As we start to realise this pandemic might be here for the medium, rather than the short term, we inevitably need to look at ways to bring our colleagues back together, in a way that is acceptable and welcoming.
I’m sure that we’ve all experienced significant changes in the way we go about our daily lives. If you cast your mind back to when we first went into lockdown, we were keen to comply with restrictions for our own safety, and for the safety of those around us.
What motivates us more than compliance?
In the weeks that followed lockdown we complied with willingness, but you might have noticed how, after a period of time, the rules began to be challenged, possibly because of mixed messaging, possibly because people started questioning the reasons behind the restrictions or possibly also just disagreement with the rationale.
So how long can we rely on Compliance to Motivate our behaviour?
And what does this have to do with bringing the team back together?
The benefits of bringing the team together are many, a sense of cohesiveness, sharing of workload, camaraderie and the power of collective problem solving and not least, alignment on projects and future direction.
But before you set off bringing the team back in ask the question, does everyone see it that way? Is it really necessary to have everyone together or is it just a desire to ‘return to normal’? The new model of working will involve more flexibility, less reliance on being present in the workplace and it actually presents us with an opportunity to do things a little differently.
How are people feeling?
Getting under the skin of people’s thoughts, feeling and beliefs helps us understand how people feel about returning to work, what they might be concerned about and what arrangements they are happy to adopt. Listening to and understanding these views will mean you can begin to make it feel safe to come back to work, be it into an office, warehouse or customer site.
If I understand why I’m being asked to return and it makes sense, I’m more likely to act.
As Simon Reeve, travel writer and TV presenter once said;
‘People don’t change when you tell them they should, people change when they tell themselves they must’
Working with people to decide about things like seating arrangements, how they maintain their distance and whether for example, they need to wear masks, gives people the opportunity to be part of the solution.
Clear messaging provides guidance about why, what’s expected and how to work in the new arrangements.
We’ve seen a variety of ways countries and organisations have handled messaging, to varying degrees of success! Japan for example during the pandemic adopted a simple message, the 3 C’s;
Avoid – Close Contact, Crowded Areas and Closed Spaces
Whilst not advocating this as a way to bring teams together it is an example of giving people the opportunity to make their own informed decisions about how to behave, but within a framework.
Consider your messaging – is it clear, does it explain why, and does it give people the opportunity to decide how the guidance applies to them?
Lead in both the Glastonbury and the Avalon
The Mclane Group describe the importance of leading in the Glastonbury and the Avalon, the mystical kingdom full of the intangible; the feelings, emotions and dreams of the team.
Examples of leading in the ‘Glastonbury’ would be your approach to organising the office, social distancing or balancing homeworking with office work. Whereas leading in the ‘Avalon’ is about how you listen, respect and act on the views of your team. The leadership shadow you cast will reassure and inspire others to follow your example.
One won’t work without the other, and if you get both right, well maybe you can find your own Avalon!