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Each year, as we look forward to new beginnings, it's essential to make room to reflect. While it’s tempting to run full force into the next big project or next resolution that will make us - to borrow from Daft Punk - harder, better, faster, stronger, we owe it to ourselves and our teams to take a beat and genuinely self-reflect. Besides, we aren't machines, and what really enhances growth is learning from the past.

We understand this year brought hardships and grief to many worldwide. We want to honor those lost and those whose lives were negatively impacted through the struggles, large and small, this year. While we have also been affected in many ways, we would like to take a moment to celebrate the strength, resilience, and ingenuity we've all shown as well. So, today we reflect on the highlights, success stories, and lessons in the hopes that you too can reflect on the positive moments of the past year.

While many of us aren't big on bragging, we want to show you how company culture really makes a difference. At Omnia, we use our assessments to develop and maintain a reliable team. With a solid team, you can get through almost anything. And in this, our 35th year of business, we did just that. 

We'll kick it off with Jennifer Lucas because she put it so perfectly.

"Like everyone in the world, we had to rearrange everything about the business in no time. Our team made some major adjustments, and though we were scared about the future, we all worked together and took it in stride. With so much uncertainty in the world, it was such a relief to know I still had a job, and I could still make meaningful contributions to it. It made me grateful for, and proud of, my team and company.

We Rearranged and Re-invented Everything! 

"We have re-invented so many processes at Omnia this year. While we turn 35 years old, that doesn't mean you have to grow old and continue to do the same things, in the same ways. We have made huge strides in utilizing Salesforce to a fuller potential, established marketing and sales processes to continually keep the pipelines full, and created an online reference and "playbook" system. Processes and procedures are documented and can be followed by all. All this serves to allow Omnia to better serve its employees, which, in turn, allows our clients to be better served. Omnia in 2020 is not the same Omnia as in 1985! It is even more agile and client-centric than ever." – Steve Rorrer 

We Took Advantage of the "Gift of Time" 

"Starting a new job is always a challenge – so taking on a Sales, Marketing, and Client Service executive role one month before the world literally shut down was a bit freaky!  In hindsight, though – I believe the downtime allowed me to take more time to get ramped up even more thoroughly.  It was a gift!  

We used the downtime to build great playbooks for our team.  We updated key client service processes and documented them to aim for a better customer experience, not to mention a better way to onboard new associates. 

On a personal note, I'm very grateful for the gift of time I got to spend with my daughters and husband. My husband and I travel quite frequently, so being home together every day was a blessing – and yes, sometimes a challenge as we got used to the new routines and all that togetherness.  The flexibility of online learning gave us more opportunities to see our daughters with extended visits at home.  I never imagined I would have seen my college freshman or senior so much this year, or that we as a family would get so much time together." - Keather Snyder

We Strengthened Relationships  

"One of the best things about 2020 for me was getting to know our clients better. "I hope you are doing well," took on a whole new meaning. I got familiar with some of our clients' dogs because they were trying their best to contribute to the conversation! Their babies and kids, too. Many of us were suddenly dealing with everyone being at home for school and work, and I looked for ways to make it as easy as possible on our clients. And there was shopping! I virtually assisted one small business owner while he hit up the Best Buy for all his employees' telecommuting equipment. If there was one thing we learned in 2020, it was that work doesn't just happen in the office." – Cynthia Brooks. 

"Even though I truly missed all the travel and face-to-face client meetings, I think I actually participated in more conferences than in any year prior. There were a wealth of interactive, engaging conferences – and doing so virtually gave me the time and cost savings to attend more. Through these experiences, I also grew my network exponentially – this was actually a blessing of 2020 as a new associate to Omnia." - Keather Snyder

We Expanded Target Reports and Added Clients! 

"We're on the verge of debuting new targets geared toward employees who work remotely, which is really cool. Also, I think bringing on 200+ new customers during a global pandemic is fantastic. 😊 Plus, Omnia has hired some STELLAR people this year!" – Alaina Sims

We Stayed Together and Expanded Our Team 

"We stayed together! Our Omnia Team never had layoffs, and everyone pivoted to work from home. We have now grown our team adding two new associates in Texas." - Keather Snyder 

We Tackled New Projects 

"Remote work got me motivated to finally turn my son's room, he's out of the house now, into a proper home office. It was a project that I should have done a couple years ago, but quarantine and working from home gave me the need to create a more productive workspace along with the time to get it done." – Wendy Sheaffer

We Learned About Ourselves 

"I learned that I can work from home. (Like the rest of the world). This sounds like a basic task, but for somebody who was "always on the go" and drove 3 counties frequently, this was very different. The best thing is that I learned a lot about myself and feel that I am much more efficient with my job. I also think that I am a better teammate and can assist more when needed. I have learned that if we all try our best and work together, it seems to always work out." – Jamie Morlock

We Took Advantage of Opportunities and Tried New Things 

"Although 2020 has had lots of challenges for people worldwide, I've been able to make the most of the challenges that came my way. I got furloughed from a job that I had outgrown and should have left a while ago. Thanks to the government's stimulus package and the banks' programs to defer house and car payments, I was OK financially through the summer.  As a result, I had the summer off with my kids for the first time since they were little. I enjoyed spending time at home and did lots of organizing, cleaning, and decorating. 

I fulfilled a long-held dream to run for public office.  Due to the pandemic, the election got moved to coincide with the presidential election.  I put up signs, gave speeches, and campaigned via social media.  I won the election against a 10-year incumbent and started my two-year term on City Council in December. 

Best of all, though I got laid off in September, I interviewed and got hired at Omnia in October. I've been having a great time meeting everyone and learning lots about our products and services.  I can't wait to see what 2021 brings!" – Linda Salazar 

And Finally, We Made Plans for the Future 

We're celebrating 35 years as a business. Like Steve mentioned, this year isn't anything like 1985 when we started. It's also like no other year in Omnia's, or the world's, history. We have been resilient through the changes, and it's made us stronger, as people and as a company. The updates, playbooks, processes, and deepened relationships are only the beginning. Omnia has been an excellent company to work for and work with for decades. Now we're ready to take it to the next level. As always, we remain people-first and customer-focused. We hope you join us on this next adventure.  

The end of the year is always a bit stressful. We are confronted with the pressure of finishing the business year strong while planning for a new, and even more successful, year. All this while juggling the season’s activities from mailing cards and buying presents to attending holiday events, working out who’s hosting family dinners and organizing the white elephant exchange. Wait, this year we might have to decide if we are doing any of those things. We’re certainly still experiencing increasing uncertainties. What will 2021 bring, where are we going for the holidays, and will my business be impacted by any more shut downs? All this weighs heavily on a leader, and yet much of the stress is often pushed aside while we endeavor to keep a stiff upper lip to appear positive and optimistic for the people we lead.

Much has been written about the importance of employee engagement and boosting morale. Most of the responsibility for engaging employees falls squarely on the shoulders of the direct manager. Managers and supervisors set the tone and the climate of the team – by keeping employees informed about what's going on in the business, setting priorities, and providing on-going feedback and recognition. But what happens when you, as a manager, start burning out?

Let's look at the history of employee engagement for a moment. Since 2000, Gallup has been tracking employee engagement. The metric has been relatively steady, without sharp ups and downs, until this year. The upset and uncertainty around the on-going pandemic and related restrictions, mounting political tensions, and social unrest created a perfect storm of uncertainty and fluctuating employee engagement levels. As of October 2020, the good news is that employee engagement has returned to pre-COVID levels for all groups except managers. Manager engagement has continued to decline. Why is this a critical point?

This is concerning for several reasons. Currently, 41% of employees strongly agree that their manager keeps them informed about what's going on in the organization. That's great, for now. However, managers are reporting higher levels of stress and burnout than the people they manage. High levels of stress lead to reduced engagement, a drop in productivity, and burnout. This stress, in turn, can affect approximately 70% of the variance in team engagement. In short, we're overstressed and on the verge of burnout, so it's only a matter of time before that impacts the entire team.

So, what do we do about it? As leaders, we hold the key to keeping employee engaged and productive, which means we need to make sure we are in good shape ourselves.

Give Yourself a Break

Managers – be sure to take a break! Need more encouragement? We've got it.

 In an interview with Admiral John Richardson, former chief of naval operations, discussing strategies for leaders to avoid burnout and prevent pandemic fatigue, he notes, "the stakes are really high, and when the stakes are high, many leaders naturally tend to feel they have to be there all the time, to make all the decisions. But if you can't conserve your energy, you're in trouble." Sound familiar? Of course, it does. But remember, even military admirals must take breaks!

Admiral Richardson continues, "recovery is essential to mission effectiveness. That must include both taking time off to reenergize and to have the team and structure in place so that this time off can be protected, and the mission will continue."

Throughout the challenges this year, the front-line managers have shouldered the burden of carrying out and communicating the tough decisions businesses have made to stay afloat. We've had to make difficult decisions about layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours. We've been uncovering new ways to get work done with fewer resources, staff, and funding.

Managers and our teams have moved to work remotely, making it harder to connect, communicate, and get work done collectively. We've had to look for new ways, through new technologies, to hold meetings, work on projects, track productivity, and communicate.

2020 has accelerated business innovations, technological advancement, and virtual communications to a degree we previously thought impossible. It's been possible, though the accelerated pace has landed significantly on leadership, and there may not be a protocol or structure to protect time off at this time. However, it's "mission-critical" to protect downtime for leaders and employees. The science proves it. In fact, before the pandemic, global surveys revealed: "burnout arguably is reaching epic proportions in many industrialized countries."

If your new strategies and structure haven't taken time off into account, go back and build it in.

Take a Personal Inventory

It's a great time to take an inventory of your strengths and make sure you're leveraging them. If you are a hard-charging driver who is always thinking about the next hurdle, lean on your support team to be sure you are setting realistic timelines, planning the logistics and following through on the execution. Nothing will burn you or your team out faster than setting new goals when yesterday’s goals are still in progress.  

The Omnia Assessment is a fast, unintimidating, unbiased, and accurate way to reveal a person's natural behavior. Understanding individuals on a team can help managers alleviate stress for everyone. While some groups have worked cohesively for years, most have not. Between average turnover rates, the population aging into retirement, and the shift to remote communications, it can be challenging to understand everything about your team.

The Omnia Assessment breaks this down into easy-to-read, easy-to-interpret graphs focusing on four behaviors: assertiveness, communication style, pace, and structure. For example, if you know who's fast paced and big-picture focused, you can pair them with someone more cautious and systematic to ensure tasks are completed but also proofed for accuracy. Understanding people's natural abilities can take years; with The Omnia Assessment, it takes less than 10 minutes.

Learn from Others

Let's go to back to stress and burnout. How can we protect managers and, by extension, all employees? Here are a few strategies other companies have employed:

Leaders need to conserve energy and take care of themselves. Review the five strategies above; the first bullet is on us. Set and enforce work boundaries, including taking time off. Then, lead by example. Our mental health and well-being are our responsibilities. Snap out of the martyr mindset. We aren't helping our teams by exhausting ourselves, and we aren't earning badges for the number of hours worked. It's time to reevaluate how we approach work. It's time to replace "busy" with productive and healthy, and 2020 may have given us all the opportunity to make that shift a reality.

A multitude of unforeseen changes have occurred in the last 6-8 months, many that are here to stay. One adjustment is the move from a physical office environment to virtual teams. Even with some workplaces reopening, it's clear that virtual teams are here for the long term.

As leaders and employees continue adjusting to this evolving reality, there are ways to work more effectively and gain a momentum people can live with. We may not be in the same room for a while, but if we can find our footing, we can still stay together on the journey.

In previous articles and webinars, we've discussed why leadership is essential in a crisis, what employees, clients, and stakeholders need from leaders, and how to use emotional traits and behavioral tendencies to your advantage. As we continue to manage through crises, other strategies, such as best practices for virtual mentoring, utilizing behavioral assessments, and motivating teams from a distance will help you keep things contained and on track.

Effective leadership creates the infrastructure to help people participate efficiently. Leadership is about harnessing vision, balancing responsibilities, and creating a framework that clarifies how to reach set goals. Effective, and yes courageous, leadership is about creating processes that improve people's understanding of changing circumstances and enhance their ability to swim with the tide.

For over 35 years, Omnia’s vision centers on maximizing people-performance through the power of insight. We understand people power businesses, and through The Omnia Behavioral Assessment, we identify the strengths, challenges, and motivations of the people who make up your companies.

Right now, it's essential to identify who is comfortable with rapid change and who may need more steady guidance. No matter how technical you are, how long you've worked remotely, or how comfortable you are with change, you're now working with people who are new to things like remote work and virtual meeting platforms. We know that changing work routines to accommodate innovative technology and norms is challenging at the best of times. Leaders (of organizations, teams, and projects) have to get everyone rowing in the same direction.

"Now is the time, as you reimagine the post-pandemic organization, to pay careful attention to the effect of your choices on organizational norms and culture," Andrea Alexander, Aaron De Smet, and Mihir Mysore at McKinsey remind us.

Below we've captured some of what we've learned at The Omnia Group about how leaders can make a difference to the team's sustainable success through connection, priorities, and pace.

Connection

Leadership connection is about actual, direct time with people. Connecting with your team to understand them individually and as a group will enable you to better diffuse fears, anxiety, disengagement, and pessimism when it appears.

Through every crisis and work challenge, there will be change. For example, with the move to virtual teams, we no longer have the opportunity to walk by the water cooler and engage in spontaneous business conversations. As a result, leaders need to carve out time to attend meetings regularly with other managers, direct reports and cross-functional teams.

What is regular? Is it every day, every week, once a month? Honestly, that's up to you and the people on the team. Some people will need more direct time with you, some people will need more time to quietly process on their own. Those at Omnia who worked virtually before COVID hit say they are actually seeing a lot more of us now than they were before "everything went virtual."

Recently we shared a webinar about Courageous Leadership featuring Ernest Shackleton and his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914 - 1917). During this exploration, his ship, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed before the parties could reach land. Shackleton faced a life-or-death crisis. His leadership, connection to his team, and understanding of the human condition resulted in this crisis becoming known as "an epic feat of endurance."

Shackleton insisted on the men eating the evening meal together and socializing afterward. In a virtual office, those connection points can be team meetings, lunch and learns, sales huddles or anything that makes sense in your culture.

Priorities

There is absolutely nothing more important for any business in terms of effectiveness than working on the right things at the right time. Think about what's suspended, what's changed, and what's urgent.

Our teams review priorities every day. We also have rolling 90-day meetings to discuss shifts and changes to priorities. We identify which projects should continue but at a later date and make a plan to prioritize completing those projects at a time better suited to those needs.

A leader must be clear on what the priorities are for the business so that employees can do some of that filtration themselves. How can we make sure that people know if stuff has been paused, cleared out, and then clarify what's urgent? Be clear about the things that matter most right now, and then make sure everybody has priorities.

If there isn't work for people right now, how are we addressing it? What does that look like? Some organizations are focusing on developing people through cross training, others are working on creating better internal processes, still others are using the time to document existing processes for when hiring resumes.

Pace

Pacing is the leaders' job. It's incredibly essential yet sometimes overlooked in conversations.

How fast do we go? What does that look like? Is everyone with us?

Back to Shackleton and his transcontinental march for a moment. He was in charge of a stranded 28-man team and challenged to keep them alive in the Antarctic for months. It was up to Shackleton to decide when the men would depart the relative safety of the sinking Endurance. It was up to him how long they'd huddle in makeshift camps as the ice they were on continued to drift. It was up to him to select and navigate a party in a single lifeboat on an 800-mile open-boat journey to then mount a rescue mission to save the men back at the makeshift camps, which he did, without loss of life!

What we're facing now may not be a doomed Antarctic exploration, but these are uncharted waters. It's up to leadership to determine our direction and our pace. The rest of the team (employees, clients, and stakeholders) are awaiting your call.

Being virtual can cause additional challenges. Paying attention to where people are is even more critical as there are fewer clues in the environment for people to watch and find out what pace they should work. If you're having difficulty identifying an individual's pace, The Omnia Behavioral Assessment can help. Understanding if you are working with an impatient doer or a methodical processer will help you set and manage priorities in a way that resonates with the employee.

Additionally, it's crucial to ask, "if people are behind, what's the reason for it?" Your structured, systematic employees may be feeling overwhelmed and need a more clearly delineated timeline with fixed milestones. Your fast-paced multitaskers may be trying to do too much at once and getting overextended. Each set of employees will need a different approach from you to stay on pace and meet deadlines. An Omnia assessment can provide that roadmap.

As the leader, it takes courage to roll with the punches, change course and keep everyone working towards company goals, but you can do it. Remember, stay connected, set and manage your priorities and set a pace that keeps people energized and moving forward.

In organizations, we celebrate the sales team for bringing new business to the firm. After all, a company can’t survive for long without revenue. But, on the other side of many org charts sits the isolated, often forgotten, customer service team. This department is usually regarded as a cost center, rather than a company asset.

If you’re considering customer service as a money pit, think again. According to American Express, 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether to do business with a company. Quality customer support is imperative for sales

If your company sees service as a weight, you’re likely leaving revenue on the table and alienating customers. Invesp notes that investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. In fact, in 2019 nine percent of American consumers switched companies due to poor customer service, says New Voice Media.

For best results, both sales and service need to work in tandem to provide the best-in-class experience your customers deserve. Let’s explore how to foster a winning dynamic between the two teams.

Also Popular: Managing the Dynamics Between Your Sales and Service Teams

The Significance of Customer Service

Before we dive into strategy, let’s examine the true significance of your company’s customer service department. Although the perception often is that this team exists solely to put out complaint fires and appease customers, the reality is that they do so much more. Did you know, 73% of customers fall in love with a brand and remain loyal because of friendly customer service reps, reports RightNow. 

Customer service is the front line for your business. They make or break the customer experience. Want more proof? New Voice Media also reports that the #1 reason customers switch to a new brand is that they feel unappreciated, while 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase due to poor customer experience. 

Starting to see how customer service impacts sales? If you need more convincing, consider that consumers are willing to spend 17% more on a company with outstanding customer service, reports American Express, and 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service, according to HubSpot Research. 

When the customer service team is operating at peak efficiency, they do much more than resolve issues. They foster relationships with customers. They put smiles on their faces. And they leave a favorable lasting impression of your brand in their minds. All of this equals a high customer retention rate, which means higher revenues. Bain & Company quantified this in a recent report stating that increasing customer retention rates (i.e. keeping customers happy) by just 5% can increase profits between 25% and 95%!

And, if they have the right skill set, personality, and training, your customer service team can actually bring in new business, too. They’ll nimbly move from problem solver to cross-seller or upseller, which increases customer satisfaction -- and your profits. Essentially, they’ll become an extension of your sales team.

In short, the department is absolutely vital to your company’s longevity and growth.

Why Sales and Customer Service Must Align

It’s tough for customer service to shine when they’re in conflict with the sales department. And you want them to shine, because as many as 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized experience, according to a Segment Survey. Often selling on commission, your sales team is typically concerned with one thing and one thing only: closing the deal. This revenue-oriented drive can lead them to over-promise things to your customers. And, when the company can’t deliver, customer service is left holding the bag.

Over promising and under delivering comes with a whole host of problems for your customer service department. Those issues include:

And -- the detrimental impact to your customers can’t be overstated. When your company fails to serve them as promised, they’ll rightfully become angry and distrustful. Even worse, you’re likely to lose repeat business and, according to American Express, angry American customers are likely to share their negative experiences with about 15 people. 

So, when sales and service are at odds, interdepartmental communication will be poor, job satisfaction will plummet, customer retention will worsen, and the company’s bottom line will suffer. If you can get them in sync, though, you’ll have a happy, tight-knit workforce that closes more deals and delights customers. So, how can you get the two departments on the same page?

How to Improve the Interdepartmental Dynamic

As a leader, there are four key things you need to do to improve the interdepartmental dynamic:

Let’s look at each in turn.

Align Indicators of Success

The first place to look is your scorecard and your company metrics for success. Do sales and service match up? Are they working towards the same established goals? And, more importantly, do employee behaviors align with those stated success indicators? 

For example, if customer service has a goal of responding to all inquiries within two business days, the sales team shouldn’t promise a same-day response. The two teams must act as one and present a clear and consistent message to customers. After all, they are both working towards the same ultimate goal of making the company successful.

Create a Culture of Collaboration

Your company needs to make collaboration a normal, celebrated part of doing business that gets prioritized. Ideas and data should flow freely between the two departments. And everyone in the firm, including the sales team, should adopt the mantra that customer service is a mindset, not just a department. Bottom line: the lines of communication must stay open, and the once near-adversarial relationship should become more team-oriented.

Offer Team Building Opportunities

To promote unity between the two groups, offer ample opportunities for team building. When sales and service get together in an informal but planned way, they’ll get to know each other as people and gain empathy for one another’s perspective. Sales may think twice about promising the moon to a customer just to make a sale when they know service could have to deal with customer disappointment down the line.

In addition, seeing each other perform their respective roles can be eye-opening. They’ll understand the other department’s challenges and gain respect for everything that goes into being successful in that position. Consider arranging cross-department job shadowing between sales and service at the time of hire - and on an ongoing basis to cement these new perspectives. 

And, if appropriate, consider job swapping. An extroverted customer service representative with a competitive streak might enjoy being in sales for a day or two. And a detail-oriented sales associate may benefit from taking on a temporary customer service role. Just be sure you’re not setting your employees up to fail. If their personality doesn’t lend itself to the opposite role, this strategy isn’t a good fit for them - or your unsuspecting customers.

Provide the Right Structure, Tools, and Resources

The best philosophies and attitudes don’t mean a thing if the actual company structure and business processes don’t support them. As a leader, you must provide the structure, tools, and resources your teams require to perform at their best. That could mean ensuring adequate communication systems exist (think interoffice messaging) or physically situating the departments closer together in the office to facilitate more face-to-face conversations. The key is to make collaboration as easy as possible.

How Omnia Can Help

If you want to better understand your team members and discover ways to help them function as a cohesive group, a Team Dynamic Report can help. Based on the results of our signature behavioral assessment, this report shows how likely each team member is to communicate with each other and reveals deeper insight into their individual strengths and weaknesses. The report will give you an action plan to facilitate collaboration, improve communication, and unify your team.

The report can be customized to fit your firm’s unique circumstances. Getting one is easy. Simply fill out a questionnaire and hop on a quick call with us, and we’ll do the rest!

Final Thoughts

Sales and service have long been at odds. But, the truth is -- they’re both playing for the same team! Sometimes, employees just need to be reminded of that. As a leader, you have the power and responsibility to foster a winning dynamic between the two groups. When you do, you’ll have an unstoppable, connected workforce that wows your customers and positions your company for long-term success.

Businesses are about people working in a collection of teams to deliver on your company’s promise.  Your people make up the soul of your company.  Team building unifies people, making them an unstoppable force. Companies with robust team building programs perform better and have a brighter future than those that do not. Organizations “with a soul” outperform the S&P 400 in terms of higher employee engagement and retention, better customer service, long-term profitability, and more than 8x return vs. S&P 400 10-year returns. (Josh Bersin, Simply Irresistible: Engaging the 21st Century Workforce, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, April 2014)

So, how do you create such a plan? And how do you do so when our teammates aren’t all in one physical space? Before we get into how let’s talk about why it’s important to do this.

Main Benefits of Team Building

Before we get into the components you need for a world-class, modern team building program, let’s look at what one can do for your company. If your organization gets team-building right, here’s what you can expect:

Keep in mind that by 2025 Millennials will make up an estimated 75% of the worldwide workforce (Source: Forbes). This will influence many companies’ future corporate cultures and affect communication and collaboration. When considering whether investing in a team-building program is essential, consider that 33% of employees say the ability to collaborate makes them more loyal (Source: The Economist). In comparison, 37% say “working with a great team” is their primary reason for staying with an employer (Source: Gusto).

Need more convincing? When those things are in place, you’ll:

Ready to get started on modernizing your team building program?  Let’s go.

Team Building Program Must-Haves

There are three main things that you must include in your team building program:

Together, these elements will foster a team that trusts each other, cares about one another, and works like a well-oiled machine.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these must-haves.

Activities to Bond

Extremely connected teams show a 21% increase in profitability. Staff who feel supported want to give their best and contribute to their company’s success. (Source: Gallup)

We’re all busy, but don’t discount the occasional non-work specific activities. These give your team the chance to get to know each other as people, not just colleagues. If you’re working virtually, consider a Lunch-and-Learn, a book club, or an after-work virtual Happy Hour with trivia, break out group challenges, and of course -- prizes are a must.

These activities build camaraderie. Interactive experiences create memories that build connections and give way to legendary stories shared across teams for years. These outside work experiences are also another way for people to get to know each other and see a different side of people, which helps build empathy for one another. And, as the connection deepens, trust follows. When that trust is in place, team members will rely on each other, support each other when needed, feel happier, be less likely to burnout, and achieve results.

A side benefit of these activities is how you show up as a leader for your team. They get to see a different side of you too.  Watching you struggle solving a problem or not getting out of an escape room so easily makes you appear a lot more human than you may in the weekly Sales Huddle. Also, these activities may shed light on talents among your team you haven’t discovered yet. They can expose natural strengths and tendencies that may not stand out in the daily work environment.

Opportunities to Learn

Events that let your employees blow off steam absolutely have their place. But, so do activities that help your business and your employees’ professional development. As you fill your team building program calendar, be sure to include opportunities for your team to level-up together. Team members can encourage one another, practice new skills amongst themselves, and hold each other accountable.

Learning experiences in a team environment create an opportunity to mix up groups and build collaboration across teams who may not work together daily or only communicate through email.  At The Omnia Group, we conduct a monthly learning lab with a variety of topics. We invite guest speakers from industry leaders and clients who give us great insights into their implementations. We watch videos together on topics such as building empathy and active listening. We also encourage people to get together in smaller groups to focus on joint learning that involves building their technical skills around Microsoft Office products and collaboration tools.

When you make professional development a priority, your organization’s collective knowledge pool deepens. You allow people to come together and share experiences they wouldn’t necessarily have in just a daily work atmosphere. Systems and processes will inevitably improve. And you’ll see those results in dollars and cents. You’ll also have a team that’s grateful for the investment you’ve made in them. That engagement bolsters the soul of your organization and your bottom line too.

Open Forum to Solve Problems and Innovate

Even the most well-meaning people and skilled professionals experience problems with one another from time to time. Your team building program should provide an open forum to address these issues as they arise. Common concerns that may need to be worked out include ineffective communication, broken processes, production bottlenecks, and team conflicts. These issues left unaddressed build stress, leading to low morale or, even worse -- burnout and turnover.

80% of US employees feel stressed due to ineffective company communication. (Source: Dynamic Signal) CareerBuilder sites that 61% of workers experience burnout and as many as 31% of workers admit to suffering from extreme stress. A company sharing duties, responsibilities, and openly problem-solving can distribute the workload more evenly to boost productivity while relieving stress on employees.

Create “safe” forums where teams can come together to openly communicate and share where they are experiencing breakdowns. Consider taking your teams through learning programs that cover how to give and receive feedback in ways that lessen defensiveness and create openness to hear all sides.  Although you can structure your forum in many ways, it must be a safe, cooperative place for all team members. The emphasis of your discussions should be on what’s happening -- not who may be to blame. Depending on the nature and depth of the problem, it may be worth bringing in a guest expert to facilitate a productive, relationship-oriented solution.  These kinds of sessions, when conducted productively, not only help build team collaboration but core problems get addressed, and innovations can arise. Some of the best ideas can come from these sessions -- new product ideas, process modernizations, and client delivery improvements that take your organization to a whole new level.

How Omnia Can Help

Each team member has a distinct personality. They bring different strengths, values, and worldviews to the table. Behavioral assessments unlock that valuable intel so you can craft a team building program that’s tailored specifically to your group. Your program will be enormously successful because it captures and honors the unique makeup of your team.

Businesses with effective communication are 50% more likely to have lower employee turnover, says a ClearCompany report. Our assessments and behavioral insights can strengthen your company’s communication strategy and company culture, resulting in happier employees who openly communicate, become more productive and profitable, and reduce the likelihood of turnover.

Omnia offers a signature behavioral assessment that gets you the information you need in a snap. It’s fast and simple for employees to take part in, and you’ll receive instant, easy-to-digest results. If you want even more insight, we can also supply a deeper analysis. This, by the way, is another great activity you can use to build collaboration, develop empathy, and open communication across your team.  In other words -- this is a great team-building activity and very easy to do virtually.

Final Thoughts

Strong teams are the cornerstone, the soul, of a thriving business, but they don’t happen overnight.  Your employees want to be a part of a healthy, thriving team. To get a unified group's benefits, you’ll need to create and implement a custom team building program. To give that program the best chance of being successful in today’s modern business world, you must base it on your employees' deep understanding.

97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team affects a task or project (Source: Mckinsey), so imagine what the right insights into your team could do!

Get your program started the right way from the get-go. Contact us today!

Working remotely certainly has its perks for your team members. Sometimes, doing so is a necessity. But, prolonged (or indefinite) physical separation can cause employees to feel lonely and disconnected from their work. Unfortunately, when their morale drops, so does their productivity. 

As a leader, it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s your responsibility to keep your group unified, high functioning, highly effective, and in good spirits. How do you accomplish this when team members are scattered across the country or even the globe?

Bonus read: Conflict Resolution for Teams Working Remotely

Virtual Team Building

Enter: virtual team building. Team building involves getting employees together so that they can feel connected and learn about one another. Done right, the process can result in a tight-knit group that communicates effectively and collaborates to get things done for your organization. For best results, it should be done regularly and regarded as a critical business activity. Virtual team building is taking this important practice online.

Here are four main principles to keep in mind as you design your virtual team building program:

Let’s look at each in detail.

Always Communicate

Clear, continuous communication is always necessary for your team to function at its best. However, it becomes even more critical when your employees are working alone in their homes. They can’t walk down the hall, pop their head into an office, and say, “got a minute?” That means they need to feel comfortable communicating with you and their team members in other ways.

So, how do you ensure that information and support flow as they should? Try implementing these tips:

Use Tools

When your team is virtual, in-person meetings are obviously out. That means you’ll need to find other ways to bring your team together and keep them on the same page. Fortunately, there are many tools you can use to make gatherings and collaboration a snap

For example, Asana and Trello can help your virtual team keep projects organized. Platforms like Slack facilitate conversation throughout the workday. Programs like Zoom allow your team to actually see each other through video chat and are great for presentations. Of course, there are countless other options on the market. Your team’s unique needs will determine which specific tools to implement.

Have Fun

Your employees are people outside of work that have their own interests and like to blow off steam. When you encourage them to be their true selves during business hours, you’ll boost their morale and gain their trust. When you provide opportunities for your team members to be themselves together, they’ll forge lasting bonds that translate to improved employee engagement and productivity.

Here are a few ways your team can do this virtually:

Grow Together

Your team members crave professional development opportunities, whether they’re onsite or remote. When you provide them with a chance to learn new information and skills, you increase their loyalty to your organization, strengthen your team's talent, and set them up for future success. From a team-building perspective, it’s vital to give your group time to grow together.

Here’s how you could do it virtually:

How Omnia Can Help

At Omnia, we believe that truly understanding your team members is the key to leading them effectively. Our behavioral and cognitive assessments reveal deep insight into each employee’s strengths, challenges, and work preferences. This knowledge can help you create the ideal virtual team-building program for your group. The information you’ll get is so good that you might want to encourage results sharing as a team-building exercise!

Final Thoughts

Team building is essential for having a high-producing, tight-knit employee group. But, when your team members are remote, you need to get a little creative to make it happen. With the right tools, some employee intel, a willingness to experiment, and a few online-friendly activities at hand, virtual team building is possible.

Tell us: Which virtual team-building methods work best in your organization?

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