How leaders can help teams find their groove again
Recently, I had the opportunity to head to Melbourne for a two-day offsite with a client’s organisation. There, in the city known for its harsh lockdowns, it seemed like the perfect place for these teams to come together for the first time in nearly three years, and it reminded me that there are still many national and global teams that are finding their feet as they tackle the pandemic recovery.
Get out of your comfort zone
There’s no doubt that leaders and teams alike are excited to connect in person again, but the reality of face-to-face relationships can be daunting after so much time apart. It’s natural to have lost your groove a little bit and to feel anxious about returning to old relationships or building new ones – perhaps you’re even facing the prospect of bridging the gap with people you’ve only ever known online.
It can be scary and your confidence might be shaken slightly. It’s all well and good to get back to the office, but what are you actually doing when you get there? For leaders, it’s all about recognising that your team is stepping outside of their pandemic-induced comfort zones and putting a plan into place to ensure they can thrive as they return to working face-to-face.
Thinking outside of the box
One of the biggest dangers in coming back to the office is that everyone will sit in their own bubbles, working mostly alone in the way that they’ve become accustomed to throughout the pandemic, without taking advantage of the collaboration that in-person working can offer.
Leaders have an opportunity here to shake things up, to get their team thinking outside of the box and to foster collaboration that enhances relationships.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple way to shake things up is to hold a regular meeting at a local cafe, rather than in the office meeting room. It’s not a huge shock, but it mixes up the routine, encouraging teams to think differently. Of course, the more ‘traditional’ route can be engaging an external company to run team building activities that are designed to foster engagement and collaboration, getting people working in small groups and interacting with each other.
At the event I attended recently, the cohort was split into teams and given challenges to get them thinking differently – none of these challenges were too complicated but they allowed the teams to engage in this incredibly valuable interaction. At the end of the event, the energy, enthusiasm and confidence was radiating from the group – these kinds of shake ups can do wonders for a team.
Creating a psychologically safe work environment
Collaboration is important, but it can only happen if leaders are committed to creating environments where team members feel safe. This means that everyone is open and listening to each other – no idea is too simple or too complicated. Your whole team must feel comfortable to share their ideas, to speak up without being shot down.
Every move you make as your team comes back into the office – and for months afterward – should be considered carefully. The things you do in these early days can shape the culture of your organisation moving forward and it’s important to create an environment where collaboration and engagement is prioritised for success.
Want to boost collaboration in your team now that you’re back in the office? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.