For teams now fully remote for the first time, a bit over a month into this “new normal”, it may be starting to feel hard. It’s not the same. It’s not ending soon. Even when the virus passes, remote work is here to stay. The “we can do this” energy may be starting to fade. Some teams have experienced some decent remote “fails”.
There’s Good News
1. You’re not alone, at all. We’re all in the same big learning-together-boat.
2. It’s normal, expected, and totally appropriate to fail.
3. Now’s the time to instill your team with the identity of learning together.
You are right at the beginning of a normal learning curve. It’s the perfect time to teach your team how to learn, together. Use this experience as a laboratory. Life gave all of us an opportunity to build the skill of learning together. More importantly, claim the identity “we are a team that learns together”, and it will serve you unbelievably well for whatever the future brings. In other words, instill your team with a “growth mindset”.
How do you do this?
- Talk about it, together. Bring the team together to talk about what it means to have a growth mindset right now, and how you believe the team will be better together because of this experience. Then invite everyone to share their learning so far and how they think it will make the team better.
Quick growth mindset refresher. People who have a growth mindset:
- Believe they can learn
- Welcome challenges that come with learning
- Stick it out and persist even through failure and mistakes
- Learn from the successes and failures of others
*Credit: Carol Dweck. Mindset. 2006.
- Message a growth mindset to your team, all the time. Set up the normal expectation that you will have challenges and failures, and that’s okay.
- “We are the kind of team that learns together”
- “So, video conference is feeling hard right now, but we’re the kind of team that doesn’t give up, so let’s talk about what we’re learning and how we can adjust”
- “Juggling our workload with quarantine responsibilities isn’t easy, and we know how to persist, we’ve persisted before (insert a story about that time you persisted in a great way) so let’s talk about scheduling.”
- Experiment. If you’re not already, teach your team how to experiment. It’s the best tool we have right now to instill a growth mindset, and figure out “new normal”, together.
Experiments work like this:
- Identify what you need to work on or learn: let’s say it’s communication
- Ask the team “What matters to us as we communicate remotely together?”
- Invite people to come up with proposals. Example: “It matters that we all know each other’s schedules so we know when people are available. I propose we post our ‘availability’ in our group text every morning.” You know you have a workable experiment when everyone can agree to live with it for a short period of time.
- Decide how long you want to run the experiment (let’s say 2 weeks)
- Critique. When the 2 weeks is up, get the team together and ask:
- How did it go?
- What went well?
- What would you change?
- Do we need to run another experiment with the changes or are we putting this into place as is?
You’ve got yourself a team level growth mindset when your team gets in the habit of talking about learning regularly, when they think of themselves as a team that learns together and when experiments are part of how the team works. The power and agility that comes with that will make you feel you can do anything together. And it will be true.