While there has been much doomsday media coverage on how the rapid advance in technology will eliminate jobs, most rational commentary arrives at the prediction that while technology may render some jobs obsolete, “Humans will still be necessary in the economy of the future, even if we can’t predict what we will be doing.”
What’s most relevant for HR leaders who are stewards of the organizations most valuable asset (it’s people), is that rapid technology advancements create a growing demand for highly skilled individuals that possess the soft skills that computers cannot replicate.
While HR is helping to recruit these “superstar” employees, cultural fit and team compatibility can’t fall by the wayside. Effective communication and collaboration are often cited as the catalyst for fast problem-solving, productivity, and innovation, but it is also paramount in building productive relationships when the team composition changes. Just like in team sports, winning is the result of star players learning to work within groups to achieve success, and helping the collective become more than the sum of its parts.
So how to HR leaders help their business leaders to recruit not just the best talent, but the stars that will help the team excel? And what happens when conflict arises based on new team dynamics?
The Washington Post recently published an article by Hui Liao that looked at the challenge of handling star performers, and noted how often managers come up short. Without the right support, these would-be stars become stressed out and churn out of the organization:
“Many managers miss or underestimate the conflict. They tell these hotshot new recruits that they’re the new stand-out, superstar employee, but then they add them onto collaborative teams and tell them to fit right in. Those mixed signals set up high performers as targets for aggression, exclusion and ridicule from other team members. And this can cause them flounder on the team without peer support and even ultimately to leave the organization.”
When teams are distributed, many turn to text-based communications for day-to-day interactions. But Liaos’ recommends that managers “anticipate conflict and pay attention to team conflict” as well as watching for signs of isolation and disengagement from top performers. These emotions – resentment, animosity, withdrawal – are nearly impossible to observe without face-to-face interactions. An intuitive, reliable video conferencing solution can visually connect a manager to his/her team and improve a work environment gone bad… or stop it from ever going bad.
Team synergy can also be improved with the creation of mentorships, as Liao suggests. And this type of coaching is another relationship that is best built and maintained with visual communication.
Embedding video collaboration into every business process helps to establish exactly what success looks like, and the steps required to get there. This can prevent employee disengagement and distrust from developing in the first place, and smooth the norming of new employees into the group. Collaboration technology can become the conduit for how the high-performer and the existing team interact and thrive. And when challenges do inevitably arise, face-to-face communication via video can be enormously helpful in overcoming them.
In a recent survey on flexible work, 91% of workers agreed that technology is a key factor in not just maintaining, but actually improving work relationships. Nearly three out of four of those surveyed said that they use collaboration technologies regularly to communicate with stakeholders based elsewhere, and 37% said they use video more than once a day to collaborate.
That’s the kind of collaborative environment that, combined with effective management, can assure high performers succeed when the team doesn’t consistently work shoulder-to-shoulder. The results can be dramatic.
A European automotive manufacturer recently saw a 300 percent improvement in repair cycles through real-time collaboration with their dealerships. One of the largest offshore oil and gas exploration companies has saved $400 million through enhanced communication and improved collaborative decision making.
Rapid advancements in technology won’t stagnate job growth, but it will change the kinds of jobs that need to be filled and the competition for the scarce talent being recruited. Once the top performer signs the offer letter, managers and their HR partners must pay close attention to team assimilation.
Staying connected to the perceptions and emotions of the team through visual communication (and video collaboration, when necessary) will help prevent animosity and churn as the star performer and the existing team adjusts to new dynamics and they collectively deliver exceptional creativity, problem solving and innovation.