Let’s talk, how you are individually reintegrating back into the office.
Are you looking forward to transitioning back into the office?
Maybe you have started coming into the office and find it to be completely unproductive.
Being called into last minute meetings, chit chat water cooler talk, catch up with colleagues and not to mention the amount of time you are being interrupted.
The stats don’t look pretty…. once interrupted it takes 25 minutes to regain the same level of focus and concentration you were at before you were interrupted.
How many times are you bring interrupted during an office day?
No wonder there is resistance moving back to working from the office, it is frustrating as you have a list of things to complete, only for the day to get derailed.
There is an answer to this problem…
Before covid I found the same problem when consulting, I had one day at best in the office, the rest of the week I was out either delivering, coaching, or consulting.
I had a long list of things I needed to get done before client meetings and coaching sessions, only to get derailed or distracted by the hum of the office environment, leaving me with hours of work to do when I eventually got home.
The days in the office are going to be less productive for deep work; the more we put pressure on ourselves the more stress we create and that is not good for deep work, creativity and decision making.
When you are stressed, cortisol starts circulating around your system, which has a negative influence on prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is the executive function of the brain; the one responsible for thoughts, behaviour, and emotions (decision making, creativity and focus). As it starts to inhibit the prefrontal cortex we have weaker control of our thoughts, emotions, and actions; meaning we are not in the most optimal state to be making decisions, being creative or completing deep focussed work as we are in a heightened state of survival.
It is complex and involves more than the PFC. I’m over simplifying it and you can read more about this article from Anchorage press.
Cortisol can be good for short bursts of life and death situations. However, when activated for long periods such as uncertainty, work pressure, tight deadlines etc. it will have long term negative health impacts such as depression, anxiety, tension, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
I’m not doing this justice, you can read the article from the Mayo clinic to find out more.
Have a purpose of what you would like to achieve, be realistic about the types of work you can complete in the office.
Schedule your deep work for times at home when you can work without distraction.
Stick to transactional work, like emails or WIPs or project check-ins
Network. This is an opportunity to meet colleagues and build relationships
Develop a stakeholder power map; identify who in the organisation you need to build your brand and influence with to progress projects, pieces of work and get buy in from.
If you don’t take control of what you can influence, you will be at the whim of others, and it will increase the stress and anxiety of transitioning back to the office.
You are not going to be as productive or focused initially when your return to the office, but once you have accepted this it will free up your headspace to be more intentional and purposeful with your time and energy. In return, you will gain clarity and focus on better organisational outcomes, not to mention better health outcomes.
If you are finding yourself feeling anxious, unproductive, or lacking focus click the link here to schedule a strategy call, we can create a plan to help you integrate back into a hybrid work environment, lower stress levels and increase focus. Alternatively, if you know someone who would benefit from talking to someone about this, share the link.
No obligation or sales chat, just practical advice.
After what seems like years we are finally returning to the office, and for some it has been a long time coming and for others there is angst and maybe a little anxiety returning to the office.
One thing to note is not everyone will react the same,
While others love the office environment, others have gotten use to working from home.
Some of the team will be new and you have never met them face to face, for them it is a first day of work again.
As a leader you may want to see everyone back in the office because that’s where everyone needs to be and you can cut down on the email and teams chats.
Maybe you even have an office and that is a better environment than being at home, but that is not the same for everyone.
The reality for most is…..
The office is going to be a very unproductive experience, with open plan desks, other people talking, chatting about other things apart from work and not to mention,
‘let’s grab a meeting room quickly for a meeting’.
Before you know it, the day has gone and you have the dreaded commute home with the traffic, trains and being in close proximity to other people.
Is there an expectation to work on the train if you leave early answering emails and completing the work you should have done in works time, or is this still works time?
No doubt we are all different, so we will have to take a slightly different approach with each person to manage the reintegration back to the office environment.
How do you manage all the complexity that comes with this?
One word be ‘intentional’ when it comes to your leadership.
I have put together a couple of strategies to consider to maximise your results
Call a team meeting to discuss the following:
Vision, mission, strategy and where the team fit in
Welcome new members, introduce team goals, chart progress
Acknowledge the transition back
Core office hours
Expectations of working in the office and remotely
Understand ways of working or working styles
Accept lower productivity (for a time, while staff re acquaint themselves back into the ways of working)
Clarify communications for meetings, 1:1’s, informal and formal interactions (teams, chat, zoom or face to face, etc)
When you are not in the office how are we going to communicate to make sure no one is missing out on the discussion.
Dress, what do we wear? (What is and what isn’t appropriate)
Set up your 1:1 conversations with each member of staff. Preferably face to face to maximise the time spent in the office to network and build relationships. These can be adapted further down the track to virtual if it works best.
Performance management discussions. Take time to sit down with each member to discuss performance, expectations, goals, kpi’s and targets. Consider a performance agreement, it should be a 2 way discussion not a one way being told what they must do.
This may all seem a bit overkill.
The reality is, this approach will create certainty with your team members, cut down the mental toll of overthinking on the way in and way out of work.
When they turn up it is clear what they are expected to do and don’t feel the pressure of what is not being said when you leave early or not in the office that day.
If your team members have certainty, they will be able to start producing results and contributing to the workplace. It is akin to having psychological safety, in which they will start focussing on the important things that move the needle, rather than focussing on self-preservation.
Again, some team members will just get on with it, and you may not need to cover all the points above.
We all deal with change differently, have empathy with others as they all transition back into the office.
Slow down to speed up!
It will fast track the transition back to the office into the new normal and enable people to focus on the important things that will drive the organisation forward.
We all know to be a good leader, you need to have a vision and have energy, but to be an inspirational leader, you need four qualities.
And these four qualities are not something that maybe you’ve heard before, but the good thing is with these qualities, they can be honed, and they can be developed over time if you’re willing to dig in and do the work.
So, I want you to ask yourself this really important question.
Why should anyone be led by you?
When I ask executives and leaders, I’m usually left with silence.
Now there’s one thing that we know about leadership, it is that to be successful in businesses and organisations, you need followers. If you don’t have those followers, you’re not going to get the results. Leaders then need to find a way to engage with their people, to rouse their commitment towards company and organisational goals for them to be successful.
Most people and most leaders don’t know where to start, they don’t know how to do this.
We need to identify the 4 qualities and then put an action plan in place to develop these, as mentioned they can all be developed.
Here are the four qualities:
Selectively revealing weaknesses, not fatal flaws. What this does, it makes you more approachable as a leader, and it will build an atmosphere of trust and it will help galvanise commitment towards the goals.
Being a situational sensor. This means that you can sense things that are happening in the team or the organisation without being told about it, using a lot of intuition.
Tough Empathy. That is being empathetic passionately, but realistic, and being very straightforward when it comes to the communication. It’s giving people what they need rather than giving people what they want.
Capitalising on your differences. Use what’s unique about you to build your brand. That creates is a little bit of separation from your teams, and it also gives them the distance they need. And that builds employee motivation towards them performing to achieve the goals.
Now all four of these are necessary for you to be an inspirational leader, but one of the most important things.
It can’t be mechanical. It must be a bit of a blend and a bit of a mix and match depending on the situation.
Most important is that these qualities encourage authenticity, is to be your true self.
So, like Goffee and Jones says,
“Be yourself, but just with a little bit more skill.”
I have been asked recently ‘how can I train a can do attitude with my staff?’ the answer is surprisingly simple. I thought it was a good idea to share my experience and tips as a follow up from a previous post on LinkedIn.
In a previous life I worked in the RAF as a staff instructor at the School of Physical Training that involved taking square pegs and making them fit into round holes. As a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) we had to have the ‘can do’ to justify our jobs in the RAF.
How possibly do we contribute when it comes to the battlefield apart from being a stretcher bearer. When you arrive at PTI trade training it is made clear from the start what behaviours and standards are expected from you. You are given constant feedback positive or constructive to keep you in your lane. The environment for excellence is set and the results and communicated essentially setting you up for success. Once we know this we can focus and spend the time doing the most important thing at the most appropriate time in the most effective way.
Every couple of months I would have a new batch of trainee PTI’s that we had to train to be the best of the best and rise to any challenge. Now not everyone has the positive ‘can do’ attitude you normally associate with PTI’s so we had to train them to make sure it was an automatic instinct, create a new habit not a reaction or a forced response but something they would just bounce out of the seat and say, ‘I will do that’.
How did we do this?
You guessed it! PUSH UP’s or chest development exercises, not as any type of punishment but as a practical exercise that built long term memory recall.
It started like this:
‘Can I have a volunteer?’ no hands would go up.
Everyone a quick 50.
‘Can I have a volunteer?’ 1 or 2 hands would go up.
Everyone a quick 50.
‘Can I have a volunteer?’ maybe 5-6 hands would go up.
Everyone a quick 50.
Now this would go on for a while until everyone’s hands went up. Once this happened it meant they all got the point. I wanted everyone to volunteer all the time! Not all the jobs were bad, I would reward them with some great jobs, but they never knew until everyone’s hands went up.
When I was deployed out to Qatar on detachment some years previous I arrived and my first meeting with the Deployed Operating Base (DOB) Commander, the first words out of his mouth were, ‘What is a gym queen doing out on operations?, I don’t want you here. Get your brylcreem, comb, mirror and jog on!
What could you possibly offer apart from a mirror?’ (Yes PTI’s can be seen as gym queens or muscle mechanics, who over use brylcreem and look in the mirror occasionally!) I made it my mission to change his perspective and make sure he would need a PTI on every deployment from here on.
To cut a long story short it was the ‘can do’ PTI attitude, volunteering for everything, organising bbq’s, taking out the garbage, stocking the fridge with water, doing the weekly postal runs to the embassy any job I was your man! On my exit interview he said, ‘I need someone like you on every deployment, you are the grease that makes the cogs go round’.
It was the PTI ethos and attitude that had been trained into me from my training.
What’s the take away from this story?
I’m not saying as a leader you should start giving your employees push up’s for none compliance to get a response, but using the following principles will help;
Set the vision, theme or purpose – What does your team want to be known for? How would you like others to talk about your team? How should we operate as a team? This is essential to align your team to a common theme, it makes sure they are all heading in the same direction.
Set the expectation – Tell the team what you want them to do and what behaviours are expected. It is normally assumed as a new person in the team you know, guess what they don’t! Be explicit set the standards of behaviour and results you want to achieve.
Give feedback – Following on from the previous point, by giving feedback it ensures your team keep on track and are made accountable, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. This makes sure people are kept in their lane and enables them to win.
Model the behaviour – Lead with intention, I would never give anyone something I wouldn’t be willing or could not do myself. (including 50 push ups) Actions are more powerful than words.
Reward – Reward the positive behaviour this creates small wins and builds momentum. A person who is rewarded will deliver twice as much next time and become an advocate.
Ask for feedback – a way of continuously improving and shaping your team behaviours. What made you successful as a team at the start will not necessarily serve you now, landscapes, customers and trends are always changing.
Once these actions take place then you are off to the races!
If you would like to have a chat about how this can help your team feel free to get in touch.
Have you heard this before, ‘I have to treat my staff like children?’
Leadership is a lot like being a parent.
I have said this a lot recently when it comes to managing team members and even the business units.
There are many transferable skills you can take from parenting especially at the moment with home schooling your children, it can be stressful.
Being a parent, you have the following duties:
1. Create a safe environment.
2. Give direction.
3. Provide structure.
4. Articulate expectations. (frequently)
5. Give feedback on performance. (all the time)
6. Provide opportunities to grow. (apart from feeding)
7. Display empathy.
8. Be firm but fair.
9. Look at failure as lesson learned.
10. Have FUN
It is not always easy and sometimes you have to do the things you don’t like doing, at the times you don’t like doing them.
BUT you do them regardless.
When relating to a team these are a couple of things to consider as they form the backbone of managing a team of people.
If you could put a few of these in place in the workplace it will have big benefits for your team and the results you achieve.