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Re-engagement & Culture Re-Set

Re-engagement & Culture Re-Set

* Last Updated 14 April 2020


Just three weeks into the lockdown and already, looking at pictures from the summer holiday season, it feels a bit strange. Images of group gatherings, arms around each other for photos, shared plates at big family dinners, perhaps an overseas trip if we were lucky…. While we long for these things to return, at the moment, they seem far off.


When will we be able to enjoy this life again? And when we can, how will it feel?


Applying this to work, after constant messages of “Stay home, stay safe, save lives”, venturing back into the workplace for those not in essential services will create all sorts of emotions. These may range from happiness and excitement for some, through to fear for others, and everything in between. In fact, we’re each likely to experience a whole range of feelings when we finally get the green light to leave our bubbles.

It’s for this reason that managers need to start thinking about how to re-integrate your team and build a culture that can thrive in the ‘new normal’ of life post-lockdown. In addition to this, given that we’ll likely be going to alert level 3, it is just not on the cards that a day after lockdown we will all return to our desks and carry on back at work as normal.


So, how can you build or re-build your company culture in an environment of social distance, remote work, staggered shifts, recessionary conditions and uncertainty?


We’re not going to pretend this isn’t a big ask. To keep it simple we’ve listed some ideas – hopefully these stimulate some thought and discussion that will lead to the starting point that works for you.

  • Accept that it might take some time and that people will be working through things at different paces. Talk to the team about this – communicate, communicate, communicate. Book extra team meetings (likely to be remote) and one-on-ones. Stick to these as a commitment to check in on your team and keep your finger on the pulse with how everyone is going and feeling.
  • Involve the team in brainstorming and implementing different processes and approaches that support the ‘new normal’. Make it everyone’s responsibility to generate the solutions to overcome the barriers we will face post-lockdown
  • All good managers put the health and safety of the team at the front and centre of their decisions. However, sometimes we can forget to communicate this, leaving employees in doubt. Emphasise to everyone that their health and safety is the most important thing and is your priority, and that it is informing every decision you make. Back this up with your actions. Get their help with assessing Covid-19 associated risks and implementing measures to eliminate, isolate and minimise. If you don’t already have a health and safety committee and a Covid-19 co-ordinator (usually a senior manager), now is the time to appoint them
  • Use the ‘Be Kind’ mantra – or create something similar for yourself. The Government’s use of this kind of cornerstone value is a masterclass in building culture and steering people through a period of change. It can be used to praise the actions of people and positively reinforce the right behaviours – a weekly ‘Kindness is Cool’ award, a chalkboard where people write up examples as they happen, etc.  A value or mantra like this can also be used to call out actions that don’t align with your culture. It’s a useful way to start a coaching conversation with an employee and sets a clear expectation that applies to everyone.
  • Create some common and individual goals. If you don’t already have a performance management appraisal process in place, look at implementing something simple and effective. Goals help to keep people motivated and on the same page. They also drive productivity and high performance, which will be more important than ever before.
  • Revisit your vision, mission and strategic plan and share them with the team. Ensure all of your communications align and reinforce this future direction. Now is the time to lead from the front, alongside AND to get behind your team so they know you have their backs. How you lead your staff through this crisis will be remembered, and in getting it right you will be rewarded for years to come. Consider finding a mentor to act as a sounding board and confidante.
  • Keep positive – look at this as an opportunity to create a new and improved Company Culture. Or if you have an awesome Company Culture in place, now is it’s time to shine. More often than not, adversity brings people together. You will see relationships strengthen, team members going the extra mile and it will all help the bottom line.
  • Finally, look for bright spots and share them with the team. Celebrate success any way you can (Team Quiz via Zoom?). Traditional social activities may be too expensive and not even possible at this time, so get creative – or delegate to those team members who are social butterflies!

Positive People have over 25 years’ experience in helping businesses build or improve their Company Culture. Email us at info@positivepeople.co.nz or call 09 445 1077.