10 minute read
Epigraph for section - "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." Andrew Carnegie
THE ZOOM HAPPY HOUR
The "Zoom Happy Hour" is becoming a new workplace tradition.
Since you're concerned about morale, you decide to host one yourself. Much to your surprise, you get a lukewarm response.
For many, the Zoom Happy Hour feels like other workplace traditions. It's well intended, but a little painful.
People appreciate the thought behind Secret Santa, the annual blood drive, and buying Girl Scout cookies from co-workers, but few look forward to the experience.
You decide to try your Zoom Happy Hour anyway.
The Happy Hour begins like any other Zoom meeting. Some are on time. Others aren't. Some cameras on. Some off.
The same people that always forget that they're on mute - forget they're on mute. The Happy Hour continues.
Like Secret Santa, a few people really get into it. Like giving blood, some can't bare to watch. The Zoom Happy Hour doesn't quite work like you had thought.
People say they enjoyed it, but their response feels forced. Like buying Girl Scout cookies, it feels like their arms have been twisted.
Your employees have been through a lot. You know because you've been through a lot, too.
For some, work was a welcome respite from home. For others, home was a welcome respite from work. But now many work from home.
There's no more line of demarcation. The Zoom Happy Hour reminded many of that painful fact. It was well intended, but a little painful.
THE CONNECTIVE TISSUE
As we discussed in Section 2, motivation comes and goes.
On any given day, some of your team will really be on their game. Others will be off their game. But they're all on the same team.
A team building event won't fix a sickly team.
A healthy team may enjoy socializing together, but they don't need to socialize together to become a healthy team.
A team functions like a human body. A team has individual contributors. A body has vital organs.
No matter how talented the individuals are, they have to work together. No matter how healthy the heart, lungs and kidneys are, they have to work together.
The body has connective tissue that enable vital organs to work together. This includes blood, bones and muscle.
A team needs connective tissue, too. They need shared goals, values and motives. They need mutual commitments, respect and accountability.
A team's connective tissue are the things its members share and reciprocate.
Blood and oxygen needs to flow through the body, or it's vital organs wont work. If people don't share goals and motives, the team wont work.
Your job is to create a healthy team environment. This requires mutual commitments, respect and accountability.
Team dynamics don't occur naturally. They need to be developed and nurtured by someone, and that someone is you.
THE TEAM DYNAMIC
Team dynamics are the psychological forces that influence your team's behavior. In the post-Covid workplace, those psychological forces are under siege.
These are unsettling times. When people are uncertain, the team's uncertain. When people are stressed, the team's stressed. When people decide to check out for a few days, the team is disabled.
Shared goals and mutual commitments bring teams together. Competing agendas and ulterior motives will rip teams apart.
Any change will impact the team dynamic. A new policy, a new plan or new employee can impact the team psyche. How the team thinks about the change is key.
We all have an inner-voice. Team's have an inner-voice, too. A team's inner-voice is influenced the prevailing beliefs, ideas and attitudes of the group.
Like individuals, the team's collective inner-voice produces opinions and perceptions about anything it's asked to do.
Say you're hosting a meeting for your team. It's different. You're not an attendee. This is your meeting. Unlike meetings you attend, your not worried about what you're not doing. But your people are!
The topic turns to an unpopular change. The team begins to bitch and complain. Any morale boost from the Zoom Happy Hour seems lost.
The team is collectively pissed. They're not pissed at you, but you're the messenger. You feel like the object of their anger. This is the team's collective inner-voice shouting back at you.
You influence the team's inner voice. So do some of your employees. Role models and informal leaders can have a very positive effect on the team psyche. Gossips and naysayers have a negative effect.
THE BEST PRACTICES
This final section is about your role as the team leader.
Team managers in a post-Covid workplace have certain leadership hacks at their disposal.
- Reset team standards, because they've either been forgotten or have changed
- Raise your expectations of the team, because teams fall into ruts
- Clarify everyone's role on the team, because it gives members renewed purpose
- Conduct clarity checks, because teams lose focus
- Refocus around common goals, because teams need something to work towards
- Promote shared motives, because ulterior motives may have emerged
- Focus on process goals, because teamwork is a process (not an outcome)
- Give group feedback, because it promotes team unity
- Hold the team accountable, because that promotes mutual accountability
- Celebrate the team's progress, because it builds team confidence
The members of your team may feel isolated, distracted and uncertain. A virtual happy hour won't solve for covid-fatigue.
These team-based leadership hacks will promote a sense of belonging, focus and clarity.
Work is social. People need to feel connected to others. Especially now. A common goal and high standards for team conduct will create that feeling of connectedness.
When people have a role on a team, they feel a sense of value. Their purpose is clear. They take more pride in their work.
Positive peer pressure is motivating. People don't want to let one another down. They want - need - to be accepted by the group.
Process goals and timely, group feedback bring certainty to any situation. Holding the group accountable builds camaraderie.