Unless you've been living under a rock for three years, you wouldn’t have escaped the fact that something of national importance is happening. We’re not talking Tommy Fury and Molly-Mae (sadly), we are talking Brexit; that looming economic disaster / exciting sunny upland, depending on which side of the fence you sit on. Not since Touch My Bum by the Cheeky Girls sat at number two in the charts for four weeks, threatening to reach number one, has the nation been so enthralled by a nerve-wracking will-it-won’t-it spectacle. Will we leave on Oct 31st, will there be a hard border in Ireland, deal or no deal, will there be a Manchego shortage?
While we can joke (we’re Laughology, that’s what we do), the uncertainty that we’ve all experienced since the referendum in 2016 has affected businesses, organisations, people and families. If your job is helping people to stay positive and happy, it has been a particularly difficult time for you, and as the October 31 deadline looms, there is still a large degree of uncertainty about what might happen. Hopefully the optimists are right and just like the Millennium we’ll get through it without spontaneously combusting or planes falling out the sky – who knows?
What we do know is there will be some uncertainty no matter what happens, and helping teams and individuals navigate through it is important. Here at Laughology we are practical, and we want to help you understand what you can control and can do.
Over the coming weeks, we’re putting together a workplace Brexit toolkit for managers and leaders with a series of blogs to help you and your teams find a way through the mire. To start you off, I’ve cleverly crashed a portmanteau into an acronym to deliver some handy tips. It won’t solve the backstop dilemma or help us get a trade deal with Guinea-Bissau, but I’m proud of it nonetheless.
Bring people together
The biggest challenge Brexit has brought to workplaces, families and communities is disagreement. However, one thing seems to be clear. People want to move forward and move on. Making this clear in your organisation or team. Focus on a positive direction. Encourage people to be respectful of others views and remind them that together is better (without sounding all W1A). Find connections for everyone to coalesce around, whether that be a project or a task within the business. Regular meetings and communications are part of this. Even if there are no updates, reassuring people and giving them a chance to ask questions is important. Make time for a ten-minute catch up with your team once a week, or if you are a larger business, make sure comms are sent out regularly, giving people good information. Websites such as CIPD and the Brexit ready government website will help. Keep the communication simple. What people really want to know in the workplace is how will Brexit affect my job?
The world is changing fast for many reasons, not just Brexit. Technology is changing the way we work, the gig economy is becoming the norm, patterns are changing and resilience is more important than ever. To help build resilience, understand the things around you that are within your control; your family, your support network. Perhaps in your team write a list of things that are in your control and actions you can take to build structure. Create psychological safety with strong social bonds. Also view our FLIP it thinking tool for having conversations to promote resilience and optimism.
Engage people in the future
Engaging people in thinking about the future and having a clear goal to look to will help keep them motived and give them direction. Holding on to big ideas and big goals will keep the momentum going and help focus forward. Be clear about the direction the organisation is heading in, whilst being realistic about how you get there and the challenges at hand.
Xtra learning and workshops (you wondered what I’d do with X didn’t you!)
There may well be new ways of working, so a culture of growth mindset will ensure learning and continuous development becomes the norm. Train regularly for consistency – make sure that all your managers are regularly briefed on Brexit progress and new processes. They need to understand what’s happening in order to feed this down.
Information and support
It’s okay not to know everything – just ask our MPs - but knowing the right stuff and where to access reliable info is helpful. Be aware of misinformation, fake news and promises on the sides of buses. It’s your job as a leader to debunk falsehoods and give good, honest info. Create a culture of fact-based information. Thoughtful, proactive communication will help to temper knee-jerk reactions.
Teams need to be both social and analytical for success. Focusing solely on tasks can work for short periods of time, but over a long haul these behaviours deteriorate social bonds. During times of setbacks, challenges, change, and high demands, leaders must invest in social networks. Celebrate wins, create places for employees to decompress or socialise, share appreciation for others and collaborate.
We hope that helps. Keep checking in for our Brexit blogs and tools and techniques and get in touch if you would like help with anything mentioned in the above information.