Intentions aren’t actions
Remember when we used to say use email to back up what we’ve said in person because there is so much that can be misinterpreted?
And remember it was because there may not be context, or subtlety available in written form to support the intended message?
Well, I actually think we need to remember this in our physical distancing (I’m not calling it social distancing anymore). Using phone, email, chat, even Zoom or Facetime can mean that we’re still missing the social cues we have in person that facilitates effective and meaningful connection.
So, let’s be careful. Let’s be deliberate and mindful.
Because when it comes to our teams, our intentions are not necessarily the same as our actions. Our actions are how we’re judged by others. Our intentions are how we judge ourselves. They’re not always aligned.
Let team members know that you’re thinking of them by making your communication specific to them
Send a message that relates to them, their family situation, their recent win, their recent challenge. But specific to them. Send them a card in the mail. Let them know what it is about them being a part of the team that you appreciate.
Invite them to ask for help. Make it not only okay, but an expectation.
Healthy psyches ask for help when they need it. Not just emotional support, not just technical support. Just when they need another brain, ear, heart or perspective. It calls for self awareness and trust in the team and in you, their leader that when they reach out, someone will be there. Encourage a culture of support, where everyone helps and everyone asks for help at some stage.
Send your team a snack pack in preparation for your next informal team hangout or send them a pack of tea or coffee in preparation for your next team meeting.
Getting little surprises in the mail can mean a treat in a routine that is otherwise reasonably predictable
Monitor signs that suggest that other more formal forms of support may be required.
Some team members are confined to home environments they look forward to escaping from with work for a whole host of reasons. Make time with your team to talk through all of the support services you can plug them into should they ever need them. Signs might include a decline in output, inaction, frustration/anger/negativity from a usually benign or positive team member, comments about not sleeping. Go offline and discuss personally.
Give your team the bigger picture about the company direction and then what that means for them as a team and for them as individuals.
Provide as much certainty as you can. Context matters. Enable them to join the dots and have hope. Don’t leave uncertainty hanging. While there may be lots you simply don’t know, focus on what you do know. Hope matters.
SIX: Give them structure.
Targets of activity, a learning outcome each week, a focus for them to prepare for the team meeting, an action for your one on one meeting. Structure provides certainty, and relieves them from needing to do this for themselves, with varying ability levels when you combine stress, fear and uncertainty. Get team members to share their daily routines with one another to see how others do what they do.
SEVEN: Ask for feedback.
Ask your team what else they need from you? Ask them what that enables them to do. Ask them how well you’re delivering that to them. Ask them about the difference that makes. Don’t assume no feedback is good. Silence isn’t always golden. People may be worried about their job security so they’re even less likely to take action that they may perceive as rocking the boat. Reach out.
Intentions aren’t the same as actions.
Taking action however, gives you a greater likelihood of matching your insides (intentions) with those outcomes (results). Your team needs you now more than ever.