The survival handbook for weird times

26 May, 2017
Posted in Content
26 May, 2017 alexxx

2020 will go down in history as a tough one on all fronts. Getting teams to work remotely, maintaining high spirits on distance and trying to mitigate conflicts without face to face contact has been doable, but not without its challenges. After nearly a year with bare minimum human contact we are starting to see work apathy and low spirits.

In challenging professions with tight deadlines, fast-changing circumstances and where mistakes come with big consequences, the loss of physical meetings and informal chats is particularly burdensome.

I recently held a workshop for a group of compliance officers on how to deal with certain stressors such as lack of control, perfectionism and fear in these weird times.

Delte alt control

The pandemic showed us that, ultimately, we have very little control. My advice was to work on accepting the fact that we have very little control. We live in an interconnected world with variables that change very fast and more often than not all we can do is hold on tightly to our hats.  In fact, we are living amidst chaos all the time. So the natural place to look for inspiration would be chaos theory. Chaos theory is in fact not chaotic at all: it’s the science of finding patterns in endless variables that seemingly behave in a random way. Try to identify the underlying patterns in your own chaos. You may still not be able to mitigate the mess, but it may be a tad more predictable. And thus, easier to accept.

Lost in perfection

Another risk of working in solitude is perfectionism getting out of hand. Good enough is what one should strive for, but how does one know what is good enough? Finding your own level of ‘good enough’ will partly come with age and experience. That, however, is of little comfort to people who have just started climbing the career ladder. That is why you need a team culture that helps calibrate expectations and define what that magical good enough really is. But this calibration is easily overlooked in endless Zoom meetings. So you need to make sure you have some structures in place for giving feedback and helping your team calibrate their demands on themselves and each other. A good feedback culture is what makes teams really stand out.

The amplified fear factor

Without daily physical contact with your team, fear can easily get the better of you. As we have no physical contact and no opportunities to interpret silent signals, a false sense of ostracism becomes a risk. A casual ‘OK’ answer with an encouraging nod might set you at ease in the office, but on email it may come across as a tad tepid with an escalating fear response as a consequence. In these times of Teams meetings, you need to work extrahard on validating your colleagues.

Team spirit or Teams spirit?

What defines you as a team? Seemingly stupid routines and jokes is what makes us a tribe. Without these, we risk lose our sense of belonging and purpose. Remind yourself on what you guys as a team are trying to accomplish, why it’s important both for yourselves but in the bigger picture and why you chose to work with these people? Why do you love your tribe?

The last point is throw some gratitude into the equation. The pandemic changed work life, but in a lot of ways for the better. Once we get back to the office (at least partially), we may well have come up with the perfect balance of working in our pajamas versus the suit.







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