I spoke to several leaders last week here is a gist of what people are saying...
“I’ve had the hardest week of my career.”
“I feel like I’m going to break down - I’m not sure what is going on.”
“I’m exhausted and feeling really unwell.”
“I need to let go of the detail and support my team to make more decisions and drive things forward but we’ve been in crisis mode for the past year so I’m not sure how to drive this forward.”
"I'm excited and energised about what is to come but I know some people in my team are burnt out."
Whether you are feeling exhausted or energised I think it is really important to recognise that we have been through a crazy year. But we can’t dwell there. We need to work out how we can move forward. It’s not as simple as just stopping stuff or taking a break or just keeping on pushing forward.
I’ve identified three stages we need to go through both individually and teams. These stages can be linear or iterative and they relate to you personally and how you support your team.
Reflection is the process of looking back in order to move forward. The chances are we’ve all learnt a huge amount in the past 12 months. It is time to take a moment to acknowledge what has been achieved and the pace at which many have been working in the face of huge challenges.
Step One: Reflect personally. Before entering into a team reflection process it is really important to understand what has been going on for you and where you are at right now. You might be full of energy and optimistic or you might be in the midst of struggle. That’s ok it’s just important to acknowledge your emotions in order to help you move forward.
TAKE ACTION: If you need tools to help you I love Liz and Mollie - their tools help you acknowledge your feelings and put a path forward.
Step Two: Reflect as a team. Recognise and thank your team for the effort they put in despite personal challenges. Take time to really acknowledge what everyone has achieved and been through. This could be one collective moment but it could also be weekly opportunities to keep looking back. Like with your personal reflection it is important to acknowledge emotions and allow people to have different emotions right now. Some may be optimistic and highly motivated by restrictions easing others may be overwhelmed and struggling.
TAKE ACTION: A simple way to reflect is to use check in questions that help people reflect. You could simply ask people to share one thing they are really proud of achieving in the last 12 months and share how it makes them feel when they look back at this. You could do a more formal learning session where you look at what you did differently, where you took risks, what went well, what could have been even better. So you capture the learnings from the year and make a plan for how you are going to do things differently as a result.
We need some time to recover - time to quieten our minds and in some cases stop. I’m personally at the recover stage and I’m taking the Easter holidays off to recover - even now I'm consciously slowing down. It is also important to note that recover could mean taking action to help your team identify what is the most important thing you need to do. It could mean committing to learning, reading or listening to podcasts. Recovery is different for everyone.
As a team it is important to allow individual recovery time. Who in your team really does need to stop? How can you help them do this?
As a group recovery is about spending time together - this is particularly important to think about in relation to whether there has been any lost connections. As COVID restrictions ease, how can you connect in real life and perhaps re-induct new staff members?
As you recover you will start to look at the pace at which you’ve been working. When you look at this and ask - what needs to change? How can you set boundaries and expectations on how you work together to enable this recovery so that you can use what you’ve learnt in reflection to change how you work?
From a place of recovery it is time to rebuild. Personally it is important to take time to make sure that what you are doing is aligned with your values and strengths and you have the tools in place to help you rebuild your personal resilience and your teams. It's also about shifting perspectives - taking time to focus less on output but more on helping your team find their purpose and love what they do.
There are some great exercises you can uses personally - try these for starters
Rebuild how you work together - you may need to have focused time to look at this or you might want to spread this out over a few months. It is important that you relook at your team values and purpose, what strengths and weaknesses you have in your team. How do you meet and communicate? How do you make decisions?
Here are three tools that you might find useful. But remember they are only tools - if you want to rebuild a culture and a team that is connected and where people are safe to fail it takes time. An away day is only the start of a process. (digging the foundations if you want to use the building metaphor) If you manage a team the culture that you want to rebuild is set by you, your team will watch what you say and how you behave. That's why you need to go through the reflect-recover-rebuild journey yourself in order to be able to help your team.
I’ve developed a Reflect - Recover - Rebuild programme for teams or 1-2-1 coaching. So if you're looking to ensure that you learn from the past 12 months and are equipped to succeed moving forward and want to discuss how I can help drop me a line at [email protected].
PS If you found this helpful and want a chance to hear more about how you can take steps to REFLECT - RECOVER - REBUILD then join me on Thursday at 9.30am for a Learning to Lead Live in our facebook group Stepping up and Leading with Confidence