The New Normal
We’re entering the fifth month of our “new normal” of social distancing and so far so … weird. Thanks to our essential workers and some pretty amazing technological advances, most of us are managing, but do you feel like you need something more?
Humans are complex animals with basic physical and mental needs. We need air, food, water, and shelter to survive and stability, connection, and confidence to thrive. If you’re reading this article, it’s probably safe to say you’re not worried about your physical needs to survive. If you’re lucky enough to still have a job, you may not be as worried about stability as many others. As for connection and confidence, that’s another story.
Connection is a powerful concept filled with multiple meanings. Connection means physical connection (literally touching), emotional connection (feeling together), personal connection (who we know and influence), and technological connection (our devices and the internet). Being truly connected creates a powerful sense of confidence.
Our technological connections are stronger than ever, but our social connections are suffering.
Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between, we are all social beings and social connection is a fundamental need. Unsurprisingly, social distancing is stifling this. We may be able to survive without social connection, but we can’t truly thrive.
Over the past four months, I’ve met and seen more neighbors than in the past four years. There are more people walking around our community (at a safe distance) smiling and waving than during the previous normal. Picture three couples in lawn chairs (10’ apart) drinking beer, talking, and laughing while the kids are playing together (separately). If this sounds familiar, it’s not a coincidence, you’re fulfilling your basic needs.
Note: Our regular Friday (social distancing) Happy Hour, has bled into Sunday (social distancing) Funday, and even an occasional Wednesday (social distancing) Hooray it’s Hump Day. We’re running out of legitimate reasons to get together.
For those of us working from home, how are we fulfilling our basic needs “at” work?
You’re a good manager, you have a good team, you know how to motivate them. Times are tough, morale is down, motivation is hard. Time to turn to the tried and true, never fails, solution for all … team building! Right?
The concept of team building has been around for nearly a hundred years (it dates back to the 1920s). The basic concept is well known: “building” a sense of “team” in the workplace leads to increased productivity. Simple, but effective.
Team building should be thought of as on a spectrum. On one side is team bonding (happy hour and bowling), on the other side is self assessment (StrengthsFinder and DISC), and somewhere in the middle is team collaboration (scavenger hunts and cooking challenges). These are all great, but is it what most teams fundamentally need?
Spoiler alert: team building has worked for a hundred years, but it’s time to evolve. I’m here to tell you, team building is too broad, mislabeled, and for many means awkward group activities like trust falls. We need social connecting in our personal lives and teams need team connecting in our professional lives. Your company and the team may be able to survive without team connection, but can’t truly thrive.
You already built your team.
Now, more than ever, you need to connect them!
In my experience, most team building activities focus on collaboration and problem solving which is very important. What’s more important, especially now, is focusing on a personal connection between the individuals on your team. This concept is less well known: “connecting” your “team” on a more personal level leads to a stronger sense of community which in turn leads to a more productive team.