LEADING AND BUILDING RESILIENT TEAMS IN DIFFICULT TIMES
Resilient teams are those that bounce back from setbacks and use them as opportunities for reinvention and innovation. Here are some tips to maintain engagement, productivity, and interpersonal business relationships and build resilient (remote) teams.
BE A TRANSPARENT AND EMPATHETIC LEADER
– Check-in with your team on a personal level – Your team may be experiencing fear/anxiety due to uncertainty on multiple fronts: economic, isolation, family situation, parenting, home learning, dependent care, etc.
– Offer encouragement, emotional support, and communicate with understanding and empathy
– Make time to listen, empathize, and allow your team member’s concerns (rather than yours) be the focus.
– If a team member is clearly struggling but not communicating, take the time to reach out and ask.
CHECK IN WITH YOUR TEAM ON BUSINESS
– Be transparent when communicating about the current state, assigning work, discussing outcomes to reduce anxiety, fear, and uncertainty;
– Show your true self– vulnerability, leadership, and courage go hand in hand. Share, and be aware of what is appropriate in the workplace, and have boundaries for what isn’t appropriate or helpful.
– Digest and frame information – Teams look to their leaders for cues on how to react in difficult situations. If you signal fear and desperation, it will trickle down to your team.
– Work on acknowledging stress and anxiety your team may be feeling AND lead with inspiring and uplifting statements like…“this is tough, but I know we can handle it.”
FOCUS ON SUPPORT, NOT COMPLIANCE
– This is your opportunity to strengthen relationships with your team; Avoid constantly asking for updates;
– Make it ok to share challenges or frustrations and help solve them;
– Review your IT and Security policies – they may need to change to enable remote work;
– Review your HR policies to ensure they are sufficient for the current environment – sick leave, dependent care, budget for staff allowances, etc.
ESTABLISH STRUCTURED COMMUNICATION
– Set expectations for frequency, means, and timing of communication;
– A daily call with your team to provide a structured forum for planning the day, discussing roadblocks, mitigation plans, and milestones;
– Agile-style stand-ups if that is part of your normal operations;
– One-on-one calls for those working more independently or needing additional support;
– Establish rules of engagement for communication. For example: Daily team calls;
– Zoom, Slack, text for urgent communication
– Email or other tools for documenting actions, decisions;
– Process for team information sharing outside meetings;
– Leader schedule/availability for escalations, urgent decisions.
HAVE A FORUM FOR FEEDBACK
– Have a forum for feedback, what is working, not working, improvement suggestions. Allow time in meetings, email, or shared documents for team feedback.
ESTABLISH AND FOLLOW GOOD MEETING HABITS
– Determine what existing meetings add value (ask the team);
– Eliminate meetings that do not add value;
– Start meetings by clearly defining purpose, outcomes and duration. Stick to those!
– Make sure that each meeting has a real purpose, and that actions are followed through.
CONDUCT ENGAGING ONLINE MEETINGS
These steps can increase remote meeting productivity, improve engagement and focus, and ensure that your employees feel involved and valued.
– Start meeting on time, leader acknowledge everyone on the call, recognizing people by name or department;
– Leader begins with a welcome and intention for the call;
– Invites group for a ‘status check’. Some examples:
– Name, what do you hope to get out of the meeting AND…(one of
– What’s one positive that’s coming from this experience?
– What have you learned about yourself through this experience,
how will it change the way you
– These check-ins create a landing place for people to be heard,
connections are made before the real work begins. By doing this first, you’ve created more commitment and partnership for the work at hand.
– Meeting Leader then restates the intention for the call and desired outcome, naming the time to conclude the call. “Okay, we need to brainstorm a solution to this xxx issue, agree on an approach, and wrap up in 45 minutes.”
– Leader does more listening than talking, asks the group questions.
– Participants stay on task, attention focused on agenda, and keeping their mic muted when not speaking.
– Leader closes the meeting with a summary of conclusions, actions, and next steps.
– Close the meeting on time.
ACCESSIBLE TECH OPTIONS
– Email is well suited to asynchronous communication and documenting outcomes. However, it is insufficient for discussions and brainstorming.
Richer technology options could include: Video conferencing – helps improve connection in work from home situations.
– Synchronous communication tools such as Slack, enable real-time communication, questions, brainstorming. – Mobile-enabled tools like Slack and Zoom can also be used for less formal or time-sensitive conversations;
– Asynchronous communication tools, such as Workplace by Facebook, allow for writing structured content or activity stream, in-depth discussions and decision making
– Establish a storage tool for documents if you don’t already have one – Drive, Box, etc.
PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR TEAM SOCIAL INTERACTION
– Allow and structure ways for the team to connect socially away from work agenda and projects;
– Leave time at the beginning of team calls for non-work items;
– Set-up virtual coffee or lunch meetings w/ lunch delivered to your team members’ homes; virtual team happy hours;
– Create and share lists of best online workshops, training, movies, workouts, meditation;
– Select a movie, book, ted talk, or other media to all watch and discuss;
– Invite a motivational speaker;
– Have a Tik-Tok dance-off competition.
MAKE TIME FOR SELF-CARE
– We are daughters, sons, mothers, and fathers before we are professionals, and it is important not to neglect the parts of our lives that make us the most human.
– Create time in your workday for mediation, workout, walk, whatever your “white space” is;
– Stress can cause mental blocks, decrease in productivity and creativity as well as confusion and distress which can trickle down to your team;
– So, get to your “happy place” as often as you can;
– Stay connected with your support system – personal and professional;
– Continue connecting and working with your mentors, coaches, and others who support and lift you up.
If you need support, let’s have a conversation.