How to be there for your teammates
More than ever, checking in with your friends and family is so important to make sure they are coping okay with the current circumstances. The same should apply when it comes to your colleagues. We all have our own challenges and stresses that won’t always have anything to do with work. And sometimes they will! Either way, it’s important we are there for our teammates to let them know they can reach out to us if they need to. So, how does one create an environment that fosters openly caring for each other and reaching out? Especially whilst we are all working from home? Here are some of our tips.
Normalise talking about mental health
If you know a thing or two from firsthand experience or other means about mental health, be sure to normalise it in conversation if it ever comes up. Never talk about mental illness as if it is taboo, by, for example, whispering about it or raising your eyebrows when bringing up ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’. When talking online, it doesn’t hurt to consciously check in on people’s mental health. You could send a “Hey, how’s everyone’s mental health this week? It’s been a busy one!” Although not everyone feels comfortable talking about their own mental issues in a group setting, they will know you are open to talk about these things in general and this could make you more approachable and trustworthy in future for people who may need to talk.
Set time to talk to people about non-work related topics
This can be done with team and with individuals separately. It can be helpful to catch up with people either via phone call or video call and just have a general chat about the weekend, any TV shows your watching, any new skills you’re learning or other topics that you know are relevant. This not only creates a more personal connection but it can also help you gauge people’s moods. If they seem low or not their usual self, you can organise a second check-in, if not addressing their feelings in that instance already (if it is one-on-one).
Keep in casual contact via a chat function so that informal conversation is common
When ONLY communicating via a formal email format, things can seem a little professional and serious. By using a chat function whether it is Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp or something else, you can keep open fluid conversation that is much more casual. You can use this function to ask a ‘quick question’ or share a funny ‘at home’ story or just engage in general chit-chat and show you are available and easy to talk to.
Check-in if you notice that someone isn’t their usual self
As mentioned earlier, usually you may notice if someone isn’t their usual self. They may be quieter, may be taking sick days, may be falling behind with their work or seemingly more stressed and agitated than usual. Whatever it is, make sure to set aside time to approach them privately and ask them how they are and learn what may be going on for them. It can mean a lot for any person to take interest and show they care when someone is going through a tough time.
Find the method of conversation that works for individual teammates
‘Being there’ for people is not a one size fits all situation. Different people will prefer different means of communication. For example, Tamara on your team may love talking on the phone and the conversation could flow that way easily, however, Andy might hate talking on the phone and prefer instant messaging. Some team members might love a group conversation, whilst others will prefer to have a private conversation. Some people may need to know you’re there, but won’t open up straight away, and might come to you at a later time. You will learn how your teammates prefer to communicate the longer that you work with them, or, if you ask them!
Be kind and inclusive
Ultimately, it’s very important to create a kind and inclusive environment. If you are known for gossiping about every person in the office, people might not feel comfortable talking to you if they are going through something. Try to be a neutral, non-judgemental person when you talk with others, and to be generally positive as much as you can. No one is positive all the time and work stresses have all caused us to huff and puff a little here and there, but if you are mostly kind, people will definitely recognise that and feel at ease around you and possibly comfortable enough to talk with you.
How do you check in and be there for your team?