As teams move back to the office, either fully or in a hybrid working arrangement, how have the norms and the ‘way we do things around here’ changed? How is this playing out in teams?
Without a doubt, the last few years have seen huge shifts in the way we work. For some, working from home has the best thing and become extremely comfortable – some in the team might even say far too comfortable! While others have struggled for numerous reasons and want to be back in the office 110%.
Psychologist Bruce Tuckman came up with Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing back in his 1965 paper, “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups”, later adding Adjourning. Just like the seasons, teams go through stages – things are forever changing.
Is your team in the storming stage?
As the team come back together in the office, it can take time for the team to ‘get back in the groove’ again. It could be that tensions are showing up or are heightened as the team reaches the Storming stage. People may push boundaries and unresolved conflict and friction can rise to the surface. People at different life stages could have different needs, and react differently. New members may have joined the team, and working from home, or remote work, might be the only thing they know. It can be like going back to the beginning as people get reacquainted and settle in.
At this stage it is super important that roles and responsibilities are clear, while being agile around change.
Resilient teams are robust – there is shared purpose, meaning and goals within the team. There needs to be a focus on productivity plus wellbeing (not one or the other), as this mitigates against burnout. Sustainable performance is imperative and care for people integral, with a sense of support and belonging promoting retention.
Getting below the waterline
Sometimes it is down to people’s perceptions, and what is really happening is far from the truth of the situation. This is when as a leader, you need to get below the waterline, and get clear on what is really going on.
Above the waterline
What are we observing. The stuff that’s external, visible, out in the open. What’s happening, or not happening, above the waterline
It’s also about harnessing team strengths and resources while maintaining solution focused thinking and and a curious mindset.
Below the waterline
The stuff that’s internal, invisible, hidden, or not fully revealed. What’s going on that could be contributing to the situation.
Here are some discussion starters to use in a team session, to get the conversation going.
- As a team, are we above the line or below it – are we curious and open or defensive and closed off?
- What rewards or maintains the status quo?
- How are difficult issues reframed and perspective gained?
Or reframe these and use as a reflective question for yourself as a leader.
If this sounds all too familiar (and maybe even overwhelming) then we’d love to see if we can help you.
Let’s find solutions that are both effective and sustainable for you and your people.
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