How do you know what’s really happening for people when all your conversations are mediated by screens? Colleagues and team members may say they’re okay, but are they? Perhaps you're saying you’re okay, but not really feeling it? As we head into the winter months and another lockdown, managers and leaders have been asking us how they can support their own and their team’s well-being.
Working with our clients over the last six months, at Lift we've found that group check-ins are an effective way of building a sense of support and community, as well as sharing practical ideas and problem-solving.
A group check-in is a facilitated conversation that builds a shared understanding of what's been happening for everyone - the highs and lows, challenges and positives - and what support they will need (and can offer) in the coming months. It is not a replacement for one-to-one conversations, which are invaluable for personal support, but works well in addition to build connection and collective responsibility.
Whether you’re in a functional team or a leadership group, the benefits of having an open and honest conversation together are pretty much immediate. When people know they can talk frankly and show vulnerability, they feel less isolated, more heard and better understood. It increases empathy. The group can sense when a colleague needs additional support or help and, in our experience, rallies round immediately. As the saying goes: “We’re weathering the same storm, we’re not all in the same boat”. True, but having a regular group check-in is like tying everyone’s boats together - it helps them all to stay afloat. And it feels good:
"Evidence shows that helping others can also benefit our own mental health and wellbeing… it can reduce stress as well as improve mood, self-esteem and happiness." Mental Health Foundation
To get the most out of your group check-in, here are some pointers:
Keep it small. With a group size of 4-6 people, you can create a more intimate and trusted atmosphere and enough airtime for everyone to speak ‘from the heart’.
Use a skilled facilitator. Having an impartial facilitator, from within the business or external, allows everyone in the group to take part, including the team leader. A good facilitator will create psychological safety by establishing agreed ground rules and keeping the discussion open and supportive.
Set the tone. Be clear about the purpose and that “it's okay not to be okay”; this helps avoid showboating and 'toxic positivity'.
Less is more. Guide the conversation with a few key questions* and build in plenty of time for people to discuss their own experiences. Consider running a survey beforehand to identify key themes - we’ve found this works really well as a basis for discussion.
*Questions could include:
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
What is helping or hindering you?
How can the team or organisation support you better?
If you're looking for ways to support your leaders, managers and teams through the pandemic, we have tailored offerings, including facilitated Group Check-ins, Download our printable PDF below for more details.
Give us a call. We’ll listen to your challenges and see how we can help.