Mar 17, 2021, 2:30 PM

Don’t rush head first into the future

“Now is the time to give your team the support they need to recover, readjust and move forward”

Over the past 12 months we’ve experienced a collective trauma that is like nothing seen in most of our lifetimes. Leaders and teams had to adapt overnight to remote working, income dropping overnight, managing staff into and back from furlough, supporting the staff who were left working with reduced capacity, managing change and staff wellbeing.

How that played out varies from one organisation to the next but staff in all organisations are at risk of a delayed burn-out. There is also the possibility that, after the initial honeymoon period of ‘life getting back to normal’, there will be a period of disillusionment.

So it is really important to prepare for this, to allow for a time of readjustment and to plan how you can build back better over the coming months.

What have we learnt?

It feels easy to be optimistic about the future but in reality we need to give time and space to our teams to reflect on what we’ve learnt, rest, regroup and be equipped to move forward. And there have been some valuable lessons:

  • Working remotely – it does work but you need to work hard at keeping informal connections going. Staff don’t want to go back to working full-time in the office.

  • Agile and rapid response – we can get lots done really quickly with limited resource. There is no reason why this shouldn’t continue.

  • Wellbeing is more than just yoga at lunch time – it involves a deep empathy and culture change. The need to look after staff’s wellbeing is not just a ‘lockdown’ issue, it is part of leading successful teams.

  • Your team will do their best work when they are supported, valued and trusted.

Building a resilient culture

So what can you do to set your teams up for success in the coming weeks and months?

  1. Take time to reflect and process with your team. Part of this is simply recognising that there is going to be some kind of reverse culture shock over the coming months.
  2. Acknowledge, thank and recognise the effort your team have put in practically and emotionally. Remember staff who've been on furlough, parents, people living along, those who have lost loved ones, been sick with COVID.
  3. Listen to what your teams are saying
  4. Look out for different personality types, especially those who might feel marginalised and isolated.

The new normal

What will the new normal look like? Well, no-one really knows but here are a few thoughts on what you could be doing right now.

  • Learn from working from home - Investigate how you can create a hybrid working model, enabling staff to work from home and collaborate face to face. This will involve getting hybrid communications and processes in place. Do your office desktops have cameras and speakers, for example?
  • Invest in your staff - Now is the time to give your team the support they need to recover, readjust and move forward. Consider coaching, group training and coaching programmes, team building, understanding each other through behavioural profiling tools. Keep talking, learning and understanding each other. It isn’t just about one away day or a one-off training session; this stuff is ongoing.
  • Consider new recruits - Take time to reinduct those who have joined the organisation in the past year. Have a plan for the 2020 new starters and give them a new induction.
  • Work on your growth mindset culture -  Help your team to build resilience to cope better with setbacks that might come up by:
    • Rewarding curiosity – encourage your teams to be curious, to ask deeper questions, to ask why and to step outside their comfort zones.
    • Encouraging feedback – this starts with you as a leader asking for feedback from your team.
    • Learning from failure – encourage both success and failure and create a culture where failure is not swept under the carpet but seen as an opportunity to learn.

We know that there will be a period of readjustment over the coming months; for many that is exciting, for others it is daunting. But let’s learn from the past year and set ourselves up for success in 2021 and beyond.

Emily Petty

To request a chat with Emily about building resilience in your teams, please email info@actionplanning.co.uk

Emily Petty is a fundraising and charity consultant, helping charities explore challenges and pre-pare solutions. Having drawn her experience from over 19 years working in communications, marketing and fundraising, Emily works with leaders and teams to identify how to manage change and maximise fundraising potential.