Russell opened by discussing the post adrenaline crash we’re all starting to feel. The only new normal we’re seeing is yet more uncertainty, so the initial energy and drive we had working from home is now giving way to anxiety and loneliness.
Isolating micro exclusions
Russell defines micro exclusions as situations like not being able to speak in meetings. These seemingly benign encounters have a massive impact on our wellbeing, leading us to give up and feel frustrated or hurt. These emotions can cause a 25% drop off in productivity.
“In meetings it is common for people to get 20 seconds or less to speak before someone interrupts them.” - Nancy Kline.
“You hurt my feelings;, “my heart is broken” is how we’d describe such feelings, yet these are not factual statements per se. Feelings can’t be damaged, for example. However, evolution has wired us to feel pain when we experience social exclusion - just as much as if it were physical. Likewise, our brain rewards us from positive social experience as much as it does money.
More than just colleagues
Contrary to some bosses’ beliefs. It’s better for us to have friends at work. High performing teams have stronger bonds - not just as colleagues, but rather as friends. A ‘best friend’ at work makes us 7 x more likely to be engaged in our roles. Additionally, friendship-focused teams are more likely to succeed.
Not seeing our friends at work is partly why we are struggling at the moment. We are losing valuable human connection.
Four techniques to help overcome feelings of isolation
- Hold better meetings - employ the rounds technique in meetings, paying close attention to the quality of the attention given to the person speaking. Each person is given a set time to answer the question, eg: “what are your thoughts on...?” Everyone listens well without interruption. Once finished, the speaker asks the next person’s thoughts. This ensures everyone’s opinion is valued equally.
- Better motivate people - we value what we spend our time on and we hate it if we see it unread/disused. This means it’s really important to praise people! Virtually high five and be specific in what has earned the kudos. Praise becomes self-reinforcing and if we are thinking appreciative thoughts, we perform better.
- Set clear expectations - we're unable to focus without clear, concise directions. We should all talk regularly and provide instructions to colleagues or reports in person (Zoom!) - not just over email.
According to ACAS, “flexible workers feel a greater need to give back to their companies” - good, but are we working too excessively due to fear of furlough or redundancy? We can help prevent this by having shorter comms cycles - ie making sure we’re having nudging conversations with each team member on a regular basis.
- Communicate with transparency - rather than talking about performance or activity, managers should be addressing five pillars with their reports: the company, society, customer, team and the individual. Don’t just touch on the business or the customer-side of things. Employees are a company’s biggest promoter, so should be treated as if they are all shareholders.