreements that “best fit” the needs of the work while easily bridging virtual distance.
Get rid of virtual distance among organizations, teams and employees. Facilitate connections among the network of teams and across geography and culture. Look for operational efficiency and continuous improvements while flexibly serving the customers. In other words, learn to be SMART about the way that you work.
At EdVET 2017 in April, Trina Hoefling will join a team of bright minds in online and technology-enhanced education including Andrew Douch, respected educational technology specialist and presenter on 21st Century learning. Presentations will include:
- Teaching tomorrow’s workforce today
- The many faces of social media: Attracting, supporting and retaining learners
- Using tech to meet rapidly changing ESOL student expectations
- Towards a Moodle quality assurance framework.
For more information and to register for this inspiring event please visit the EdVET 2017 website.