“Look for the helpers.” – Fred Rogers
Now, more than ever, the world needs leaders. Many people are feeling confused, anxious and disconnected from their support systems. It doesn’t help that during this challenging time, some who are in formal leadership positions feel paralyzed and overwhelmed — a completely natural reaction to this unprecedented situation!
This is why it is the perfect time to step boldly into an opportunity to lead, whether or not you hold an official leadership title in your job. The world needs leaders and we can all lead, from any position, especially if you see a need.
In one situation I heard about, the team leader decided to handle the current climate by not handling it and proceeding with business as usual, without even addressing the elephant in the room. In some respects this is helpful, because it does lend a sense of normalcy… but some team members were growing frustrated and felt that their emotional needs weren’t being met, and as a result, they were much less focused and productive.
Seeing this, one team member decided to take charge and requested to lead certain new urgent projects that had come up. Her leader appreciated that she offered to help (which took pressure off of him).
Because she saw the need for both swifter action and more connection among her team members and took action, the team was less anxious, felt more connected and trusting of each other, and more productive.
So here’s my call to action this week: STEP UP. No matter what your role is, if you see that people on your team aren’t having their needs met, I invite you to take action and help bring people together in trust, community and hope.
Not sure how to start? Here are three ideas.
Idea #1: Lead Regular Check-In Videos
Whether you are the “boss” or the self-appointed head of team well-being, organize and schedule time for your team members to connect with and support each other. The big questions are, “How are you, really? What do you need right now? How can I help?”
I really want to emphasize that this is different than holding a team video conference for the purpose of zipping through a checklist of to-do’s. This check-in serves the purpose of holding a space for people to show up authentically and acknowledge that, yes, life is different right now, and yes, there will very likely be some strong emotions around the changes we are experiencing.
We are physically disconnected so intentionally creating a way for our teams to connect with each other is imperative.
In your check-in videos, be sure that each person gets a chance to share how they’re doing, including any areas in which they’re struggling. A good way to start is by using a daily barometer (“How are you doing today on a scale of 1-10?”) Another way is to have everyone give a one-word answer to the question, “How are you feeling?” Some people will offer positive answers (“Productive/Motivated/Rested”) while others will perhaps reveal that they need a little more support (“Scared/Grieving/Depressed”) today.
You can also use question cards to gain more interaction. I love the “We Connect Cards: Creating Conversations that Matter”. There are three kinds of cards in this deck: Fun & Light questions (“What app or tool needs to be invented?”), Self-Reflection questions (“What has been one of your favorite moments in life?”), and A Bit Deeper questions (“What is one thing you learned from a failure?”)
Idea #2: Schedule Office Hours
Remember in college when professors would establish office hours? It was time they committed to being in their office and available to students who had questions or needed a little extra help. Any student could drop by for a conversation.
I suggest that you, too, hold office hours, to make yourself available for members of your team to tune in and talk. I suggest that these sessions are not required.
There are a variety of ways to do this:
- Have staff sign up for 15 minute blocks. These would be 1:1 video conferences. (I like video much better than phone interaction right now, since it allows you to “see” the other person and read their body language.)
- Host an hour long Zoom meeting once or twice a week and let anyone who wants to join in pop on the line and ask a question or participate in a discussion.
If you think about working in an office setting, you have the opportunity to step into someone’s cubicle and check in casually. It’s a way of gauging the other person and staying connected. These office hours are a way of creating that opportunity, virtually.
Idea #3: Host a Team or Peer Virtual Happy Hour or Virtual Coffee
This is a more casual and fun way to connect with your team members. Here, you can play with your Zoom backgrounds, invite partners and kids, and show everyone your pets!
Remember, the human connection piece is critical right now. When you establish the well-being check-in and do it regularly, you will help your team members get into action from that point. If their well-being is ignored, it’s really hard for them to be productive.
This week, I invite you to implement some of these strategies to help your team feel supported, connected and trusting.
Photo Source: TheAllenWriterBlog