When asked to develop a team toolkit for the staff re-orientation webpages my first thought was ‘where do I start?’ It needed to be something that was useful to teams in the current climate and helped them manage some of the challenges they are currently facing. So that was the starting point.
‘What are some of the key challenges teams are facing?’
I think most people would agree that short time working is one of the biggest challenges. With so much to deliver and with fewer resources, how do we decide what to focus on and what to put on hold? How do we do things more efficiently?
The fact there are so many new ways of working struck me as another key challenge – we’ve teams working remotely, on campus, and in some cases a mixture of both – and we’re all fairly new to it. This challenge alone poses so many questions – how do we stay connected, what methods of communication work best, what’s good about how we’re working now and what’s not working?
How do you go about developing a tool which responds to these issues?
Research tells us that flexibility, communication, empathy and maintaining relationships will be essential as we transition further into new ways of working [see the footnote of this blog for links to a selection]. These will be key to understanding and managing needs within teams. Therefore the toolkit has been designed around these key themes and includes five sections which include hints, tips and activities to support these themes:
- Create a collective understanding – Reflection can be a really powerful tool, especially in current times. This section is all about understanding yourself and your team better, by listening to each other’s experiences and taking forward the learning to improve ways of working.
- Stay connected – On a very basic level we’re still connected, we’re getting the job done. But connection is more than this. It’s about providing feedback and support, it’s about providing space for work-free activities and making sure we’re being inclusive. Here we’ve lots of hints, tips and ideas for how to incorporate some of these essential connection points into your team calendar.
- Holding onto the purpose of the team – In times of uncertainty our team purpose can act as an anchor, especially when helping to decide what work to focus on. In this section you learn how to build, develop or review your team purpose.
- Managing short time working – I don’t mind admitting that this was the most challenging section to develop. How teams are impacted by short time working is personal to each team. However there are some very useful resources out there that can be applied whatever your situation, which will help improve both personal and team productivity. It also includes a method for applying the Stop, Reduce, Make Efficient, Delay framework (SRED) which incorporates the Eisenhower Time Management Matrix. I can’t promise it’s the answer to all STW related issues, but I do believe it provides a good starting point and will leave you with a resource which will be useful on an ongoing basis.
- Day to day – There’s a little bit of everything in here! The Workstation Activity is a fun and creative way of identifying issues and findings solutions to any workstation problems. The Mentimeter tool is also useful in helping gauge team stress levels among other things – we use this at our monthly team meetings.
Is it worth finding the time to do?
Yes! I really believe that there’s something for every team in here. Whether you’re looking to become better connected, improve communication, find methods to aid short time working or simply spend some time away from work activities together. Take a look and see what stands out as being something which would benefit your team then agree a time to work through it.
What are others saying about the toolkit?
To ensure what’s been developed was useful we asked people and teams within the organisation to look at the toolkit and pilot some of the activities. Their feedback has helped shape the contents, and has been a benefit to their teams. See what they have said:
“The images discussion proved very useful…as we are all feeling the fatigue effects of lockdown and different ways of working.” “Time for reflection and sharing experiences.” “Quality time out with team” “Supports communications with team.” “Greater understanding of self and others.”Team Reflection Activity
“I enjoyed doing something with the team that wasn’t just work stuff.” “It enables us to have some useful conversations about how we could do things differently.” “It offers a way of sharing with others that is about us as individuals without getting too personal.” “I think it will be very useful and positive exercise both in terms of the potential for shared good advice but also to address the concerns about teams losing cohesion after such a long time with no contact.” “Very enjoyable & engaging, light hearted way to share some key messages and offer support too.”Workstation activity
Why not take a look at the Toolkit yourself and see what elements might benefit your team…
It’s really important that what’s available in this resource is useful to teams. We’d really like to hear about your experiences of using the toolkit. Please email me with any feedback or contact me on MS Teams.
Harriet Robb, Organisational and People Development Advisor
Links to some of the key research which formed the basis for the toolkit: