In order to thrive, groups of course need to be invested in their goals. But also, group members need to be invested in their relationships with one another. During COVID we’ve all been thrown for myriad loops (remember all the think pieces about toilet paper hoarding that were coming out six months ago?). In professional and non-professional environments, morale is suffering. It’s been a period marked by isolation, anxiety, and many unknowns about what will happen next.
How to hold the group together when you’re far apart
Boosting group morale during COVID has been imperative. Some groups struggling to keep everyone in the mix due to poor organization before COVID are redlining now. The pandemic has the potential to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. In order to avoid letting your group wither on the vine, consider some morale boosters to keep spirits high and people connected to one another:
1. Address issues proactively and directly (keep feedback loops open):
Ambiguity is horrible for morale because it makes people anxious and unsure. Group members are more likely to stay engaged and motivated when there is an open and clear pathway for getting issues addressed. Creating a culture of healthy feedback sharing goes a long way to keeping conflict productive. The last thing groups and group leaders want is to have backroom snideness, passive aggressive backbiting, and a hostile vibe sap the joy out of group involvement. There are clear strategies for keeping conflict healthy, and they largely rely on groups having transparent processes in place. More on that here.
2. Recognize milestones, losses, and non-group related goals:
Especially during our current pandemic, many groups have had to get creative in order to keep member engagement high. People who are active in their communities and groups tend to have multiple irons in the fire. Finding little ways to recognize members outside initiatives and achievements makes everyone feel supported. Particularly during this time when people hungry for connection, this is a great way to introduce a networking aspect to your group life. Starting or ending meetings with check-ins is one way that leaders can easily establish this in their groups. Problem solving around homeschooling? Great! Fundraising for a local non-profit who is directly involved with the current crisis? Awesome! Give group members an opportunity to link up around other interests. This can be particularly powerful for virtual groups where members may not be well-acquainted enough with one another to do this on their own.
3. Get creative:
If meeting in person is out of the question right now, as it is for many groups still, consider doing a virtual show-and-tell. Group members can show what else they have going on that they’re deeply invested in, an event that they have coming up that they’re preparing for. Even just sharing selfies from group members’ offices, reading corners, kitchens, or their favorite place to find their personal flow (garden? garage? yoga mat? car wash?) can be fun ways to keep the conversation going. Even just having members share their Spotify playlists is fun but requires little energy investment. Pop culture can be a universal language!!
4. Support member-led initiatives:
When members have a great and doable idea to bring to the group, support it! Hopefully this is a no-brainer for everyone, but we’ll say it. Morale plummets when group members feel that their contributeions and ideas are always going ignored or getting vetoed. Energy creates energy, so if members bring it, leaders should do what they can to encourage it!
5. Cancel email:
We have some thoughts on how (not to toot our own horn but…..TOOT TOOT!) Who among us isn’t at least a little bit bummed out by the constant nagging of a clogged inbox? The complaints are ubiquitous: I get hundreds of emails a day. I can’t find anything I’m looking for. I need to completely overhaul my email but dread the time commitment. Sometimes it seems like email creates more problems than it solves. Frankly, if a message or question can be shared more directly via text or direct message instead of another “reply-all” email, wouldn’t we all prefer that? Sensitivity to finding the communication sweet spot in group communication is major! Consider transferring group chat off of email and onto either a platform designed for rapid text volleys, something like Telegram or WhatsApp perhaps, OR consider really streamlining the system and come to us for your one-stop group command center.
The team at Groupeasy