If you are leading a team, you will know that it can be very challenging to ensure that your team members are engaged, performing and taking care of their wellbeing. This is particularly true when you are leading teams remotely, since you do not have full visibility of how your people are really doing.
One of the solutions we recommend for team leaders, is to plan a team building event and identify new approaches that will help the team meet its goals without burning out. We refer to these as quick wins.
In an ideal situation, this conversation works best at an off-site team building event where sufficient time is allowed to discuss the topic. However, if your team is remote, the process can still work virtually. You may achieve even better results when you engage a skilled independent facilitator to lead the conversation in a very open and honest way.
The process involves coaching the team to think about where they are wasting time or losing energy. From these insights we draw out ideas for how the team can work better in the future.
What teams have done to build resilience.
Below, are some examples of quick wins that teams have identified previously:
1. Nail the priorities. When team members are honest about their current priorities it frequently becomes clear that they are different to the stated team priorities. Pet projects have crept in or demanding stakeholders have asked for one-off favours. The cumulative effect of these deviations makes for a chaotic leakage of team focus and energy. A great quick win involves scaling back on those non-essential tasks and projects and recommitting to the goals that the team’s success is measured on.
2. Strict ground rules for emails. Late emailing can be particularly problematic when trying to ensure proper sleep patterns. Sleep is super important for recharging your team’s batteries and should be protected at all costs. By committing to appropriate times for email communication, team members are not tempted to check their devices in the evenings (or weekends) and can therefore switch off better.
3. No lunchtime meetings. One team recognised that they were scheduling too many meetings between 12 and 2pm. As a result, they frequently didn’t stop for lunch. They committed to having proper downtime during the lunch period and no one was expected to attend future meetings during these hours. This allowed them to connect with family, take exercise or eat a healthy meal. They reported being more creative and productive in their afternoons as a result.
4. Adopting new mindsets when faced with a challenge. One team agreed on a ground rule where it became acceptable to discuss any challenge on the condition that they or their colleagues could turn the challenge into a learning opportunity or a performance opportunity. This prevented them from getting bogged down in negativity and allowed them to stay creative.
5. Using Realistic Optimism when embarking on tasks and projects. One team had been guilty of setting unrealistic goals and then falling short when challenges arose. This pattern eventually became very inefficient and demotivating. At their team building event, they decided to adopt a principle of ‘realistic optimism’. This meant that when they discussed a new project, they set an expectation that it would work out well but accepted that it wouldn’t necessarily be easy. It was a subtle yet powerful way to get better results.
In addition to generating more effective ways of working, we have observed that these discussions can be very energising. They can provide a great boost to teams who have been deenergised or have been struggling for some time.