Over recent months, we have all likely been learning different ways to connect and build relationships with our customers, teams, wider matrix of collaborators and supporters.
The experience we have all been through has been deeply personal and individual and while there has been much that has brought our commonality into sharp focus, conversely there has been an intense introversion as we deal with our unique situations.
You’ve heard that saying about us all having weathered a storm – same storm, different boats.
Now, as we come back together, perhaps some of the differences that are lurking under the surface as we look to re-establish groups and teams will, in time, break up and out.
Some people have loved working at home, they have found it to give them flexibility; they have had balance to fit in exercise; they have time back from the commute; they have enjoyed the time alone to focus on work. Others have found that being at home has meant they are working stupidly long hours, with no off switch; they have felt pulled here and there across responsibilities; they have missed being with their colleagues.
How do we meaningfully, appropriately and successfully bring people together, either physically, virtually or (likely) somewhere in the middle?
My first things – and you’d expect this from me – is a) be intentional – actually take some time to prepare for this, and b) ask people what’s going on for them and how to help them set up to succeed. They will know the answer.
Things I’d say it’s worth thinking about:
- Consider how people will keep emotionally and physically well. ‘Working hours’ go out the window, and this can be good in many ways. But make sure you set expectations around taking breaks, getting exercise and switching off.
- Are your business ‘norms’ working now? All the stuff you used to do… or all the things you brought in ‘mid-crisis’ – do these still serve you, your teams and your customers?
- Are you clear on – and do other people understand – your purpose, direction and strategy. Are you really clear on this yourself? Do your teams, customers and wider matrix know?
- Linked to the above, are you being clear on roles, expectations and accountabilities? Have roles and responsibilities changed? Should they? Are all your individuals clear on what’s expected of them? I even mean down to stuff like timelines for replying to emails, whether the video is on or off for Zoom and so on.
- What communication serves each particular situation? Think about it and be intentional rather than just booking another team zoom. Is it team or a smaller group / 121? Is it a telephone call? Is it a video message from you? Newsletter, love chat, email. Or indeed a face to face?
- Who are you taking care of?
- Who is taking care of you?
Don’t mull all this over on your own. Ask for someone to think it through with.
Better still, ask the people who will be / are affected.
They will know the answer.