This unprecedented time is the ‘best’ and the ‘worst’ of times for teams to excel. What is paramount for teams is to recalibrate their purpose, shared goals and compelling direction. Based on my research, the horizon is closer as medium-term became short-term due to uncertainty. By working iteratively and over communicating in a variety of ways, teams can ensure that capacity and relationships are nurtured, drawing upon strengths and recalibrating as needed in a timely manner.
Personal perspectives are paramount
Teams need to remember that each member will be living a different experience of COVID-19; some may move quickly from denial to experimenting and thriving in change creatively, whilst others may struggle with working from home in isolation, or with children and space impacting their focus. The key is to create an environment of psychological safety to enable all team members to be heard during online meetings. I would also recommend spending longer than usual at the start of meetings ‘checking-in’, because the banter and short conversations that usually happen when colleagues gather in person need to still happen to support connection at a human level. One way of doing this is informal gatherings, such as an ‘online’ coffee break at set time. This also support structure for team members who find working away from the office impacts their concentration and prioritisation.
Accountability is key
Teams need to stay accountable to each other and there are numerous project management programmes that allow this to happen easily. Positive disruption, ensuring that all voices are heard, that challenges delivery in the right way, and that diversity is used as a strength, and supports high performing teams. If there is no challenge, there is false harmony, which is not productive. Adaptability and interdependence create solutions to our ‘new normal’ whilst staying compassionate.
“What each will be able to attend to will vary, and what each will allow to come into awareness will be different”
(Edward Nevis, 2007)
Work with a wide lens focus
What is also essential right now is for teams to use a wide lens so that they explore the systemic needs of their internal and external stakeholders. If teams work from the outside in, they will surely be addressing what is needed in the wider system and field of their work. It is also a time to reach out to suppliers, customers, regulatory authorities and beyond, to really ‘hear’ and understand things from their perspective. Questions to consider include:
- What is the quality and quantity of relationship between the team and stakeholders?
- What are the messages you want to give the stakeholders?
- What does the team need to pay attention to in order to better support stakeholders’ needs?
- What conversations does your team avoid that would be beneficial to?
- What strengths will the team draw upon to be even more successful right now and for the immediate future?
- What ways can team leadership be effectively shared?
Learning as a team is critical
I challenge your team to prepare in time to focus upon the ‘7Cs of critical learning’. Why? There is so much that we are learning now as teams, and we need to ensure that the learning is shared, captured, capitalised upon and catapulted into the future, so that when we are faced with volatility, disruption and uncertainty, we can be even more resilient by using our generative learning from this present time.
The 7Cs of Critical Learning are
- Curious and creative in approaches to learning
- Consistently create opportunities to learn collectively
- Consciously capture the learning
- Cultivating knowledge share
- Capitalising on the learning
- Catapult the learning forward
- Celebrate the small steps and the giant leaps
Be interdependent, celebrate the small steps and the great wins. Most importantly is to reflect upon and apply the learning of this present situation to benefit the whole system!
Driscoll, J., (2007) Practicing Clinical Supervision: A Reflective Approach for Healthcare Professionals. 2md ed. Edinburgh: Bailliere Tindall Elevier
Hawkins, P., (2014) leadership team Coaching: Developing reflective transformational leadership, Kogan Page