Okay, so the end of 2017 may have been slow—clients on vacation, projects stalled until the new year—whatever the reason, it’s possible we are all feeling a little disconnected. But you know the forecast, and things are going to speed up in Q1. You’re going to need a way to engage, excite, and motivate your team more than ever.
Here are five ways (big and small) to reconnect with your teams in 2018:
1. Be present. This is probably the most important. It’s easy to get in the habit of working remotely or plugging into our headphones during the heat of the workday. Teams are inspired by active leaders. As much as the WFH corporate lifestyle is convenient, being available in the workplace demonstrates to your employees that you care about them and the work being completed. Remove the headphones and disconnect from your instant messaging platform—the more face-to-face time you have, the better your relationships will be.
2. Don’t talk about work. This one is a no-brainer and probably the easiest on the list. Check in with your team. How was their holiday break? Did they visit family? Do they have traditions that are unlike yours? By connecting on a personal level with your team, you are showing them you truly care. I love swapping recipes with my teammates; it lets us connect about something other than design and opens a window into everyone’s home life.
3. Schedule a pep rally; no pom-poms needed. You’re back from vacation, the team’s still stuffed from holiday treats, and everyone is feeling a bit sluggish. Light a fire under your squad by hosting a kick-off. Are new employees starting? Emcee an ice-breaking game with the greater unit. Engage them with a fun brainstorming session or team-building activity. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with what you work on. Make it light and fun to get the juices flowing. The Creative team at Cadient engages in what we call “Creative Cultivation” once a month.
4. Develop your leadership philosophy. Why should your team follow you? Do you have their backs? Will you defend their space? What are your beliefs? Write them down and share them. Each manager’s philosophy should be unique to them. We’ve all had a manager that we have sworn to ourselves we’d never be like, and one that we really wanted to emulate. Take stock of all those qualities, and come up with three versions of your philosophy: in one sentence, in one paragraph, and in one page. Sharing this with your team fosters a sense of responsibility and community.
5. Define goals for everyone. From the intern to the senior associate, goals should be defined for 2018. I’m not a huge fan of forced goal-setting by large corporations, especially when it doesn’t have anything to do with the day-to-day work of your employees. However, sitting with each of your employees and talking about their personal and career goals for the upcoming year will help you understand where they are mentally. It will help the quiet employees open up to you. Some may need a little push, and some may need a reality check, but even one goal for the year should help keep an employee on track and committed to doing great work in 2018.
No matter how you plan to connect with your team, start 2018 out on a positive note. Keep the lines of communication open, and remember to make things light and fun. From all of us at Cadient, we hope the new year brings you health and happiness, and we hope to be working with you in the future!