Amazing If's Sarah Ellis looks at how to boost your team's bounce in the first of a three part series on how to give your team what it needs right now.
Our mojo impacts our motivation. And our energy is catching. We are all both a source of energy and a recipient of other people’s energy (this is sometimes described as relational energy). As Karen Mattison (MBE) co-founder of Timewise shares: "People divide into drains and radiators. Surround yourself with the radiators and the journey will be much more fun and productive.’"
Now that the majority of people are working at home we need to find new ways to create and share sources of energy with each other. And though there’s no one size fits all approach to building bounce (as everyone has different working styles, needs and personalities) there are practical actions leaders can take to give teams the support they need.
These are moments within a week designed to give everyone a collective lift and sense of progress and achievement. At Amazing If we often use 'win of the week' – where we ask everyone in our team to share their win, and it can be personal or professional. And this doesn’t have to be on a Friday, as this may exclude people working a 4-day week, perhaps try a Mid-Week Win at the start of every Wednesday.
Pro-actively encourage people to design their days to suit their own natural energy highs/lows. Role modelling is particularly powerful to make this happen so if you’re a leader set an example by sharing how you're trying to design your own day. For example: I'm not a morning person so I start the day with a walk, 10-12 I aim for 'monk mode' (deep focused work with a break for coffee in the middle), then I spend two hours with Max, my toddler and try to schedule calls and emails for the afternoons. It's also important to acknowledge the 'reality gap' that will exist for many people between the ideally designed day and where you might be by 6pm! Encourage people to make what Susan David (who researches emotional resilience) calls 'tiny tweaks', small changes to every day to help you stand a better chance of success.
Most of us will be experiencing more frequent and new types of low points in their day and weeks. The answer is not to eliminate the lows but instead to focus on how you can support people to bounce-back. This might be done by reminding someone of their successes or making sure that an individual is spending enough time using their strengths. And one of the most important questions a leader can ask is always: what can I do to support you right now? Too often we jump into action and solution mode in a desire to be helpful whereas what someone might need from you right now is to listen.
As Daniel Pink points out in his TED talk The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us one of the three things that motivates us the most is the opportunity to learn and create new things (one of the others is the need to direct our own lives see 'design your day' action). Explore opportunities for your teams to learn together. This could be as simple as all listening to the same podcast episode (individually) and then chatting about it at the start of a team meeting. Or having a different 'meerkat moment' each week where you try out a new way of virtual learning together. There is lots of high quality, sometimes free and usually affordable live learning out there and I’ve included a list with a few of my favourites at the end of the article.
Showing gratitude to each other is another great way to boost everyone’s mood. And go beyond encouraging people to say thank you. Move from generic praise 'that was great', 'thanks that was brilliant' to specific shout outs 'that presentation was fab, you told really memorable stories' or 'that meeting was really useful because you had really thought about how to make sure everyone in the team was listened to.' It's also important to create gratitude habits as the research shows it takes repetition to reap the positive rewards (including improving our mental health, learning and better decision making) that come from saying thank you.
Sarah Ellis is the co-author of the No.1 The Sunday Times business bestseller The Squiggly Career and host of the UK’s no.1 careers podcast: Squiggly Careers. She is the co-founder of Amazing If, a business with a mission to make work better for everyone and was a previous Chair of Judges for the IPA CPD Gold Awards.