One of the lessons the pandemic taught us was how to be resilient and face challenges from a new perspective. Even in situations that we could have handled proactively before, such as investing efforts in people engagement, they are now cushioned from the impact caused by the lockdown in teams and companies.
There are some crucial aspects to consider when taking care of people engagement, which shouldn't be limited to the occasional team-building activities. To successfully engage new or former members in your team, every person requires a friend, a clear responsibility, professional growth, continuous feedback, along with the usual periodic team building activities.
1. Find a Friend and a Mentor
Every team member needs someone to trust, to ask for help, especially when they are new to a team. Can you remember your first day on a job? Do you remember having a feeling of not belonging to that place? A place where everyone seemed to know each other, what to do, and exactly how to do it, leaving you feeling lost. This is why having an ally is crucial. A team lead should naturally be the friend and mentor needed to create a strong relationship with every team member while identifying the right team member to assign to 'the new guy' to feel comfortable during their first days. It doesn't mean to babysit, but to be a person who can answer questions and provide additional guidance. In the best-case scenario, that assignment ends in the friendship it's intended to create. Finally, and most importantly, the goal is to promote an environment of solid communication, a safe place to ask questions, to ask for help. An environment where every voice is valued and heard, and everyone can trust each other.
2. Have a Clear Responsibility
Feeling that you are contributing to something bigger than yourself expands your perspective, gives you purpose and a sense of belonging. Hence the need for everyone to have opportunities to serve in the team and/or the company. Some of those opportunities are available and created by the company, such as social programs, technical groups, leadership roles, etc. Others are specific to each team, from production incident to release champion (the latter focused on IT teams). On other occasions, you will need to create small responsibilities that promote active participation and accountability. Some members will be proactive and take those roles; however, others will require an invitation to serve. Identify the strengths of your team members, look for the best opportunities with which you can provide them, and ask them whether they feel comfortable accepting the assignments.
3. Encourage Professional Growth
Helping your team grow professionally, both in hard and soft skills will provide them with a sense of value and improvement. Helping them develop their technical skills will let them feel that they have all the necessary tools to face the challenges ahead. They will take ownership of their projects. This also requires helping them learn new technologies so that they can maximize their opportunities and self-confidence. Helping them improve their soft skills will enhance communication, organization, coordination, attitude, etc., which will promote a healthy environment surrounded by synergy. Each member doing their best will ultimately make the team proud of itself. Improving their skills will prepare them to look for promotions, leadership opportunities, or salary adjustments.
4. Gather Continuous Feedback
Providing continuous feedback to someone open to receiving it will allow them to adjust their actions. Whether you are a new or old team member, there is a time during which questions like, "Am I doing well?" or "Is there anything I need to improve?" come to your mind. Everyone needs to receive feedback. If it is positive, this is the time to congratulate your teammate and provide a sincere compliment to continue doing what they are doing so well. It is an opportunity to help them grow, reach their potential, and contribute more efficiently to the team if it is negative. Not only for the assigned task but also help to create a great work environment. Do not limit yourself just to providing feedback in formal and scheduled situations. Do it constantly. During retrospective meetings, at the end of a project: do it as soon as you can.
5. Engage in Team-Building Activities
Successfully engaging your team should not be limited only to the daily job interaction. Team building activities are great opportunities to connect. Sometimes those activities such as having lunch together, gaming nights, Netflix parties, trivia gatherings, etc., or organized time and collaboration will provide a space where the team can interact, have fun, and enjoy each other. Do it constantly, involve other team members to organize it, and actively participate. Be creative and plan activities that everyone can enjoy according to their different personalities. These activities are an excellent opportunity to get ideas and ask for help for the next activity. Those don't have a very elaborate plan that requires a budget. Most of them can be simple but will have a significant impact on building synergy in your team.
Building strong cohesion and people engagement in the team is a process that requires a new mindset and everyone' pulling their weight. That can be developed if you have friends you can go to when having professional or personal issues, contributing to something bigger than you, and serving others when you are proud of your team because of the skills developed. They of you, when you're constantly receiving feedback, appreciated when doing great, and receiving recommendations on how to correct your direction. When out of a job, activities are constantly facilitated. The synergy, unity, and commitment that were once goals are now a reality.
Ready to augment your team with quality assurance delivery professionals?
I have enjoyed my time with Unosquare and encourage anyone interested in staff augmentation services to reach out to us via our website contact form. Unosquare has world class customer service that supports business continuity and we can find support for your teams quickly and efficiently. Here at Unosquare, we have over 2,000 successfully completed projects, over 750 engineers, and more than 120 distributed teams. We know what it takes to meet and exceed project needs. Want to learn more about what Unosquare can do for your company? Check out our blog here.