Not working in the same physical space as your colleagues can be challenging. When you aren’t with them, it’s sometimes harder to gauge their thoughts and feelings by observing physical cues. You can’t watch their interactions with others or observe their body language. You can’t feel if their knees are shaking under the table when you meet with your boss. And it’s harder to randomly notice that they light up when asked to help with a specific task. You may feel you need a sharpened Spidey sense to understand their communications, intentions, and personalities.
But how do you develop this sense? How do you adjust to a new way of working together separately?
The long answer is – adopt an intentional new method of communicating, understanding, and collaborating that fosters connections and lessens misunderstandings. The short answer is – find a new common language. In a remote environment, intent can become muddled, and misunderstandings can arise if you’re not careful. While this may sound daunting, there are established methods you can use. One of the best is CliftonStrengths. When guided by a trained coach, your team can learn how to communicate better and operate more efficiently and effectively.
While there are many such assessments available in the marketplace, we believe that building on individuals’ strengths, rather than focusing on weaknesses, yields positive results faster. One of the best assessments offering a focus on strengths is CliftonStrengths. It is a more positive and forward-thinking approach than other tools.
Gallup developed the CliftonStrengths assessment tool to measure a person’s innate talents—their “natural patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.” The tool categorizes talents into four leadership strength domains – Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, Strategic Thinking – and 34 CliftonStrengths themes. For example, the Strategic Thinking domain includes the Analytical, Futuristic, Ideation, and Learner. Examples of themes in the other domains include:
- Influencing: Activator, Command, Communication, Competition
- Relationship Building: Adaptability, Connectedness, Developer, Empathy
- Executing: Achiever, Arranger, Belief, Consistency
When you combine the CliftonStrengths assessment with coaching sessions, managers learn how to use their individual strengths and their employees’ strengths to create effective teams. Teammates understand how to better work with and appreciate each other.
Ways CliftonStrengths enhances the effectiveness of hybrid and remote teams
- Common language and understanding. The 34 strengths provide a common language and understanding for teams, giving them a framework for better communicating and working together.
- For example, during a brainstorming session, an Activator unintentionally shuts down the ideation flow by outlining an implementation plan for an idea. The Zoom goes quiet. Tension rises while you figure out a way to cut him off without shutting him down completely.
- However, when everyone understands their colleagues’ natural inclinations and true intentions—as they would after CliftonStrengths assessments and coaching sessions—you can acknowledge his Activator tendencies, redirect him, and move forward as a team united again in purpose. CliftonStrengths helps everyone understand how their managers, direct reports, and colleagues work—why they behave the way they do. Understanding someone’s true intentions builds trust within the team, but without CliftonStrengths, those intentions might not be obvious.
- Shortcut to a deeper understanding. CliftonStrengths paints a picture of someone from the inside out. It facilitates social connections within or across teams because employees can get to know each other more quickly. If you know a new colleague is a Learner, you can break the ice and set a positive tone for your relationship by sending them an article on a topic of mutual interest.
- Manager/direct report relationships. CliftonStrengths helps managers understand how to best communicate with and motivate employees. For example, after hiring someone remotely, you sense a disconnect with them—one you don’t see them having with anyone else. Checking their CliftonStrengths profile, you realize it’s not personal; you just both relate to people differently. Once you adjust your expectations and communication style, the relationship changes for the better.
- Vocational wellness. CliftonStrengths helps managers know what to look for and nurture in new or longtime direct reports. In our brainstorming example, the manager recognized the Activator’s tendencies and talents and suggested how he could tap into that strength after the brainstorming session.
- Employees (and managers) feel a sense of fulfillment when they’re allowed to play to their strengths. This intrinsic motivation is likely to keep them more engaged in their work than any other perk will.
- Wholly human. People love having a remote work option because it allows them to be more human. They can live their whole life at once and not sacrifice the personal for the professional, or vice versa. CliftonStrengths helps teams see each other as more fully human. They understand each other’s most human qualities—their natural aptitudes and talents—and can tap into both their ‘me’ strengths and ‘we’ strengths.
Coaching facilitates collaboration
We look at strengths through a remote and hybrid work lens and offer certified CiftonStrengths coaching to clients. Through individual and team coaching sessions, staff can better understand their strengths, and learn how to leverage those strengths in the workplace to perform their best and feel most fulfilled.
Coaching sessions help managers understand how to tap into their own and their employees’ strengths. They find out how to provide the support needed to unlock their employees’ natural talents and align their strengths with fulfilling career pathways. Coaches help managers choose the most effective communication and collaboration practices for their teams. Managers and teams become stronger thanks to their mutual understanding of individual strengths.