21 Jun 2022

How to build self-sustaining teams in the era of the great resignation?

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Written by Anish Betawadkar

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We’re in the midst of a peculiar labor market phenomenon rightly labelled as the Great Resignation which started in the US and spread worldwide. Driven by the increased demand for labor fueling the thriving job market and causing employees to quit in search of greener pastures.

The Great Resignation has created quite the stir wherein companies are struggling to retain talent while the recruitment engine has gone in an overdrive.

Beyond aggressive recruitment, the entire delivery engine is affected too because of the great resignation. The most affected business unit being the team.

A team is built with a common objective. Challenge is when the team is not constant, and the higher churn doesn’t let the team perform!

A typical team needs to undergo phases of storming and norming before they can finally start performing (and taste success).

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Figure 1 image source- https://guides.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/TeamDevelopment/stages-of-development

A team may take weeks, months or even years to reach the Performing stage depending on complexity of the work it is tasked to do.

With the great resignation, which is characterized by a rapid turnover of team members, it is increasingly difficult for a team to reach the Performing stage with members leaving throughout its development stages.

Impact of the Great Resignation

No country appears to be spared from this mega phenomenon with global corporates facing high attrition rates.

Taking the data in picture:

Looking at India, Aon’s survey suggests that attrition rates stood at 21% in 2021 as opposed to 12.8% in 2020.

In the United States on the other hand, the total annual turnover rate stood at a whopping 57.3% according to the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statics report, while the technology sector reporting a turnover of 21.3%.

A record of 4.53 million people quit their jobs in Nov 2021 in the US.

What has driven the great resignation though?

Did you realize, looking at the prevailing high rates of employee turnovers, it won’t be an overstatement to say that half of the team will be changed in less than 2 years. How do we ensure that a team is performing through these changes?

We have been asking this question to ourselves and maybe we have something to share that helped us grow from 1 to nearly 100 in 5 years of a highly competitive market.

Read on to know our take on how to build & retain self-sustaining teams in these turbulent market conditions.

1. Focus on retaining key talent

Talent retention starts not when the talent is in the company, but way before that. It starts from the first touch point with the prospective candidate.

Do you know who you want to hire?

Defining your prospective talent persona and pursing those who fit the persona solves half of the problem.

Look at how Google does it- they have a pre-defined persona of candidates they want to hire- what they seek for in prospective employees is- ‘Googlyness’, a hard to define quality which doesn’t fit in a neatly defined box. So, what makes up this persona? – someone who enjoys fun, has intellectual humility, comes with conscientiousness (a good level of ownership), comfort with ambiguity & uncertainty, and interestingly, Google looks for some sign of having taken a courageous or interesting path in life

As you can see, Google is pretty clear about what kind of employees they’re looking to onboard, and this is what makes all the difference!

Company Culture to the rescue!

Having a great company culture is the next piece of the puzzle.

What makes a company culture truly great is a culture where each person is empowered and has a growth path.

An empowered company culture is one where ownership is valued, and questions are encouraged. An empowered culture nurtures employees into self-driven team members who aren’t hesitant to take initiatives and take on new challenges.

2. Focus on building a team that gives a growth path for each person

Each person in a team matters and certainly deserves to grow.

Working in a well-established team with a defined hierarchy shouldn’t mean stagnancy and the end of growth opportunities.

The team composition should be such that gives a growth path for everybody within the team.

Providing mentoring & grooming for growth across the team hierarchy ensures a democratic growth ecosystem in a team.

Another practice that facilitates growth within a team is encouraging members to become replaceable. This may seem paradoxical at first but the crux being that once a member becomes replaceable, he/she can get an opportunity to scale the ladder and grow vertically, maintaining a steady flux of growth and opportunities in a team environment.

3. Invest in the team (Invest to train and grow)

Investing in the growth of a team can yield impressive ROI’s.

Concentrating on getting the basics right can make all the difference.

Here are some growth practices which have worked for us:

  • Conducting training & development activities to encourage employee growth & all-round development. These aren’t restricted to hard skills and technical training. Investing in conducting soft skill and communication training helps in holistic growth.
  • Equipping the workspace with state-of-the-art infrastructure makes sure that each person in the team has the best tools in his arsenal
  • Building an inviting & vibrant workplace where employees look forward to coming to work

In short, it isn’t without a you-grow, we-grow approach that teams & companies grow and thrive!

To conclude

In our years of experience building high performing, self-sustaining teams, we have come to a conclusion that employees who are happy & feel cared-for won’t feel the need to leave. Inculcating such practices is the key to building self-sustaining teams in the era of the great resignation or otherwise.

At IncubXperts, we pride ourselves on building a rich company culture. Take a sneak peek at Life at IncubXperts to know how we do it.