Is your team ‘wearing a mask’?

Is your team ‘wearing a mask’?

So you’re are at the point of (if we haven’t already started that move) getting the team back together. It may be in a slightly different way and maybe everyone won’t be there at the same time. A lot of focus is quite rightly on keeping people safe, maintaining distance and working out how we can effectively run our businesses with  new rules and processes in place. For me though the biggest consideration has to be how your people are going to work together following their vastly different experiences of the ‘lockdown’ period and to notice if your team are ‘wearing a mask’

Over the last 3 months most of you will have inevitably experienced changes in the way your business has worked. No matter what you do there have been changes,  right? The majority of you will have either had large parts of the workforce working from home, furloughed staff, made staff redundant, deployed staff into different roles, maybe even turned to making or selling different products and services. Innovation has been rife! Some of you will have shifted wholly or partially on-line, become ‘Zoom’ or ‘Teams’ specialists. The one thing we all have in common is that for each employee the experience has been different. They will all  be carrying different stories forward with them

Its not just the environment that’s changed – your people will have too

So no matter how much contact employees have had, how many Zoom meetings, catch up calls or online quizzes; the team and its individuals are likely to be  changed and the dynamics of the team different. So getting the team back together, ensuring they work well together is likely going to be complicated

Some people will have  loved that weekly call, others resented it, felt nervous of it or maybe even intimidated. Some will be re-joining with gusto, others on the surface will be bought-in but underneath harbour resentment (Why were they furloughed? Fed up of hearing how well some of those who weren’t have done or how tough its been for them). All these are perfectly reasonable thought processes to them and they may be ‘wearing a mask’ to conceal them

So when you think about bringing the team back together, creating a platform for the team to re-bond, share their experiences, give each other time to adjust, understand how it looks from the other person’s side is going to be critical to the long-term success of that team. Its important to recognise it’s not just the environment that’s changed – your people will have too

Different Personalities will deal with things differently

We absolutely know this! How individuals prefer to  express their experience will differ. Some will choose not to express how they have found it at all nor how they feel now. Many will  have mixed feelings; excitement of being back, fear of not being able to hack it in the new world. Some will need the time and airplay to share their experiences in detail

The person who shows up may seem very different from the person you were working with 3 months ago.  Under stress our behaviour can become very different – it can almost ‘flip’. It will take skilled managers to identify who is ‘wearing a mask’ and really understand whats going on to get to enable the team to work effectively as fast as possible. Helping the team transition back and understand these behaviours will be the key to achieving results fast. Take a look – can you recognise any  of these behaviours?

Do you have a strategy for dealing with this?

As leaders, if you sit back and consider the myriad of emotions and experiences your teams will have been through its easy to see why you will definitely need a strategy to carry your team forward. Many of us will have experienced redundancy and economy shifts in the past. This for me feels way different. The added complications people have had dealing with home schooling, elderly parents or family on shielding, the lack of normal routine, the lack of leisure time release, yes,  even that journey to the pub or a cinema night out, no one has experienced this before.

So bringing the team back together and getting them focused on the business whilst carrying these complicated emotions and thoughts is going to be a juggling act. Its not realistic to think that you will immediately get everyone on a good day, in fact you may find the opposite. Being able to recognise if someone is having a bad day or ‘wearing a mask’ is important. Preparing to work with these situations maybe in yourself is even more important?

Creating the team vibe

I’m currently talking to clients about how they are organising their teams when they are back together. Encouraging thought around there being a real focus on  making space for the difference in personalities and how they will be feeling as they come back into the team after their very varied experiences. Keeping a focus on outcomes whilst making space for individuals to adjust and adapt. I’m using the Insights model to help foster that understanding . Contact me  if you would like a free  sheet explaining how Insights may help your business reconnect  and adapt better to help you get beneath the facade of ‘wearing a mask’. Engaging a professional to help you get the team on the same page is  definitely worth considering contact me at   for help in finding the right solution for your team

If you are looking for some guidance with understanding how stress may affect your employees’ mental health post Covid-19 and some handy tips take a look at this fact sheet from the CIPD




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