Helping Your Teams Perform at Their Best

Helping Your Teams Perform at Their Best

The workplace has changed forever. How do we help our teams perform at their best as they work from home, as they return to the office, and as they strive to be productive during uncertainty and change?
Akin Belo
October 8, 2023

Being productive requires managing stress, distractions, and threats that can derail us. Helping your teams get to the top of the green zone is more important now than ever before.

The Value of Meaningful Work

One way to regulate and move to the green is to focus on the meaning of our work. Ask your team to reflect on the purpose and “why” of their work. Meaningful work has the potential to help us adapt, cope, and respond to the current situation in a healthy way. We can look back on a good day and say that we contributed, accomplished something, and solved problems.

The tips below are ways to help your team members not only be productive but do purposeful work.

Practical Tips to Get Your Team Members to the Green Zone

Regulate Yourself First

Like putting on an oxygen mask before helping the person seated next to you on the plan, first regulate yourself before trying to help others. Regulated people have the potential to regulate others. Dysregulated people — predictably — dysregulate others.

Regulate Others

Help your team members regulate so they are able to tamp down threats, distractions, and the stressors that can interfere with having a good day. This will help them gain access to better thinking and productivity. This will also help demonstrate you care. When your team members shift quickly to the work, it might be worth slowing it down even for 1 minute just too ensure they are regulated. If not, they won’t be thinking at their best.

Reflective Listening

First use listening to help regulate others, and once the person is regulated, shift to reflective listening, which is the most powerful form of listening particularly when trying to solve problems, collaborate, and make decisions. The current crisis will have a beginning, middle, and end. There will be a post-pandemic time. Ask questions to prompt reflection on what was learned by previous experience and look ahead to consider how we can influence the best possible outcomes in 6 months and beyond.

Brief Positive Interactions

Many of us may have underestimated the value of the brief informal positive interactions we used to have throughout our previous workdays. Recent research in neuroscience show that these interactions are regulating and help us achieve better outcomes during trying times. Plan to reach out to three people each day for 5+ minutes on video so you can see/hear them. These kinds of interactions can help you and others regulate, connect and collaborate.

Cultivate Daily Routines

Consider the potential benefits of structure and routine. They can help you focus, shift your emphasis to what is predictable and controllable, and can provide a sense of normalcy and comfort. They can also help you have better days. What does a good day look like for you? What is your plan to have a good day? Answering these questions can help you fine tune your routine.

Build Cadence for Best Practice Sharing

We can get really good at being productive working from home and managing others remotely if we share best practices that others are finding useful. Ask team members to share what is working for them in how they regulate, connect with others, approach their work, and fine tune their routines. Let’s get good at this together.

Self-Management and Self-Coaching

Look ahead 6 months from now. What if we can take the time now to help others manage themselves better? When we ask managers the question: “Who manages you,” we typically get an immediate response: “I manage me.” How might we take this mindset to our coaching and influence of others? How might we create better self-management and even self-coaching where others strive to get better by thinking differently and managing stress and pressure differently?

Virtual Coaching Community

Proximity should no longer be a barrier to your coaching or prevent you from getting great at coaching. We will get through this together, and we can be more deliberate about cultivating this. How might we optimize our coaching community? Try reaching out to other people in leadership and coaching within your organization or in others. Share what is working for you. Ask people around you what is working for them. Build a regular cadence to regulate yourself, connect with others, and get better at leading and coaching your team.

Your Team Members' Routines

Ask your team about their daily routines and how they are focusing during the day. What is working for them? Asking about focus is likely to keep them in the green zone. Asking about being productive has the potential to send them to the red zone. Encourage sharing of best practices across team members. Develop a regular cadence to help your team get better at this faster. Ask in 1:1 or team settings: “what does a good day look like for you?” and “what’s your plan to have a good day?”

Show a Little Kindness and Vulnerability

You might have recently heard the advice of lower your expectations. How about we have higher standards about fewer things (whatever is truly important and a priority for you) and show a little kindness, forgiveness, and compassion? Assume others are trying their best. A little kindness can help you and others regulate and is necessary now more than ever before. Hearing the noises of children or dogs barking on a video conference should not be what we are getting stressed out about. Save your worries for more important things. Show kindness and see what comes your way. There is strength in showing vulnerability, transparency, and that you too are human. This can also be a way to model being honest so that others are more comfortable approaching you and telling you more of what is really happening in their world.

Modify Your 1:1 and Team Meetings

Include methods of regulating and connecting prior to getting to the task at hand and include as part of your wrap up. The neuroscience concepts of dose size and spacing are important here. Smaller doses spread out over time help regulate, create psychological safety, and build trust and resilience. When managing remote individuals and teams, consider shortening the time of these interactions. One 15 minute 1:1 and brief 5 minute check-ins will help you apply these concepts.

Take Action

Based on this list of practical tips, what 1–2 actions will you try that will make the biggest difference?

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