One of the most glorious things about working in a team is that everyone is different.
One of the most challenging things about working in a team is that everyone is different.
Both of these statements are true.
Tricky, isn’t it?
And then we add a global pandemic into the mix.
Some of your staff may have been furloughed. Some may have been working from home. Some may have been working on-site. These business decisions, driven by operational need, are likely to have caused additional issues.
Are those on furlough perceived by those who aren’t as ‘having it easy’ and getting paid to watch Netflix? Are those who are working on-site perceived as ‘having it easy’ because they don’t have to deal with home-schooling, or tolerate the boredom and mental health challenge of staying at home with nothing constructive to do?
What does that mean for how your team is (or isn’t) working?
The ‘new normal’
Everyone keeps talking about ‘the new normal’, but what will it look like for your team?
Understanding how groups of people work and behave can be at the heart of understanding the world around us – understanding things like: how and why Covid-19 is spreading; how racism perpetuates; why Captain Sir Tom Moore raised over £30m; why people sing in choirs – virtual or real; and why petitions and peaceful protest are so important.
As humans, we crave a sense of belonging. It’s a fundamental need, just like the need for food and shelter. Depriving people of the freedom to be physically with their groups has been one of the most difficult parts of lockdown for many. The potential negative impact on mental health (and physical health) has been one of the key drivers in the decisions governments across the world are taking to bring people out of lockdown.
So how can we make our teams happy and productive in the new normal?
To get different people working together successfully, it’s about seeking out the same. There is far more that makes us the same than makes us different.
- We may have different ways of working (remote, flexible, on-site) – but we’re all working towards the same thing
- We may be working in different ways – but every situation has its advantages and disadvantages, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side
- We may have different functions at work – but we all bring something different and important to the team
- We may be different shapes, sizes and colours – but we are human
- We may be different faiths (or none) – but we can share fundamental values like kindness and honesty
I love cheese. I have friends who hate cheese. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends (even though I still think it’s really weird to not like cheese!), because we have so much else in common.
The ‘new normal’ is a place we are going to find together
As I see it, many teams are presented with a huge opportunity right now. A time to review what works and what doesn’t work in their teams, and to choose the best bits to take forward into the future.
No doubt there will be changes, and change can be unsettling. But by discussing it honestly, and sharing our perspectives, teams can actually find themselves stronger ‘on the other side’.
Let’s start the conversation.