Team Building in Unusual Times

It’s getting to be cliché to say that 2020 has changed the way we all look at previously-normal business operations. Between offices going increasingly remote and everyone needing to rapidly adapt to social distancing, the more interesting conversation is not that things have changed, but how. While the specific methods and best practices for management have changed, the principles of good management have not. The importance of building a solid, agile, adaptable team has never been more apparent than it is now. We surveyed all QualityPro accredited companies to see how these industry leaders have embraced change and received some interesting answers.

Needless to say, social distancing measures have meant that existing models for ride-alongs, onboarding in-person, 1:1 coaching and team meetings have been thrown to the wind and companies have had to adapt by investing in digital tools and zeroing in on performance metrics. Tracking and sharing company metrics ensures that even when not all in the same office space, everyone in the company can stay on the same page and work towards the company’s goals. Most companies reported that they had already been managing with metrics and this eased the transition to coaching remotely. We asked companies to let us know more specifically which metrics they track and share with team members that encourages company growth and got a wide range of responses covering:

  • callbacks,
  • recurring sales,
  • referrals to new customers,
  • numbers of new customers,
  • closes,
  • cancellations,
  • number of five-star reviews, and
  • year-to-date sales goal projections.

Any manager will tell you that metrics and goals-tracking are only part of the experience of managing. The majority of the work is in instilling company culture and building and maintaining an effective team. The landscape and available tools for team building have changed but the polled QualityPro companies had come up with some inventive ways to keep team spirit going between coworkers who couldn’t meet in person. Different businesses have found ways that work for their specific work culture, but there are some excellent suggestions for ways to make the most of a complicated situation while increasing the amount of communication between leadership and employees. Some ideas shared are:

  • Team text chains or Microsoft Teams groups to maintain communication even at a distance—one business we spoke to even incentivizes participation by entering everyone who participates in activities within the group text in a chance to win a gift card
  • Book clubs including the management team
  • Fantasy football leagues

Companies are not only implementing new practices but investing in the necessary equipment to make that change, whether that’s professionalizing the office’s Zoom setup with lights and microphones, or moving everyone from computers to tablets to accommodate working remotely. Companies are embracing going paperless, creating more accessible phone systems, and sending sales and call-center employees home to telework. The recurring message we’re seeing is that changing the specifics of how businesses operate, the underlying theory and principles are sound. Maintaining effective communication practices, accessibility and giving employees the information and metrics they need to track their own progress and take ownership of their work make for a better, more coherent team environment.

If your business is looking for ideas for how to better optimize management practices for the current business environment, or if you want to refresh the management principles already in play in your business, QualityPro has a manager training (available at www.npmatraining.org). Particularly relevant to teambuilding are the modules “Managing Your Peers” and “Coaching for Success.” “Managing Your Peers” covers subjects including balancing friendships with business relationships, maintaining confidentiality and setting the tone for the workplace—focusing on creating a day-to-day environment in the company to foster trust, professionalism and effectiveness among members of the team. “Coaching for Success” covers the nuts and bolts of setting team members up for success, focusing on solutions-oriented coaching, recognizing and dealing with performance issues, keeping document trails to meet QualityPro HR standards and how to troubleshoot issues when all management best practices fail.

QualityPro companies continue to raise the bar for the industry in terms of professionalism, consistency, quality and training. Our resources are available to all companies who have achieved, or who are pursuing, QualityPro Accreditation. To learn how to integrate these resources into your team’s training plan, contact qualitypro@pestworld.org.

QualityPro is administered by the Foundation for Professional Pest Management, an independent organization that has been developing good business practices and standards since 2004. Designed specifically for pest management companies in the US and Canada, we are proud to certify over 500 of the best companies in the pest management industry. QualityPro is endorsed by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).