There isn’t an industry, organization, team or person which hasn’t experienced some level of disruption or change in recent times. Nobody is immune to it: shifting organizational priorities, mergers, adopting new technologies, or changing processes to suit your global footprint. Whatever it is, it’s likely that some form of change is a constant in your workplace.
As a leader, it’s your job to insulate your team from feeling the full effect of everything that’s going on around them. This will allow them to focus on getting the job done, hitting targets, meeting deadlines, and edging the organization ahead of the competition task by task, and project by project.
But just how do you create a safe workplace culture, in which everyone feels able to thrive as part of a high-performing team?
Onboard with intention
Recruiting the best talent takes a lot of resource; it’s a big investment in terms of both time and money to bring someone new into the team. That’s why onboarding them effectively is key. At Insights we tackle this in a variety of ways, but on Day One we make sure we consider these four things and implement plans accordingly:
How to make sure the newbie has all the information – passwords, handbooks, etc - - - they’ll need on Day One and beyond
Enabling them to hit the ground running with the right tech, meetings with the right people and with the right goals in mind
Giving them a buddy who they can share their questions, ideas and worries with
Making them a part of the family! Invite them to social events and team days right from the start
Understand personalities and preferences
As a leader it’s your job to make it clear that everyone in the team is unique, and has a particular and innate set of preferences for how they work and communicate. Some team development, beginning with a personality preference profile which explains every individual’s preferences and behaviors, can really help the team to walk a mile in each other’s shoes. Beyond improving collaboration, this boosts the empathy and human understanding in the team, especially when someone hits the wall and driven by stress levels might display what we call ‘bad day’ behaviors that would usually have colleagues running for the door.
Sometimes it does everyone good to turn away from their desks, put the task-list to one side, and focus on what really matters – people. Time spent together, not focused on work, can lead to a much more human, authentic team climate, which is critical to high performance. With the right climate, people can be honest and transparent with each other, feel safe to make mistakes and put them right again, ask tough questions of you as the leader, and find strength in acting as one, rather than a band of individuals each focusing on their own priorities.
Spread the love
It’s important to find small but human ways to show your appreciation for those around you – and encourage your team to do the same. Maybe you all take turns to spotlight a colleague’s efforts in your weekly meetings; sometimes it’s nothing more than a heartfelt ‘thank you so much, your hard work doesn’t go unappreciated’ at the end of a tough day. As a recent example, on Valentine’s Day some of our colleagues sent little ‘I love working with you because’ notes to someone who made the difference for them – and you can take inspiration from upcoming celebrations and holidays too to keep the motivation of your team at its best.
Acknowledge the human in you
Leaders can come in for a lot of criticism from their team, and while it doesn’t feel great to you, that doesn’t mean they may not have a point sometimes. If you can let your team speak freely, even though it may sting a little, you’ll sets the tone for an honest team that’s accountable to each other. If you can listen well, reflect on the criticisms, and make changes where they need to be made, your team can learn a lot from you about delivering under pressure.
At the same time you’ll show up as the real human leader they need you to be. Someone who is just like them – trying but flawed, committed but inconsistent, determined to deliver but occasionally distracted. Sometimes, in creating a culture of safety, the very best thing you can be is openly, humbly, human - and lets others be human too.