The new year is not only a time for refreshing your own personal habits but also a great time to refresh your team! If you noticed that toward the end of 2022, your team was stressed, cynical, or showing signs of burnout, seize the opportunity to encourage time off around the holidays and take advantage of a recharged group in January.
The Difference Between an Engaged and Disengaged Team
A disengaged team versus an engaged team can be the difference in sustained and meaningful productivity. You may be leading a disengaged team if they are:
- Lethargic or low energy in meetings
- Missing deadlines or scrambling at the last minute
- Complaining without offering potential solutions
- Resisting change
An engaged team, on the other hand, demonstrates the following behaviors:
- High energy, with a propensity toward discussion and asking questions in meetings
- Submitting work on time, if not ahead of schedule
- Solutions-oriented – they realize not everything may be perfect, but they actively propose suggestions and solutions to mitigate challenges
- Adaptable with an appreciation for change
A disengaged team is often a product of a disengaged leadership group and does not necessarily mean they are incapable or poor performers. Engagement requires deliberate and consistent action from leaders, and there’s no better time to start than now.
Engaged Teams and Productivity
An engaged team feels connected to its work, understands its purpose, and is naturally more productive than a disengaged team. However, engaged teams don’t just happen – they’re built! Take the first step by evaluating your communication strategies across your team. Researchers at Babson University found that “when communication flows through leaders or experts — rather than across all members — groups work slowly and with less innovation. Moreover, echo chambers form. Effective team resets can realign and restructure networks.” Increase productivity by expanding channels for communication. Invite your teams to take ownership of messaging, and avoid the trap of funneling everything through individual leaders. Empowering teams with information will prevent roadblocks and promote increased productivity.
Five Ideas to Refresh Your Team
- Create space for conversation. According to Leaders Institute, “Collaborative teams ask questions. They also offer up suggestions for process improvement. These teams will physically show you they love their work.” However, not every individual feels comfortable doing that. As a leader, designate time during meetings for open conversation. Pause after sharing information and ask people for feedback. If nobody responds, consider reminding your team that this is a space where questions, feedback and solutions are not only welcome but critically important to the success of the work. Empower them to share their ideas, while demonstrating that it is a safe space to share and critique.
- Involve your teams in the planning process. The beginning of the year is often a time when leaders are finalizing key objectives for their teams. Invite your team into this discussion! Rather than telling them what the annual goals are, get their feedback on what they should be. Have teams been feeling burnt out? Perhaps the goals set for the previous year were not realistically achievable. Perhaps there are more resources the team needs in order to execute their responsibilities effectively. Take the opportunity to listen, and then consider that feedback when developing the upcoming year’s plan. This will not only foster inclusion but also get the team energized for the year ahead.
- Get deliberate with recognition. Taking the opportunity to recognize your team for their success is a key component to engagement. Recognition can be in the form of monetary awards, corporate gifts or even extra time off – or it can be a simple shout out. The key component in recognition is getting specific – let the individual or team know how important their work was, and the impact it had on the organization. This will not only serve as motivation to continue to produce great work, but more importantly, connect their work to the organization’s broader purpose.
- Address underperformance. Not every member of your team will be successful. Allowing underperforming employees to languish creates angst and frustration for those high-performing members who are required to pick up the slack. Proactively manage underperforming employees by ensuring they are aware of their performance issues, provide training and set expectations for improvement. If an employee fails to improve, consider finding a new opportunity for that person or part ways.
- Coordinate team-building events. No, we’re not encouraging trust falls but instead focused, research-driven experiences designed to build, refresh and sustain teams. Teamraderie offers a variety of unique experiences to support your team preferences and interests. Whether you are building a new team, managing a hybrid team, or looking to motivate your team to achieve substantial goals, Teamraderie has an experience for you. In partnership with renowned leaders and motivational speakers, your team’s will leave the experience feeling refreshed, engaged and exicted for a new year.
There is no time like the present. Take advantage of this opportunity to restart, re-engage and refresh as we enter 2023!