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Preparing your business to return to the workplace

by Tony Lee
on 9 Dec, 2020 5 min read

It looks like we’re finally about to come out of Australia’s biggest “working from home” experiment!

While many of us will be stoked to be back in the office with our colleagues – after so much time in lockdown, it’s not hard to imagine that some folks may be a little anxious about the prospect of sharing space with others again.

While it’s hard to predict whether remote working will be a temporary or permanent fixture in our lives, one thing’s for sure, getting teams performing to pre-lockdown standards will be a challenge as we settle back into new working rhythms.

To understand why this happens, let’s get down to brass tacks.

The 4 stages of group performance

American researcher, Dr Bruce Tuckman published his seminal theory on group dynamics centring around four key stages; the delightfully mnemonic “forming”, “storming”, “norming” and “performing”.

Tuckman’s model explains that as teams form, settle into roles, and mature, the group culture can be equally shaped and challenged around reaching a consensus on a vision, purpose, roles and leadership.

In the forming phase, there’s a higher dependence on leaders for guidance, direction and purpose as group members settle into and vie for roles.

Tensions then may come to a head in the storming phase – power tussles and cliques start to surface and disagreements can destabilise the group. Ultimately through the storming phase, challenges to leadership and purpose need to be resolved to lead to the norming phase.

Here, consensus is reached and there’s finally an acceptance of purpose, leadership and strategic direction. Once these milestones are unlocked, the team can continue performing to consistent standards.

The aim is to move as quickly as possible from the “forming” and “storming stage”, into “norming” and “performing”. And the best way to do this is to take the proactive step to remind or reset a vision for your teams as soon as possible.

Teams that haven’t worked together for a while, may be in for a bit of culture shock, and may revert back through the stages of group formation. Of course, if you have a strong, connected and resilient culture that has stayed on course throughout the ups and downs of lockdown, you’ve probably got very little to worry about. But as we’ve been reminded time and again throughout this pandemic – these are unprecedented times.

So here are 3 phases of actions to take to prepare your business, brand and culture to work well together in the new year.

1. Review your foundations

The next chapter for your business, starts with getting everyone on the same page. There’s two components to this – the first is to take a critical look at your values. This should be a test of your resolve and readiness as a brand and business today. And if they feel a little off-kilter for the next phase of your business and the people you want to take with you on that journey – it’s time to remap those values.

The second critical review your business should consider is your vision. Your vision should be motivating, empowering and easy to visualise. Most importantly, the vision should be attainable. Thinking about how you might chunk your vision into quarterly goals, yearly goals or 3 year targets.

2. Refresh your messaging

Once you have your foundations in order, you may find yourself needing to review your value proposition and core brand idea, to keep it up to date and compelling for your customers, clients and your team. Are the pivots you made during lockdown still viable offerings for the future? Are there better alternatives?

In any case, a refresh of messaging will signal to the market and your team members that your business is back, or perhaps that it’s better than ever before.

3. Reinvigorate your culture

After being physically apart for so long, nothing can be more important than to bring your people together, uniting them with a shared sense of purpose, direction and momentum.

Just like you may have done in the early stages of remote working, now is the time to over index on your communication and re-assure them of what’s ahead.

By now you will have reviewed your foundations – your values and you’ve set out an inspiring new vision. You will have refreshed your value proposition and tooled new messaging to reignite the passion from your most ardent fans, and followers.

Re-learn what the best channels and formats are to engage with your team members, and use your learnings to deliver a clear and concise rallying cry to propel your teams through to the performing stage.

So there you have it – review, refresh and reinvigorate. 3 steps to get your team back on board, back on brand and back to business in 2021.

If your business needs help with your vision and values, external messaging, or cultural brand, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Don’t forget to subscribe for more useful advice and insights in your inbox.

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