Emo Processing: My Coworker Switched Teams!
You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
This adage is painfully true when it comes to coworkers. It’s true even if you don’t think you’re that attached. Today’s tight-knit work teams can be like little families. You support each other, sometimes annoy each other, and ultimately come to depend on each other.
“We’ve observed in our work with organizations large and small that while global company culture is important, the relationships we have with our immediate team—and especially our immediate managers—have incredible bearing on the mindset we bring to work,” Integral CEO Ethan McCarty told SHRM.
Symptom: You used to know everyone. Now you know no one. Your team is so full of new faces that no one even realizes you’re a “veteran.”
rX: Executive coach Nihar Chhaya recommends embracing all the exciting newness of your situation. In some ways, you’re getting a golden opportunity to achieve a fresh start in a position you’re already comfortable with. Plus, if a majority of your team members are new, roles and responsibilities are likely flexible. It’s the perfect time to shake things up (and shake them toward your advantage and preferences).
Take it further: Focus on establishing collaborative relationships with new coworkers whose skills complement but do not substitute for yours. The partnership could bring major value to both your careers.
Manager tip! If you’re the boss, Chhaya recommends facilitating the reshuffling of roles and responsibilities to keep focus and excitement high and uncertainty low.
Symptom: You just miss them so, so much.
rX: Feel your feelings, but also don’t let them mire you in the past. Move forward positively by doing two things:
- Reach out to your old coworker and state your clear intentions to remain in touch, regardless of your work.
- Reach out to someone new on your team. Invite them to coffee. You’ll never replace the exact relationship you had with your former coworker and friend, but you can fill the gap with new connections.
Symptom: You’re anxious. (Because it wasn’t your coworker’s choice to move to a different team. Are you next?)
rX: Mariana Bockarova,PhD, writes in this Psychology Today article:
“According to research, the best way to move forward and lessen these feelings of anxiety is to speak to your manager, who can mitigate the effects of turnover be imposing certain processes, so that you can more clearly be aware of whether or not you are doing well by these clearly defined boundaries. Asking for more detailed feedback about your work may be difficult at first, but it will lessen the amount of anxiety you feel.”
Symptom: You realize, only after they’re long gone, just how many files, folders, and processes they had exclusive access to and ownership of.
rX: The Public Relations Society of America Inc. advises their clients to keep (and closely maintain) shared team manuals filled with login credentials, contact info, billing codes, etc. Start one now, even if it’s too late to help your current situation. (This issue will come up again.) With any luck, you’ll still have easy access to your former coworker and can ask them to fill in their info retroactively.
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Why Tho? (A journaling prompt)
“Why” might be the unsung hero of the who-what-when-where-why squad. “What” and “how” and “when” rule day-to-day thoughts and actions, but what would happen if you gave “why” more attention?
It could completely change how you think about everything else.
Find your why by completing this journaling exercise based on the core principles in Find your Why by Simon Sinek.
Spoiler alert: The key to finding your ultimate why is asking yourself a ton of “why” questions.
I want to _______________________
Why is that important to you?
[Repeat, asking yourself this question over and over again until you arrive at a crystal clear answer that gives you goosebumps—that touches the deepest driver of your intentions and desires.]
I want to open a petting zoo.
Why is that important to me?
Because I love animals.
And why is THAT important to me?
Because I think other people love animals too.
And why is THAT important?
Because I want to share my love of animals with others.
And why is THAT important?
Because I think celebrating this love will actually make the world a better place.
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YOU DO YOU
You know what sucks? The current economic recession. And also the fear of experiencing an even worse one soon. And also the anxiety and dread and uncertainty swirling around all that.
You know what helps? Knowing you’ll get through this. Trusting your resilience.
In Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant explore how resilience can help people deal with unexpected catastrophes and setbacks and find ways to get through life’s unexpected Option Bs.
A quick-and-easy takeaway:
Resilience can get you through any and all situations and challenges. While there are many ways to cultivate resilience (see a few below), one of the most effective methods is to simply avoid certain destructive thought patterns that bar people from healing. Psychologist Martin Seligman calls them the 3 Ps:
- Personalization – Believing we’re personally responsible for what happened
- Pervasiveness – Believing what happened will effect (or ruin) everything in our lives
- Permanence – Believing our current negative feelings and situation will last forever
Talk to yourself. When something comes up, calmly ask yourself non-judgemental questions, such as:
- What’s the most helpful/useful thing I can do in this situation?
- What are all the possible solutions?
- What outcome do I want to get to?
- Who do I know with expertise related to this issue?
- How long may I allow myself to think about options before acting?
Don’t act immediately. In Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done, David Allen discusses the virtues of slowing down, even when a crisis gives you a terrifying sense of urgency. Tell that sense of urgency to take a chill pill. You need time to think about a viable solution.
In-Person Meetings That POP
With the right planning and flare, in-person meetings (even your most grueling day-long vision planning session) can feel like recess compared to the Zoom-based alternative.
Here are some tips for making your in-person meetings productive and joyful:
- Have a silent brainstorm for 1-2 agenda discussion items. (Instead of shouting answers, everyone writes their ideas on sticky notes and puts them on a whiteboard or wall for further discussion.)
- Incorporate a Catchbox tossable microphone to boost engagement and minimize interruptions.
- Place fidget spinners, stress balls, and inexpensive notepads and pencils on the meeting table to help fidgeters focus.
- Musical chairs. Halfway through the meeting, ring a bell and have everyone reshuffle their seats.
- Instead of having just one person take all the notes, ask people to volunteer to be the official notetakers for specific portions of the meeting.
- Hot seat. For 1 agenda item, randomly call on one person and ask them to nominate a colleague to kickstart the discussion.
- Place a “phone jail” near the meeting entrance.
- Low-key scavenger hunt. Hide a small object or sticker somewhere in the room. The first person to find it has permission to shout and interrupt the meeting to announce their victory.
- Pile your meeting table with Legos®.
- Decorate with icebreaker questions. Print and tape some to the wall, write them on a write and wipe board, or put them on sticky notes covering your meeting table.
- Use a live polling tool to engage attendees with multiple types of participation.
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