“How do I make sure my team (or me) don’t return to their old ways of working once we’re out of lockdown?” is a familiar question from many of our JMA clients right now.
Lockdown occurred all of a sudden back in March in the UK and with it came many changes in the way that people interacted with each other at work – most notably virtually – but also in a number of other ways, for instance:
- People started to ask more frequently how people were, what was going on for them and their families, demonstrating more compassion than before
- People gave each other lee way with deadlines, recognising that things would take longer to complete as people were balancing virtual working with other commitments, such as home schooling
- People were more understanding when it came to scheduling in meetings, noting that back to back day long virtual calls were not a healthy way to work, they checked-in with each other to see if the time was mutually convenient before firing off a calendar invite.
Clients have shared examples of how quickly decisions made (such as approvals for investment), how people put aside previous differences and vocally supported the work each other were doing, how a common goal unified people and meant that things got done with less friction and more speed.
In some businesses a culture of collaboration and swift decision-making among staff seemingly developed overnight.
As lockdown is relaxed it’s now a crucial task for leaders to keep these positive behaviours in play – and find ways to ensure they become the norm.
Therefore, to assist you in preparing for leading in a post lockdown world as normal operations resume within your organization, we have jotted down five key ways you can keep the good vibes going.
- Identify the behaviours to you want to keep
Write two lists to clarify your thinking and discuss them with your team. What are the behaviours you want to keep visible and what are the ones that you want to avoid returning to? What are the opinions of others? Are they in agreement with you? What if they are not? Facilitate an open conversation to reach a finalised list of behaviours that everyone can agree on – so that you have consistency around how you as a team all want to show up. ACTION: write your outcomes up as a Team Behaviour Charter. Ensure everyone has a copy. Check in on it regularly.
- Clarify readiness to maintain change
Do you and your team-members have the resources and knowledge to make the change last successfully? What do you need to help you do this? Discuss this with your team and agree what skills you need to develop, what mindsets you need to adopt, and how you’re going to hold each other to account, how you’re going to support each other – what tools in the organisation (that currently exist or need to be invented) could you use to do this?
ACTION: write up your outcomes into a Team Development Plan. Encourage accountability and action. Check in on it regularly.
- Pinpoint the barriers to change
Find out what may be preventing you and them from changing those behaviours for good? Work out what the driving forces against change might be – then come up with a plan for mitigating them! Identify obstacles ahead of time and working out a way to deal with them before they occur increases your chances of success in dealing with them.
ACTION: compete a force-field analysis together. Assign actions. Implement. Review.
- Raise awareness of the likelihood of relapse
What might encourage a return to old ways of working? Can you identify these triggers and what can you put in place to mitigate / manage these? Whose support in the wider organisation do you need? Who could be good Accountability Partners for you and your team? What could you put in place to periodically review progress?
ACTION: seek out a Coach who can facilitate a Grab Practice* for the team and coach people how to respond to their triggers with choice and autonomy.
- Celebrate success
Reward each other. Maintaining your new behaviours involves successfully avoiding former behaviours and keeping up new behaviours. Reward yourself and your team when you note that time has passed (set specific timebound goals) and that you have successfully kept your new modus operandi, your new practices, up at work.
ACTION: find, and put in place, individual and team rewards. Do it!
Remember, you will falter at some point, so when you do don’t be too hard on yourself or the team. Don’t give up. Instead, remind yourselves that it was just a minor setback. For everyone relapses are common and are a part of the process of moving forward. This will happen to you and your team. The key to success is to not let these setbacks undermine your – and your team’s – self-confidence.
Finally, don’t forget to:
- make a conscious effort (to keep your new ways of working)
- talk to people in your business (about what you are doing)
- ensure this is a common goal for the team (and all are on board)
- to regularly remind people of the value and benefits
- to role model the new behaviours yourself – embody the spirt of what you are seeking to achieve – constructive behaviours, like energy, are irresistible!
Anyone who has ever made and broken a New Year’s resolution can appreciate the difficulty of behaviour change. Maintaining a lasting change in behaviour usually involves a substantial commitment of time, effort, and emotion.
Whether you want to lose weight, stop smoking, or get your team to stay interacting in a new different way, there is no silver bullet solution. You’ll have to try several different techniques from the list above plus add in a few of your own ideas from your own experience then work through a process of trial and error achieve your goal.
Don’t get discouraged and give up! The keys to achieving and maintaining your goal of ensuring your team don’t return to their old ways post lockdown is to try new things and find ways for everyone to stay motivated.
To find out more about the maintenance phase of the Stages of Change model** and how we can help you and your team (and your whole organisation) avoid falling back into old patterns of behaviour by keeping up the good aspects of how you are working together now, reach out to us via + 44 1604 340990 or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you.
*A Grab Practice raises awareness of one’s triggers and embodied responses – also known as Conditioned Tendencies – flight, fight, freeze.
**One of the best-known approaches to change is the Stages of Change or Transtheoretical Model, introduced in the late 1970s by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente.