COVID-19 has shuffled priorities for most companies, and cash flow struggles are taking centre stage for many. As a result, offering personal development opportunities and forming collaborative networks aren’t key focuses for many businesses right now. But while we’re enduring the low morale of COVID-19, self-development opportunities and team-work exercises could be exactly the kind of motivation that employees need. That’s why Fresh Thinking Group’s founder Scott Dylan recommends giving your team members the chance to upskill and hone their collaborative skills now.
Of course, most firms are working with smaller budgets at the moment, but there are ways that you can upskill your employees and build informal networks without breaking the bank. Here, Scott Dylan explains his top three methods on how to offer staff development opportunities and build informal networks without stretching your budget during this difficult time.
Implement Peer-To-Peer Mentoring
You don’t need to hire external mentors to train your employees if you already have staff who have been championing your firm for years. These people are already well-placed to train recruits and less experienced team members. Once you’ve selected the people who will offer your company training, consider how much of their workload you will need to distribute to others so that they can train team members to a high standard. Not only is this method of training cost-free, but you’ll also show your most experienced members of staff how much you value and trust them.
Make the Most of Online Learning
The internet offers a wealth of courses, materials, and resources that your team can access to improve their skills – and many of these are free or low-cost. The other advantage of using materials from the web is that staff can complete their training from home or the office, so you won’t need to cover travel costs. You could also let your team choose the online courses and materials that they would like to use – this is a winner when it comes to boosting staff morale.
Engage in Collaborative Meetings
Efficiency equals cost savings, so Scott recommends finding ways to streamline your business processes. Collaboration is key here, and bringing staff from each department into an informal network can unlock huge benefits for your company. Forming informal networks can also help team members to excel when it comes to reporting and investigating. Plus, the more your team collaborates, the more you’ll find that they develop skills from each other, enriching your business with rounded skillsets.
What Is an Informal Network?
An informal network is a group of colleagues who aim to improve productivity by focusing on communication instead of rigid business frameworks. Many organisations already have informal networks in place, even if they don’t realise it – these networks tend to form naturally based on relationships between employees who work best together and share similar expertise and/or experiences. When companies recognise their informal networks, they can make the most of each person’s skills to reap the most benefits from collaborative projects.
Here are four tips that Scott recommends when it comes to managing healthy informal networks.
1. Encourage Flexibility
Don’t be too rigid about each team member’s role and explicit ‘skillset’. Hierarchy is helpful to a degree, but the flexibility of an informal network helps employees to communicate most effectively and analyse their overall strengths and weaknesses in the context of each project.
2. Remain Professional
Sometimes, the word ‘informal’ can encourage gossip and a lack of professionalism. Managers should take measures to avoid gossip – team members should endeavour to stay on task despite the informal nature of the network.
3. Use Creative Spaces
If you usually work in set office spaces, encourage your team members to gather in communal areas where they can brainstorm and think creatively. Gathering in an open space promotes togetherness and unity, which helps team members to get to know each other and work collaboratively.
4. Monitor Progress
Carefully monitor how your team reacts to the informal network set up. If they become more relaxed and work together cohesively, you’ll know your strategy is working. Keep assessing progress to keep on top of how effective your informal networks are – you can change things up as frequently as you like.
For more information about maintaining a healthy workplace culture amid the pandemic, visit Scott Dylan’s blog.
About The Author
Scott Dylan is a distressed M&A investor who provides capital injections, mentorship, and business advice for a range of firms. As the co-founder and key partner of private equity disruptor Fresh Thinking Group, he continuously works to improve company collaboration and outputs to accelerate growth. Fresh Thinking Group funds three major groups – Orb Group, Inc & Co Group and Inc & Co Property Group – as well as an extensive collection of acquisitions. The group collective enables each of these acquisitions to share high-level resources and benefit from funding to meet their individual business goals. Learn more about Fresh Thinking Group at https://freshthinking.group.