2020 ended with renewed hope: the much-desired vaccine was approved. 2021 started promising with the news of the beginning of the vaccination process. We began to dream of returning to possible normality; being with friends, hugging our relatives again, enjoying the little things in life without fear.
Suddenly, cases grow up (more than 10,000 a day). The news is not encouraging, hospitals and healthcare professionals are at their limit. We start to see people close to us falling ill or passed away. We are haunted again by the same doubts and questions: will our economy survive? What about people’s mental health? We do our math and realize that very challenging times await us. Here we are again.
The second confinement has arrived. Are we ready? We use the best weapons: books, courses, Netflix, slippers, hygienic tours. Without forgetting the greatest allies: mask and alcohol-gel. Welcome to the next level of Jumanji.
What are the main challenges for leaders?
We have already used up our creativity by inventing activities to keep our people motivated. We read articles, listen to motivational speeches. Unlike our grandparents, we have several tools (mostly free) that we could not live without: Teams, Zoom, Skype. We also have a huge number of ideas and online activities that we can work on as a team.
The crucial question remains: how to reach truly the people on the other side? How do we know they are present and involved?
We are fed up. That is the word – fed up. Tired of the little flexibility that confinement offers us. We feel that we live in repetition. Routines are healthy and offer structure, but little elasticity can make us claustrophobic.
How to innovate within four walls (even if you are lucky enough to have a garden)?
The person on the other side of the computer is not just a colleague. Much more than professionals, they are people like us. Parents, sons, husbands/wives. People with the same fears and weaknesses. The physical separation between home and work is no longer possible. The two live together in the same space and can sometimes collide. How many of us have that colleague who strives between meetings and taking care of the family? Or the one that is completely isolated, days and days, without talking to a person’s face to face. Which of the two has more courage? Different challenges require different types of courage. Let us not forget that we are distinct, but we share the same narrative.
If you are in a leadership position – do not try to do it alone. It is impossible. Do not try to be perfect and always have a super optimistic speech. Be honest and transparent with your team. Let them know that you also have the same weaknesses and that you need their strength and energy.
Tips & tricks
- Space and schedule
Basic rule: it is important to have the separation between workspace, meals and leisure. Respect borders.
Keep a schedule and respect it. One of the advantages of teleworking is flexibility but define the start and the end of your working day. It is possible that we do more hours because we feel that there are not many more interesting things to do afterward. But it is important to know how to “turn off the button”.
After work, do something you enjoy or just throw yourself on the couch and rest without feeling guilty.
Make it clear to your team that meetings and events are necessary, and everyone should be present. But give them the flexibility to set their own schedule. Trust them (they do not always need to have the Skype symbol in green to prove that they are doing their jobs).
- Team Building events
Each one is in his bubble. But we continue to work as a team. Most importantly, we remain a team. Creating activities is not enough. The key is to promote moments of sharing. It is possible to do it in a simple and natural way. After the first team sync of the day, invite them to turn on the cameras and drink coffee online. It is fifteen minutes before returning to work that allows you to breathe and gain energy to start the day.
We all have different knowledge and skills. Challenge each member to share it in sessions between 25-30 minutes (at lunch break, for example) with the rest of the team. It does not have to be a topic of the project. It may be something related to soft skills or personal interest. The goal is to bring something interesting and that people can apply daily.
Another interesting example could be the invitation to an online drink at the end of the day. Make it clear that it is not mandatory to attend, but that it would be a good opportunity to relax and connect. You do not need to have an agenda with a defined program or start asking questions in case of silence. Let it flow. Allow people to know each other and feel comfortable to talk about the most random topics. Promote an informal environment where jokes may arise. A joke at the right time can save the day. Good humor is as effective in stressful situations as alcohol-gel is for Covid.
It is important to feel that we belong and play an active role. As human beings, we need to feel that we are creating something together (project, product, team). Promote monthly brainstorming sessions in which the team participates proactively in improving processes, products and the team itself. Involve all members. Pull for their creativity and initiative. The simple task of preparing an organization chart (with fun photographs), with the description of each member (including personal interests) or a team calendar with vacations, birthdays and important project dates, promotes confidence and a sense of belonging.
Keywords: sharing and creating together.
Examples of team building and energizers activities:
Example of a brainstorming tool:
Tip: if the team is more tired or unmotivated, you can start with an energizer in the morning. These can also be very useful if used as a break during very long meetings that require a lot of concentration.
- Peer review
It is a practice widely used in software development, but it can be applied in all areas, both technical and functional. In times of teleworking, this practice gains even more meaning as it promotes interaction and interdependence between colleagues. Encourages communication and constructive feedback, in addition to improving productivity and quality of deliveries.
- One on One
As important as the team relationship, is the one that each leader has individually. Invite him to a One on One session. Here the rule is: let him talk! Offer all the protagonist he deserves. Allow him to share what he is feeling about the project, team, but also how he feels personally and how you can help him. Even if you cannot offer an immediate solution or plan, being a good (and interested) listener makes all the difference.
There are no perfect tips or recipes. Each person is a person. Like most things, we learn from experience and mistakes. We are not going to wake up every day with extraordinary energy and a positive attitude that inspires the whole World. We live in uncertain and challenging times (it is almost as complicated to predict the duration of the confinement as planning a vacation in that dream place).
We will have ups and downs in our mood and concentration. Do not blame yourself, do not try to be a hero. We are not okay (and we will not be okay anytime soon). But we continue to walk. Life did not stop, it just changed. Respect your time and energy. Do not be afraid to stop if necessary. “The break is part of the song”.
Source : Dinheiro Vivo