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“How are you doing?”
You’ve probably asked or been asked that question multiple times just this week.
In casual conversation, it can be anything from a serious inquiry to a throwaway greeting. However, in hybrid or work-from-anywhere (WFA) teams, this simple question can become much more meaningful.
Asking how a colleague is feeling (and actually stopping to listen to the answer) is key to fostering camaraderie, building trust and psychological safety in your team, and connection across continents and Zoom screens.
In South Africa, I learnt a beautiful way of greeting each other from my Zulu friends who say: “Sawa bona”, which means: “I see you”.
We can reply “Sikhona” which means: “I am here”.
We know today that connection is key for building strong relationships, for increasing engagement and collaboration.
Challenges in the workplace are complex, and conflict and tension can easily arise when team members are not aligned; from the distance, miscommunication, or simply from the fact that we are human.
The stronger the connection, the easier it is to untangle problems, agree to disagree and to be more understanding. The stronger the connection the better we work together when things run smoothly and hit the bumps the in the road.
The story of Jonathan and how his experience brought more significant connections and collaborations with his Team
Jonathan leads cross teams that are dispersed across multiple countries. He is one of my coaching clients.
Below is his story of how he has created significant connection in and amongst the team members.
Jonathan is a resonant leader. He invests not only in his attitude and intention but in his actions – “seeing”, understanding, and facilitating connection across the team.
Jonathan genuinely cares and believes in investing in relationships.
As I coach Jonathan, we start with him understanding how he is. We use a practice called an Energy Check.
Samantha: Hey Jonathan, how are you? What is your energy level like today from 1-10, where 1 is low, and 10 is high?
Jonathan: “I’m at about an 8 today. Lots of plates spinning in work, and a little overwhelmed, but making progress on all fronts, so all good.”
Why use the Energy Check?
I use this energy check in multiple ways with clients. It’s a way for them to become conscious of how they are feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. Awareness is key to managing oneself well. Our energy often dictates how we are in our day. When our energy is down, then what is needed?
I encourage leaders to use this energy check with their teams.
Here is an example from Jonathan :
“One area that Samantha really helped me with is building a personal connection with my teams. I have teams in remote locations, and with Covid I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit them. We had lots of new people join, and it was difficult to build relationships with them through Zoom etc.
Samantha suggested starting an Energy Check on Fridays, basically asking people to score their energy levels from 1 to 10, and if they felt comfortable, to add some words of explanation as to why they felt this way.
Initially I was a little hesitant, as to make it work it meant opening up beyond a work level and being somewhat vulnerable in front of my team. But that’s kind of the whole point of it, showing that we are all human and all part of a work family.
So I tried it a couple of months ago.
I posted some thoughts on why we were going to try this, and I go first every Friday, posting on Slack my energy level along with a few words.
Then others started doing the same. It’s been a great success. People share personal things that are going on in their lives, and the thread often ends with people asking more about people’s children, pets, hobbies or consoling people when times are hard. We all know what each other’s pets look like now 🙂 and we’ve built a much better bond in the team.”
Samantha: Tell me what happened when people didn’t answer…. did you just keep at it??
“I keep at it. Sometimes 2-3 people respond, sometimes half the team. It varies week to week, but I keep doing it anyway and most times there’s a bit of chat about people’s lives outside work.
Other times it can be quiet and there’s few messages. But I keep doing it anyway ”
And a few months later … it’s a regular thing with the team now. It’s become a way of how they share and connect.
For Jonathan this practice has become a game-changer in building stronger relationships within and across the team.
How using Energy Checks can help you develop your leadership skills
Asking how someone is feeling and actually wanting to know the answer can help foster camaraderie, build psychological safety in your team, and increase empathy.
Check-in activities are a way to boost collaboration while cementing the bond between coworkers. They encourage people to share a bit more about themselves at a level they are comfortable with and this deepens honesty, transparency, and trust in your workplace culture.
This energy check is a key practice from our new online Conscious Leadership programme.
In the programme, participants learn new ways of leading to build awareness of self and of others. These innovative practices lead to incremental positive changes in the way teams work together. These incremental positives are sustainable and therefore combine to lead to transformational results.
Energy Checks help:
– Team Focus and Alignment
– Create psychological safety
– Generate positive energy
Contact us at email@example.com or call +44 7876 024555 to learn more about our Conscious Leadership programme and how we can help you increase your leaders’ resourcefulness in the face of ongoing change.