Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Time for a virtual relaunch of your team?

You know how important it is to run a team kick off at the beginning of the year to clarify goals and priorities and re-energize the team? How much more important will it be to refocus your team after their experiences over the lockdown period?

As many of our clients start a staged return to work, their teams are facing an extended period of mixed working where some individuals will continue working as normal, others will be working from home at least part of the time and others will still be permanently home based.

Priorities will certainly have changed in many teams and we will need to decide on our priorities and directions. Plans may have changed, and budgets may have been cut. Some of the activities we planned for the rest of 2020 will now seem woefully out of date.

We have been facilitating a number of these discussions through interactive virtual meetings to help teams get focused on the next six months (yes there is still half of the year to go!).

Here are some of the topics that people seem to want to discuss

Part 1 – business position and policies

  • How is the business doing? Some industries are more impacted by the downturn than others and individuals are looking for reassurance on the health of their organization and their own jobs
  • What are our priorities? People in many teams are feeling that old plans and priorities are now out of date and we need to focus them on the new direction. Whether priorities have changed or not, it’s time to clarify and keep people
  • People, understandably, want to understand the timing of the likely return and measures that are being taken to get them back to work safely.

Part 2 – our ways of working

  •  People want to share their experiences and have them recognized; these experiences will have differed widely during the lockdown. This will be particularly challenging if you have some team members who continued working, others who were furloughed and others who worked from home in the same team. Each will have had different challenges and there may even be some resentment between the groups. If you sense this may be challenging, you may want to get some professional support from HR or do this individually to begin with before opening up a discussion to the whole team
  • Many people have seen work benefits from the lockdown, as well as experiencing the difficulties. This often includes a reduction in bureaucracy, faster change and the benefits of remote working. Inertia and old ways of working have been broken, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.
  • Now is a great opportunity to discuss; what elements of the new way we are working do we want to keep? What old practices, policies or ways or working should we stop doing? What new ways of working do we still need to improve to make the sustainable over a longer period? What skills and other support do we need to do this? For example, in working remotely for an extended period.

As professional facilitators, when we plan a session, we use a process called OPPT from our book Kill Bad Meetings. For each agenda topic in the meeting we define the outcomes, process, participation and timing.

Here is a sample agenda for a team relaunch, you can edit this to suit your own team’s priorities and challenges. The timings assume a relatively small team, larger teams will take longer and require more breakouts and subgroup working.

Download your free Team re-launch virtual meeting plan

As these discussions will probably take place through virtual meetings, we have included some ideas on which interactions to use to ensure participation and engagement online. Make sure you create discussion and participation, not just a monologue with little opportunity for the participants to feel heard.
You will notice that as much as possible we try to do any information sharing outside the meeting so that the meeting can focus on participation and discussion. Our rule of thumb is that participants should be doing something active approximately every 5 minutes.

We appreciate that you may not yet have the answer to all of these questions. If you don’t, now is the time to reach out to the people who advise you on this in your own organization to get some answers.

There is a great appetite for quality communication and discussion, and we can’t allow these questions to go unanswered or rumours and uncertainties will fill the gap.

You could start by reaching out and asking what questions your people have at this stage.

If you’d like to hear more about what other organizations are doing or to get some facilitation support in preparing and running these online meetings, please get in touch.

Learn more about running effective virtual meetings.

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