We are all living life very differently now than we were just a couple of months ago, and teamwork has become essential as we navigate our new world. Whether our teams consist of co-workers or family, how we manage these interactions can make or break our ability to get things accomplished, and can strengthen our relationships with others. Impact100 members and business owners Amy Anger and Nicole Lewis offer the best practices when it comes to team building.

Key Elements

  • Be authentic. Allowing your personality to come through lets your team members know that it’s okay for them to do the same. Knowing whether our team members are introverts or extroverts (and allowing them to know the same about us) can help us know how we can interact optimally. We may need to check in on people who are more reserved and offer them a chance to let us know how they’re doing, while someone more outgoing might reach out on her own. Also, though you may need to moderate your personality a bit in a work setting, don’t try to be a different person in a work setting than you are at home.
  • Set boundaries. We are all “in” one another’s homes now more than ever before, so setting boundaries and allowing our team members to set theirs is vital. Be honest about your family needs in a work setting by carving out time to spend with family. Be sure to respect others’ boundaries. Allow co-workers to share their needs. Some people are less comfortable doing that, and might need space or encouragement to do so.
  • Actions speak louder than words. If you show others that you abide by the boundaries you have set for yourself, you empower them to do the same. For example, if you say you have a family event at a certain time, but you continue working during that time anyway, your team members may feel like they must do the same. Work time and family time are equally important, and setting and adhering to boundaries enable us to keep that balance working well.
  • Show empathy. Reach out to your team members and listen to what them might be going through. Find ways to accommodate their needs while still helping them to be effective team members. Flexibility is key.

Suggestions for Business Leaders

  • Set weekly touch point meetings that are not work-related. Have a virtual Monday morning coffee chat, a Thursday happy hour, or even a group yoga session. These are things we would do in person to build our work relationships, and we should do them virtually now. Connecting with our co-workers helps mitigate stress and build teamwork.
  • Just because you can’t see your team, don’t assume they aren’t working as hard as they would normally be. Thinking this way can result in assigning people more work to make sure they’re being productive. Though there will be some inefficiencies right now, you will know whether the work is getting done. Show that you trust your team, and you will encourage engagement and productivity.
  • Set realistic goals and prioritize them. What has to be done in the short term, the mid term, and the long term? Work on what’s important today. Focus on how the small goals help achieve the big picture.
  • Show appreciation in a meaningful way. An example during more normal circumstances: rather than throwing a big Christmas party, a team leader might realize that what people really need during the holidays is a day off.

Strategies for Nonprofits

  • Nonprofits are often driven by their mission statement, but this must be seen as the long-term goal. Don’t lose site of all the tasks that contribute to making the mission happen. All jobs are important. Emphasize how each job makes a difference, whether it’s working on projects, planning events, raising money, etc.
  • Like employees in business, nonprofit volunteers bring different skill sets to the table. Learn from each other. Social workers can offer insight to those working on the financial side, and vice versa. The goal is the same for all, and it takes everyone to get there.
  • The same advice about being authentic and respecting boundaries applies in nonprofit work, too. What motivates a volunteer as opposed to an employee is different, which makes building trust and connection even more important.
  • Say thank you.

Your Family is a Team

  • What are your family’s core values? Share yours, and encourage family members to share theirs. Have they changed during this crisis? Have an honest conversation about how best to move forward together within the framework of those core values.
  • Be yourself and allow your family members to do the same. Don’t push them to be who you want them to be or think they should be. Remember that your children are individuals, not clones of you or your partner. Empower them to be themselves.
  • Set and respect boundaries. Each family member has different needs when it comes to time and personal space.
  • Talk about what gifts everyone brings, and how those gifts can make family life better for all. Who can make us laugh? Who gives a great hug? Who is best at being quiet?
  • Reprioritize what is important now, and decide how to do things differently to get through this time.
  • Respect your family time as you would your work time. If you’ve set aside time to be with your kids or your spouse, don’t work during that time. Be fully present in what you are doing.
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