5 Ways Your Team Can Get Stronger During the Pandemic

Posted by Andy Holmes on Wed, Sep 16, 2020 @ 07:31 AM

The future of work has arrived. While remote work technologies have been available to companies with the advancement of technology, no one was expecting to be forced into leveraging the internet, zoom, email and cloud based software to this level. Work won’t ever be the same again. The mass amount of remote work that has been thrust onto the country has resulted in innovation on how companies and teams get things done. Many companies are finding that remote work is cheaper and even more productive in some cases.

Many workers and entrepreneurs have taken their productivity to new levels during this time. Teams that used to meet in the office daily have now gone months without meeting in person. The pandemic brought to light many work norms that weren’t actually serving productivity, as teams are getting things done without being in the office 9 to 5.

Teams have been forced to get inventive, problem solve their way through the pandemic and some of them have even gotten better at what they do. Here are 5 ways your team can get stronger during the Pandemic.

One - Build Accountability

Many team leaders have wondered: “How do I make sure my team is being productive.” Without the sugar coat, they are really asking themselves how they make sure their team members aren’t sleeping in until noon and playing Xbox at 3 in the afternoon when they should be working.

A good strategy is to make goals, outcomes and deadlines clear. If everyone on the team is made aware of project goals, targets that need to get made, expected outcomes and the deadlines that must get met then a lot of the “policing” can stop. Why should team leaders care what workers do in the afternoon, as long as deadlines are being met and projects are being completed in a timely fashion.

Deadlines create accountability. Set the deadlines so your team can make them. Don’t focus on controlling their schedules. 

Accountability can also be delegated amongst peers. Make all deadlines and targets known to the whole team. Make multiple workers responsible for single targets so they are forced to hold each other accountable and get things done. Teams should also be bringing their reports on the progress of their projects to meetings so everyone can be kept in the loop. Also, an employee knowing he will have to report to the whole team on this progress at the next meeting gives him incentive to finish up.

Any work on accountability over the Pandemic will carry over into the future so it is effort well spent. 

Two - Build Agility and Creativity

Team Management can err on the side of being too stringent and structured. Long painful meetings, annual planning and countless other mundane “supposed to’s” of the corporate world can stifle agility and creativity.

There are other ways of doing things. Just because work has been done a certain way for years, doesn’t mean it should continue to be done that way. 

One way to force agility and creatively amongst a team is to throw antiquated business practices out the window. A good, modern strategy which aligns with our first tip of Accountability is to meet with a team one a week. In this meeting, set deadlines for the following week to create a 7 day sprint of work. At the end of each day during the sprint, have team members answer the following questions in an email: What have I done today? What do I need help with? What am I going to work on tomorrow?

Operating on daily and weekly timelines forces speed into a team. Projects get done faster and problem solving starts to organically occur at a rapid pace. 

Daily, weekly and monthly sprints can be built based on company priorities. If things are going off track, a team can be assessed and tweaks can be made to get things going again. 

Three - Empathy

We are all different at home than in the workplace. At work, we might wear a suit, never curse and always smile. At home, we wear pajamas all weekend and curse like a sailor.

As the months have rolled by during the Pandemic, our professional faces have eroded. We’ve seen our boss’s living rooms full of dirty laundry and our peers trying to act professional on Zoom while their kids crawl over their laps. Prior to the Pandemic showing up to an important meeting with a screaming baby would have been completely unacceptable, but with everyone being forced to work from home managers are laughing these things off.

People seem to have more empathy during this time. Because let’s face it...as trite and cliche as it sounds...we are all on this together. 

Empathy is becoming an integral part of work life. The Pandemic has forced us all to understand each other as the walls between professional and personal life have shattered. Team leaders should make it a point to start meetings with conversations that get people relaxed. Don’t dive straight into the nuts and bolts of the job. Ask how the family is doing and encourage open communication. 

Practicing empathy can never be done too much and it’s always a good time to start working on it. Empathy will make your team stronger, closer and ultimately able to tackle the challenges they face in the workplace as a unit.

Four - Co-Creation

Believe it or not, remote work can drive greater collaboration. Many workers don’t feel comfortable speaking in public and won’t take any risk in a formal meeting. They might read off their normal work reports and pass the floor to someone else after a couple minutes. Zoom meetings can be more controlled and made much more safe for people to communicate.

Oftentime, in formal business meetings, the Team Leader or Manager does the bulk of the talking while the team listens. This can turn into long winded power points or discussions about possible new markets. Zoom should be leveraged to open the floor up for opinion, questions and collaboration. You might be surprised who will speak up and offer a creative solution during a Zoom meeting. 

The key to getting all the creative juices out of each member of the team is to not think of yourself as the center of the team. Part of being a Team Leader is to ask the right questions. Ask questions that demand workers to think outside the box and problem solve. Also, ask targeted questions to pull out their “real” answers. If you suspect someone has something to voice, but they aren’t saying it due to discomfort, look for ways to artfully pull it out of them. The answer might be to open the doors to all kinds of creative ways to expand the business.

Five - Generosity

We have all been affected by the Pandemic. Some of us more than others. Personally, I’ve heard the words “How can I help?” more than ever over the past few months. There seems to be a real commitment to taking care of people.

This genuine concern for others also has a place in the workplace. Make it a point to ask your workers how they are doing. Encourage them to be in constant communication with one another and to help one another with their projects and ideas. When employees actively help one another it does wonders for employee engagement. Teams that are left to their own devices and aren’t led by management to care for one another drop in production.

A simple way to encourage generosity as a behavioral norm is routinely ask employees “What can any of us do to be of service or help to you?” Asking this question in a group setting after an employee reports or presents can mean the difference between someone feeling like the team cares about him or doesn’t.

 

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Topics: web-based mentoring