How to Create a Positive Culture and Employee Experience for Embedded Teams

TSP • @myTSPnet


If you take a look at any organization, you might find that there are many functioning as embedded teams, which are cross-functional groups working together with their individual talents toward a common goal. This type of team looks a little different than one conducting a more traditional outsourcing approach. Traditional outsourcing processes can lack in how they benefit an organization due to limited opportunities to get up close and personal with the work they’re trying to improve. This is where an embedded team has the advantage in long-term client projects.

Oftentimes, if a client is in need of extra support for a time-sensitive project, an employee from a vendor or outside partner is outsourced and embedded into the existing team. Newly embedded team members are able to observe and understand the requirements of the workplace they are entering and build their knowledge around that particular workflow. The structure of a team remains the same, with organizational titles and roles, while the group works together as one cohesive unit. Everyone works alongside each other, all chasing the same goal or success.

Linking together as an embedded, cross-functional team allows the group to work together and exceed expectations of a client. No matter the capacity, embedded teams are vital, and the integrated operations are important to achieving any and every goal. So, how do these teams work together to move toward success? Here are five strategies to create a positive experience within embedded teams.

Anytime a new member is onboarded, it’s important for everyone involved to understand the “why.” This is especially true for outsourced members embedded in an existing team. When someone is new and trying to find their footing among their new coworkers, they’re likely dipping their toe into getting to know the project or client at the same time.

With this in mind, it is imperative for each member to know the true purpose of the team. When everyone possesses the same knowledge and is on the same page about the end goal, there’s automatically a certain cohesiveness among the group that will lead to success.

Everyone has a unique set of skills and this is especially true for embedded teams. What an outsourced member brings to the table can be incredibly helpful and profitable to everyone. Team leaders and members will benefit by being aware of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Not only will this allow project managers to place the right person in the role, but also create some common ground among everyone.

Those who lack a particular skill can learn from others who may be more knowledgeable in that area. This increases the percentage of employees who are able to do a job well, leading to greater success for the team. Additionally, this aids in personal growth and skill development, while normalizing cohesion among the embedded group and increasing overall morale.

As much as we hope to quickly bond with newly embedded team members, there’s a certain level of trust that is met only after people have worked together. From there, team members are able to gauge others’ work ethic and responsiveness to different situations. With these experiences, individuals among the team have the opportunity to bond, therefore trust is built. This may be more difficult for members to immediately trust a newly embedded coworker. However, when projects have a quick turnaround time or possibly a year-long retainer, it’s vital to foster trust among everyone on the team.

Face-to-face interaction through socialization can aid in breaking the barriers we often put up in professional settings. Sometimes, bringing everyone together and removing work from the situation can be an effective practice in increasing engagement between unfamiliar members. Introducing informal opportunities for the team to get to know each other seems like a simple act, but social bonds enhance interaction and transparency and brings the focus back to the common goal of working together effectively as a team.

It may feel overwhelming when it comes to consistent communication among embedded teams. The typical office functions that are seemingly second nature to some might be foreign to a newly onboarded member. Recognizing how your team best functions requires everyone to eliminate disconnection and communicate as often as needed. Opening up channels among the team will ensure everyone is alert and aware of team operations.

Workplace collaboration apps, such as Slack, Google Chat or Microsoft Teams, could be effective channels and better alternatives than filing up someone’s email inbox. Utilizing the well-known Zoom technology for video calls could benefit your team meetings. Trial and error with different communication channels will help you find what is most beneficial for everyone and uncover more avenues to success.

Not every process set into motion will end up being the best option, so it’s important to analyze and reevaluate once time has passed. Acknowledge what has worked for your team, discuss continued efforts and set everyone on track to carry on in that direction. Recognize what has failed or not gone the way you had hoped and redirect the path. What works for some will not suit the needs of others, so it’s important to know what allows and restricts the team from performing well and adjust with everyone in mind.

Forming an embedded team takes time and continued efforts from everyone. There are many benefits of this type of team for an organization and individuals. Following these five steps in fostering a collaborative workplace environment and creating a positive employee experience for embedded teams will help each member reach their highest level of performance. Cross-functional, embedded teams will help you stay ahead of the curve and produce results that matter.

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