Making Teamwork Work

Coaching people to behave better as they work together in teams.

People Analytics, Future of Work, HR Tech, Employee Engagement, Teamwork, Goals, OKR, Belonging, Leadership, Culture, Wellbeing, Feedback, Employee Experience, Reputation, Transparency

Work Isn't Working!

Our modern work environment is not the same as it was when we started creating large organizations over a century ago. Work has evolved from simple roles that individual contributors completed on a routine basis where we could easily measure and reward the output of every employee. The relationships and technology needed to manage the old ‘command-and-control’ hierarchical organization structure was much easier compared to today.

Work has changed significantly over the past century to a point where we can no longer get work done using independent individuals completing a sequence of unique tasks. We have rapidly moved to a dynamic team structure where interdependent individuals must work together in teams to create complex products and solutions for their customers.

The problem is that we tell our employees to work together in teams, but all of our processes and technology were designed to support individual contribution.

Here are some simple examples:

  • We tell employees to “work in teams” but still stack rank their individual contribution as if they compete with each other.
  • We tell employees to “work in teams” but still deliver the majority of recognition and spot bonuses based on individual contribution.
  • We tell employees to “work in teams” but still provide feedback and training focused on individual contribution.We tell employees to use new team collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Box to help them work better together, but then fail to use these tools to measure, recognize, and reward outstanding team contribution.

This struggle is creating a major epidemic inside of our organizations that will only get worse as we put more conflicting responsibilities on our employees. At Synctrics, we think it is time for every organization to start asking this one simple question:

Are we building our work culture around employee competition or employee connection?

You can’t have both. The lack of alignment is creating major problems for every individual at every level.


We Are ‘Hurting’ Our Employees

We are all aware of the many symptoms that result from the misalignment of an organization that is structured around teams and our technology that is structured around individuals. Employees’ needs are not being met and it is affecting employee health and wellbeing. Study after study shows that rising levels of stress in the workplace is a major contributor to chronic health problems and unhealthy behaviors.

It is a bit shocking to hear academic research blame the workplace environment as the fifth largest cause of death in the United States.

But if we really stop and think about it, the warning signs are all there:

  •  Employees don’t feel psychological safety where they can take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.
  • Nearly two-thirds of employees are unfulfilled at work and feel like their job controls them, rather than them controlling their jobs.
  • People don’t trust each other because they don’t have the time or opportunity to create meaningful relationships with the people they work with.

Automate the Technology

The HR Technology market is experiencing a great deal of investment and growth as organizations and vendors struggle to figure out how to improve the employee experience and create a more engaged workforce. Leaders are scrambling to figure out how to fix many of the broken technology and processes that have become more visible as they move away from command-and-control structures and create dynamic teams that require much stronger relationships. The simple solution (and current theory among most HR Tech companies) is to take the existing technology and apply automation and user-centered design to make things easier to use in the flow of work. However, there comes a point where we all must step back and ask ourselves: “Are these new technologies making things better or worse for our employees?”.

While automation may make the process simpler, it doesn’t solve the core problem. We continue to try and fix our employee engagement problem by adding additional tools and technology which only end up adding more stress felt by every employee.

The average large organization now has 15 or more tools within their HR Tech stack.

Examples include: a tool for performance reviews, a tool for goal setting, a tool for goal tracking, a tool for feedback, a tool for recognition, a tool for pulse surveys, and multiple tools for training and employee development. With all of these productivity tools and applications integrated into every employee's daily work, it’s a wonder how they find time to get any meaningful, creative work done at all. We think there has come a point that we all must stop and reflect on the purpose and value delivered by each of these disconnected tools to determine if they are actually driving the desired outcomes for the business. What message are we really sending when we force every employee to complete just one more survey about the culture of the organization.


Inconsistency Between Messages and Actions

Organizations may vocally state that they care about the health and wellbeing of their employees, but their actions say something very different. Truly caring about the wellbeing of your employees does not look like the following:

  • Stack ranking all employees within a group or forcing their performance to fit inside of one of nine boxes
  • Monitoring their email activity to predict who might be a flight risk
  • Begging employees to stay when they tell you they have found a better job
  • Delivering feedback that sounds more like ‘you are never going to be good enough’
  • Requiring all employees to create goals that cascade up to management objectives
  • Creating People Analytics teams to find hidden insights in the vast amount of confidential employee data

At Synctrics, we believe there’s a better way.

We believe that every employee has the right to work productively on teams with individuals who support the unique strengths of each member.

We think it is clear that the technology currently used to manage employees is not designed to create this type of relationship and it is only a matter of time before employees will become fed up with the controlling aspect of an anxious employer that is terrified of an employee who will actually leave. HR and Business Leaders must stop focusing on what our employees are doing for the organization and instead focus on what they are doing to support effective teams. We challenge all organizations and vendors to stop building HR technology that just automates outdated HR processes designed for individuals and start building technology designed to optimize team success.


Employee Ownership

For the past 100 years technology and innovation has disrupted nearly every aspect of how, where, when, and why we work. You would think that how we measure, monitor, and drive employee performance would change as well but that's not the case. Organizations still largely use the same processes, rubrics, and metrics that were leveraged several decades ago. There is a better way.

We believe it is time for a major disruption in this space, not just incremental optimization.

We believe it's time for managers to stop using HR Tech to control employees’ activities but instead for employees to start using HR Tech to control their own development.

This pivotal disruption cannot happen without fundamentally changing the control of all employee performance data related to an individual.

If we really care about the wellbeing of our employees, we must set their performance data free so they can control and influence their career identity and performance reputation. Look at what this type of freedom of data has done for personal finance and fitness. Tools like Mint, Fitbit, Apple Health have put financial and health performance data into the hands of the individuals with remarkable outcomes. We believe that that type of freedom and joint ownership of work performance data can be equally as impactful for individuals and organizations. Here is a list of just some of the elements that we think every employee should control:

  • Every individual should control who they want to receive feedback from
  • Every individual should control who they share their performance data with
  • Every individual should be able to see the strengths and weakness of their team and understand how they uniquely contribute to team success
  • Every individual should control how much performance data they share with others
  • Every individual should control the skills they want to develop to be a more effective team member and chart their own course
  • Every individual should be able to ask for and receive peer coaching from anyone else
  • And most importantly, every individual should be able to control and keep their performance reputation throughout their entire career, even if they move to a new organization

Create Value for Everyone

We aim to build Synctrics as the first HR Tech platform designed for the 21st-century organizational structure or ‘future of work’ serving the needs of all stakeholders including individuals, employees, teams, leaders, and the organization. Creating unique value for all stakeholders is the best way to build trusting relationships between everyone involved. If organizations are now structured as dynamic teams that require strong relationships between individuals, then our HR Technology needs to also focus on building trusting connections between people. Aligning the team structure and technology together will dramatically change the focus of many of the HR functions inside of organizations. This will impact the wellbeing of your employees in a positive way as they create a network of trusting relationships that improve team dynamics, creates cohesion between team members, and helps teams get things done faster. 

At Synctrics, we aim to help individuals to identify and expand their strengths, help employees thrive in a supportive environment, help teams effectively use the strengths of each team member, help leaders request and give constructive coaching, and help organizations use People Analytics to optimize team success. In other words, our mission at Synctrics is to coach people to behave better as they work together in teams. We look forward to helping organizations around the world to adopt this major transformation and align their HR Technology to the dynamic team structures of today’s modern organization.

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