Updated: Oct 28
There is little doubt that the global pandemic has had an effect on everyone, for many it has been challenging and uncertain, for others it may still have been challenging but it has opened up opportunities and for others it has meant that they have had to work harder than ever ….
Businesses too are without doubt feeling the consequences. Whether they have had to worry about financial stability, understanding furlough and employee’s rights or worrying about being able to keep their people working remotely engaged and productive. It has without doubt been a challenging time.
Now some businesses may be seeing the return of employee’s to the office and workplaces, whilst others still have their people working from home, or a mixture of both and some taking the decision not to return to the office for the time being. Of course, things are constantly changing which can and is the cause of considerable confusion.
Over the last seven months many teams have been fragmented, I know of businesses where some employees have been on furlough, whilst others have been working the whole time. Those who are still working have often ended up feeling exhausted and burnt out having had to work much harder to take up the slack, and only having been paid 20% more of the salary than those on furlough. This can potentially cause feelings of resentment, particularly if they are seeing their colleagues having a seemingly easy time and enjoy life on furlough. Of course, those on furlough may also be worried sick that they may not have a job at the end of October and all they can see in their future is uncertainty.
Whatever the situation, it is vital to encourage supportive teamwork as we come through the initial phases of Covid19 and learn to start living with it or more to the point the constraints, as they are likely to be around and changing quite regularly for some time to come.
Creating a team spirit where everyone feels valued and believes that they have an important part to play in the goals and success of the team and the business is always important, but never more than now. It’s important to encourage everyone to involve themselves in their team, rather than going it alone.
Can you build a team spirit when there is a good chance that most of them are working remotely? Absolutely!! As with everything we’ve done over the last few months, it will probably take a little more creativity than normal, but then that can, and often does lead to inspiration and innovation…
Here are eight of my ideas to encourage harmony within your workplace as we continue to live with Covid-19 daily.
1. Communication is key..
Communication is something that we all take for granted but often is the thing that we get wrong in our work and personal lives, but it is vital to support effective relationships.
Whilst email, text (other forms of technological communication are available) are great ways of communicating, they should not be the only form of communication. Email however is a great way for us to let multiple people know we are available if they have a problem; whether you’re a leader, manager or a colleague.
Most of us need and appreciate a phone or video call from time to time when somebody is contacting to find out how we are.
Leaders and managers need to speak to their team members regularly (but not so regularly that it feel like you don’t trust them) particularly if they are still working remotely, just a short call to make sure they are OK and feeling connected. They should also encourage their team to keep in touch with each other. For many of us it is a matter of course to pick up the phone to our colleagues, it is important that every team member has that connection. It is equally important to realise that some people want less communication that others.
2. Build a culture of collaboration
Have clear team goals and objectives rather than personal ones….
Encourage collaboration over competition by implementing team goals and objectives so that everyone is working towards the same thing – success of the team and the business. This will help build on teams’ trust in each other and will get teams working well together and becoming more productive.
3. Regular team catch-ups
I am a great believer in regular team meetings, whether this is once a week or a quick daily “Stand Up”, whichever works best for the team and the work they are doing. It can be on-line, face to face or both, depending on your team circumstances.
Meetings do not need to be and shouldn’t be long and drawn out, they should have an agenda and a time limit, with somebody taking the chair to keep things moving and somebody taking notes, with the salient points being sent out to everyone after the meeting. Every meeting should give each team member a chance to discuss any issues they may be having, keep up to date on the business and goals, which in turn will help to boost productivity. It will also help employees to feel more part of their team, helping to create a happier and more workplace.
A great tip that I heard just this morning (thank you Aggie Matuma) is that the leader is the last to speak and listens until everyone else has finished and they speak last.
Remember too, if you have team members who are less vocal, encourage them to have their say too, it is very easy for reflectors to be overlooked, but often have some of the most insightful things to say!
4. Get social
Social events are often a great way to build relationships, this isn’t as easy as it has been in the past, so make the most of technology and have quiz nights or bingo over Zoom. The beauty of which is that potentially people with kids or are still shielding who may not normally be able to attend, are more likely to be able to from home.
5. It costs nothing to say thank you….
You may think it sound patronising, but actually saying thank you will really help to boost morale and, therefore, productivity. A little praise goes a long way, and by taking the time to just say thank you may not feel like a lot to you, but can mean a huge amount to someone else. Let's face it, those two little words cost nothing!
6. Create a gossip free culture
This can be difficult at times, but it is vital to building trust and a harmonious team. Having a no tolerance policy is a start. Businesses really need to ensure that their managers and leaders have the skills to deal with it when or if it does rear its head by creating an environment where individuals can work through any issues that they may have in a safe space. Creating a culture of openness and honesty is the way forward, this takes time and commitment and has to start at the top!
It is vitally important to team and organisational culture to nip gossiping and tittle tattle about others in the bud and stop it, after all it is a form of bullying and shouldn’t be tolerated.
7. Encourage your team to innovative
What do you do when a member of your team has an idea? If you encourage your people to voice their ideas, be innovative, develop ideas as a team who knows what it could lead to! Just by actively listening to ideas, will make an individual feel that they matter and are valued. If you enable them to try out the good ideas, again they are likely to feel more engaged in their work and take it more seriously, knowing that their voice is heard and their ideas are valued.
8. Celebrate wins
Celebrate your team members achievements to boost morale and engagement.
Something as easy as thanking particular team members for excellent work at the end of team meetings, sending out an email to the business to celebrate a win or create a simple employee of the months scheme. It doesn’t need to be big or cost a lot – often the simple things are the most effective, which may well be needed in challenging working environments. The key is that you do something to celebrating wins, a lot of people don’t like a huge fanfare, but do value having their effort recognised, you are showing your appreciation for what your team members are working hard to achieve. This will help to boost the harmony.
How harmonious is your workplace?
Without doubt there are still some tough times ahead for businesses and individuals alike, not least because in general humans don't particularly like change and boy things are changing faster now than ever. But by encouraging your people to work together will, without doubt ultimately pay dividends. As with anything that is worth having, it will take time and commitment and isn’t likely to happen overnight.
I hope that this helps you and help to bring harmony to your workplace as we move forward and continue to live with Covid-19.
There is not a one size fits all, there are many ways that you can have a harmonious work environment, but I believe one of the important things is that everybody is treated with dignity and respect.
If you would like to talk about anything related to your people, business or change in general, then get in touch today.