A few days ago I was browsing social media and I saw a post that changed my perspective on the pandemic. It said,
“Before you rush back to normal, consider the “normal” you are rushing back to.”
In a matter of moments, I was rethinking everything I had been striving for over the past year. I was so focused on finding “normal” I had not considered how change could be so beneficial in times like living through a global pandemic.
When the pandemic hit Doug let all of us take a few days to go home and process so that we could come back and regroup. We knew this would hit our business hard and he wanted all of us to make sure home life was good and secure before he asked us to come back and create a plan for The Leaders Institute. When we came back to the office we sat in our lobby with a giant whiteboard and we started making lists and notes about how we were coping with a global shutdown. Some of the things that were common among all of us were that we were all trying to stick to the same schedule as if things were normal. We were getting up at the same time, eating lunch at the same time, and trying to talk ourselves into believing that the pandemic would only last a few weeks and a month at most. We clung to the hope that for sure by summer everyone would hardly remember how scary this time was. Holding on to anything that feels normal is a trauma response to help you get through and adapt to a temporary situation. It tells your brain “This is not going to last for long”. While this response can be helpful, it can also do some damage. At a certain point, you have to acknowledge that this is not temporary and that you need to adapt.
We thought that when the vaccine came out and SURELY by 2021 that life would resemble a time prior to 2020. January 2021 came and we are still wearing masks, waiting for vaccines to be distributed, observing high levels of political unrest, and there was no sense of normalcy to grasp onto. As a team, we realized and decided we needed to adapt to what was going on around us. Part of adapting is to accept what is going on and evaluate your best course of action. If you and your team have been holding on to dear life for the day that things go back to normal here is your sign that you need to stop and start accepting how change can be beneficial for you and your team. To help get you started I have created a few simple steps to make this process easy and to help take the pressure off.
Create a List of the Good and Not So Great Aspects and Practices of Your Team
You and your team have been in survival mode for so long that you probably do not see the not so great aspects of your team’s practices. You are just trying to survive and make it through each day. Take a step back and think about the issues y’all were experiencing pre-covid. To help get your thoughts flowing think about these questions.
How productive was your team?
What things were you considering to change before the pandemic?
Was there anyone you were considering firing?
Did any of your team members have tension between them?
What was/is the culture of your team?
What are the strengths of your team members?
How do those strengths fit into the structure of their roles?
How can your team be better?
At the beginning of 2021, we got together and we answered these questions. These are not easy questions to answer, but they need to be answered. As we were working through our best and not so great practices we realized that we needed to build a better structure for everyone to practice leadership and a sense of team within the roles. We wanted to bring everyone back together and move away from this feeling of isolation. After our meeting, Doug was able to create a company structure that allowed everyone to learn from someone who had more experience and to teach someone who has less experience. This way we are all contributing to team culture and allowing the opportunity for everyone to continue to grow.
Present the List of Issues to Your Team and Let Them Create the Solutions
If you were considering firing someone DO NOT bring that to the team to decide on. This is not Survivor and your company is not playing Weakest Link. If you think someone is a better fit for another part of the company or if your company is not a good fit for them go to that team member and have a discussion with them. I know that times are hard and you care about your team but you are doing them a disservice if you are not letting them go when you know it is not a good fit. You can click here to learn more about having hard conversations with your team members.
When you bring your issues to your team, you want to do it in a way that is constructive. The last thing that anyone wants is to go into a meeting and get read a laundry list of reasons as to why they suck. Here is what you can do:
1. Call a meeting, set a time limit, and honor that time frame
2. Ask your team what issues they see. Make sure everyone gives an answer. It would be a great idea to share a screen and type as they are mentioned if virtual or write them on a whiteboard if in person so that everyone can see what is being addressed. After everyone has spoken you can add in any issues that you see that no one brought up.
3. Start going through things one at a time starting from the top and ask your team how it can be solved. Work your way down until you hit the end time of the meeting. If you did not get through everything set up another meeting so that everyone can be a part of the solution.
When teams create their own solutions they are more likely to do the action you want them to do. No one wants to be outright told what to do. When COVID hit Doug could have easily called a meeting and said we needed to start pushing more content, converting our training and activities to be online, and that we need to create and promote online courses. Which is what he wanted us to do. Instead, he brought us all together and asked us what we thought we could do to help during the pandemic. Do you know what we said? We said we should create more content online, we picked which training and team building events could be the easiest to convert to virtual events, and we made a list of all the potential online courses we could create and offer. We created a game plan and then we went out and executed it. By the end of the summer, we had over 30 online courses created, everyone was writing blogs, one of our instructors published a book (you can find it here), and we were able to get several programs virtual. By 2021 we had created 3 new virtual team-building events and added in virtual one on one presentation coaching. We were able to adapt and execute because we created the solutions.
Bring Your Team Together for a Bonding Experience that Reinforces Your New Goals
Making changes and setting new goals can make some team members feel like they are not 100% how they fit in, they might feel afraid that they will not meet expectations, and there can be team members that feel like they can do a superior job and make other people feel like they are not needed. By this time you should believe and feel confident that every member of your team is needed in order to be successful. Every person on your team needs to believe that as well. The best way for your team members to see that is to have a bonding experience where they can all come together and create a team atmosphere. For example, you can book a COVID safe team building event (learn more here). A great thing about booking a team building event is that your team will learn how their role fits into the bigger picture.
When I think about teams I like to think about old-fashioned clocks because there are so many cogs and parts of a clock that have to work together. If even one of those cogs or pieces stops or gets damaged then the clock stops working. The same with your team. Your team is each part of the clock that is your company or organization. Each member is needed for your organization to be successful.
Get everyone together to have some fun and at the end close out with how this is a new start and from now on you will move forward together to become more successful, efficient, and impactful. Change can be a good thing and this could be your opportunity to have your team take it to the next level.
As a leader, you always have this desire to help your team become better. You want them to be successful. I know that answering hard questions, having hard conversations, and taking a step back to let your team create solutions can be difficult. Your team will be better for it if you create your list, meet with your team and let them create solutions to the issues they see, and then bring them together for a bonding experience that will launch them to the next level.
“Alone I am strong, together we are UNSTOPPABLE!”