In Times of Stress, Build Your Team’s Resilience Rituals
Part 1 of the 5-point checklist: Check Weights
A Diving Checklist approach, written by Luciana Barrancos in collaboration with Skylyte
One of the most commonly used words during this COVID-19 crisis has been “resilience”. Resilience continues to be a vague term, usually incorporating elements such as ability to cope with setbacks and stress, while building grit. Resilience is often discussed at the individual level, which sidelines the systematic factors that affect our ability to develop and sustain resilience — such as the team in the work environment.
But how to develop and foster resilience in our teams? At Skylyte, our suggestion is to build team rituals. Research has shown that creating rituals can help us to feel more in control while supporting teams to feel their work is more rewarding, mainly because of their personal involvement in the rituals, which results in a heightened perceived value of their jobs.
To help you with the creation of these rituals, we, at Skylyte, created a tangible resource to rely on: a template for a weekly resilience checklist.
To bring it to life, we have used a metaphor: scuba diving! In many ways, COVID-19 has redefined the contours of our environment to such an extent it almost feels like being in a new and unknown territory. Similarly, diving entails stepping into an uncertain and risky element — the depths of the oceans. Stepping into it means developing new rituals that are adapted to the new environment and that ensure safety, with the added bonus of creating connection.
For scuba diving, there’s the “5-point checklist” to be completed with your diving buddy. We propose that you adopt a similar approach with your team and create your own 5-point checklist. Aligning ourselves to the “dive checklist” (Weights, Air, Releases, Buoyancy, Final Check), we’ve created 5 categories of weekly rituals to help you create your own effective, meaningful and sticky checklist. No one ever dives alone — so why should your team be any different?
Let’s dive into it!
- Hold the space; in diving terminology — Check Weights
As in the diving checklist, let’s acknowledge the “weights” that we are all carrying and let’s hold the space for that.
What does this mean?
The issue is that most people have little control and high uncertainty in this context: a perfect storm for anxiety. According to Michel Dugas, a professor of psychology at the University of Quebec in Outaouais, uncertainty seems to be a necessary condition for anxiety of any kind. This can have severe impacts on people’s mental health, and it’s showing up in different ways in times of COVID-19. For instance, 60% of Americans living alone claim that they’re feeling lonely often or always as a result of the pandemic. We’ve also seen a 2–3x increased risk for PTSD, similar to patterns seen post-SARS.
Given the low level of agency most of us have in this crisis, but also the sheer weight we are carrying, it is important to provide the space to talk about what people are feeling. Talking about this does not make us weak — it makes us able to stare our stress and fears in the face.This may include being there when your team needs you or ensuring that people have each other’s backs.
A great ritual is to give extra room for R&R (rest and recuperation). For that, model the boundaries between work and non-work in a way that reflects balance. There’s no shame (but pride!) in saying that you have to leave because you’re going to exercise, cook, spend time with your loved ones, read a book or just rest.
Also, can you create boundaries through art or other shared rituals in this new work environment? Consider having your check-out of the day through an “exit” song, image, or even joke to mark the end of the day.
Another ritual is to create a 5 or 10-minute buffer in meetings for people to ask questions and have the space to unburden themselves if needed. Companies like McKinsey and Amazon have experimented with such tactics!
Reminder prompt: “There is a place where I can go when I feel low, when I feel blue”