Around the country, vaccines are kicking in, masks are coming off, and –– sometimes slowly and sometimes suddenly –– workplaces are coming back to full force or dropping COVID-era restrictions.
But we can’t ignore that business as usual for the past year and a half has been highly unusual. To move forward, leaders will need to have open conversations, understand the mindset of their teams and take deliberate steps to connect with teams. Here are ways to build connection in the next opening phase of life and work.
Name it to tame it
Workplace psychologist Adam Grant used the word “languishing” to describe 2021 –– not quite burnout or depression but rather a “blah” feeling. The first step to overcome this collective feeling is to recognize it when you see it, and don’t be afraid to name it. Have open and honest conversations with your team, knowing that we have all been through a lot and it’s normal to not feel like you’re ready to fire on all cylinders. Then the next conversations are equally as crucial –– which leads us to what to do about it.
Help your team regain confidence
Fortunately, there are antidotes to languishing to move toward what social psychologists call “flourishing.” This is when we as humans have a sense of mastery, autonomy and purpose, which especially applies to the workplace. Leaders can help their team regain this feeling by providing projects that hit a sweet spot of their skills and the organization’s needs. Fostering wins over the long term will build confidence.
Create positive anticipation
As humans, we need something to strive for and look forward to. Anticipation creates forward motion. A goal of returning to the workplace and seeing more people on a regular basis may be a start, but it needs to go beyond a “return to normal.” Leaders can work on identifying what excites their team. Is it working with them to create a new hybrid schedule? Is it reminding them to use their vacation days, especially now that travel is resuming? Is it giving them an opportunity to take coaching sessions to help advance their career? Take the time to identify what each member of your team finds energizing to build momentum.
Finally, recognize that it will take time to rebuild and strengthen connection after this past year. Building rapport means treating your own people with respect and attention. It could mean joining a workplace virtual trivia team, asking a colleague to meet for coffee, or sending an email with a note of gratitude. It can take many forms depending on your style, but the end result is deepened trust and understanding with those who work together. It’s an investment that will pay compound interest over time.
At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.
For more information, contact Steph Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org