• Jo Wassell

How to build a high-performing team

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

How to shape a high-performing team in the new, virtual office

The way we work has been spun on its head.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses of every shape and size are having to learn to do things differently. For the marketing world, this means virtual and remote working practises coming to the fore. Work is more flexible; office days are limited; teams are split; travel and face-to-face meetings happen far less, if at all; and the home really is the new office. Suddenly, marketeers are juggling childcare with strategic meetings. Team huddles are now digital faces in small squares looking out from your screen; and creatives are having to find new ways to collaborate, share and shape ideas seamlessly. Moving forwards, success depends on how your team adapts to this new way of working. And this impacts everything from your recruitment approach, to the training on offer to your employees.

Think differently to move forward in a new era of working

When recruiting, it’s tempting to look at your best employees and then try to find people just like them. But we need a new set of skills in addition to those strong traditional skills to thrive. Not to mention, fresh candidates with different backgrounds and interests can avoid creative sterility. A more diverse workforce made up of people with different perspectives and skills can supply that creative tension that’s so effective at fostering imagination and inspiring marketing teams. It also makes your team more agile when tackling unforeseen problems or taking advantage of new opportunities. But what are the skills required to build a strong team from 2020 and beyond?

Understand your team profile | Have a good look at your current team and work out where you might have skills gaps. Competency mapping or SWOT analysis can help uncover weaknesses. What sort of people make up your current team? Are there areas that are neglected? When you have this information, it’s much easier to identify the type of candidate you need, and plan for any training requirements.

Communication is key | Now people are working from home or remotely, teams are fragmented. Meaning good communication skills are more critical than ever. Keep this front of mind when seeking out new candidates, and encourage existing team members to consider whether body language is important when meetings are being scheduled and that cameras be kept on in these situations. Practise ‘active listening’ and encourage the method with your team; and keep screensharing to a minimum so eye contact and body language cues are not lost. Perhaps introduce a ‘signal’ for people who want to speak on a busy conference call so everyone gets their chance to talk. Set time limits. And try and bring consistency over what communication tools are used so there isn’t confusion or missed messages; a risk when Whatsapp, email, Teams, Trello, Slack etc. are all being used.

A for adaptability | People have no choice but to adapt, but how well they do this will be critical to their productivity and your team’s success. When recruiting, look for people who can demonstrate they are real self-starters; can stay positive and productive working alone; and who will be flexible as and when it’s time to return to the office. Consider these areas when you speak to references. And if you use personality profiling, such as Myers-Briggs testing, then the outcome of this could be helpful in highlighting those candidates who may be better able to adapt, and those who may need support. To help existing employees become more adaptable, encourage people who don’t usually work together – or who work very differently – to team up. Support staff in ‘unlearning’ old ways of working. And hold regular ‘What if?’ sessions to inspire fresh thinking around old working habits.

Problem-solving inspiration | If there is one thing the response to COVID-19 has shown, it really is that businesses can react positively to any situation. Just look at the transformations in business model that have taken place across the retail, leisure and grocery sectors. The marketing function can not only survive – it can thrive. This new era brings with it a huge opportunity, it just takes a fresh approach and new way of thinking. Look to candidates who understand the intricacies of supply chains and taking traditional business online, and what it means for brands. Consider educating existing team members on these areas to help inspire their thinking for the evolving times ahead.

How we can help

Invoke exists to help B2B marketing teams excel, through recruitment, coaching and training programmes. We can use our first-hand experience to advise you on your recruitment, training and executive coaching needs to create confident, fulfilled individuals who breed success.

If you’d like help building your marketing dream team, please get in touch.