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How to support people as we emerge from lockdown?


Make relationship skills central

I bet if you asked anyone what the trickiest aspect of their working life is they would say working with people! That’s what I would say, too – in all our wonderful humanness we have great capacity to muddle things up, get things wrong, avoid conflict and take our own bat and ball home rather than working on developing our capacity to relate and engage openly, honestly and with warmth.

It’s not easy! It takes skill, and staying awake to your own blind spots, to do this effectively. Thankfully, these skills can be learned, including giving and receiving feedback – feedback that supports your colleagues to embrace their roles and work well together. Being open to really hearing when others let you know you have done a great job or what you might do differently to do it even better.

We know human beings are naturally social creatures. And when you consider that we spend roughly one-third of our time at work it’s clear that good relationships with colleagues will make our jobs more enjoyable.

The more comfortable you and your colleagues are around each other, the more confident you will feel voicing opinions, brainstorming, and going along with new ideas, for example. This level of teamwork is essential for creativity, innovation and embracing change. And when you experience the success and enjoyment of working together in this way you will want to do it again and again. Learning about and practicing how to be effective in this area is hugely beneficial to you, your colleagues and your organisation.

Working with the organisations that are part of the Oasis Resilience, Adaptability and Wellbeing Network and attending the recent CIPD conference I now see that there is a recognition (not before time!) that relationships and humanness must be at the forefront in organisations if we are to thrive in a post pandemic world. Consider for a moment:

  • How often do you accomplish a deadline or goal or complete a project without help from others?
  • If you are a manager, how many of the great ideas you promote were contributed by staff members?

I believe that in the best workplaces, employers not only recognise, thank and reward the people who contribute to their success, they also invest in enabling people to develop the skills needed to build and maintain quality relationships. It is a worthwhile investment that will pay dividends both now and in the future.

Lise Ribeiro