“Mōrena! How are you feeling today?”
This is how we kicked off our morning stand-up during lockdown at my previous workplace. Pretty standard.
The only rule was that no one (including me!) was allowed to reply with "okay", "fine", or "good thanks". Pretty standard responses to our pretty standard kickoff, but ones that dodge the real intention of that question.
Instead, we started using a graphic we found online (a version of Plutchik's wheel of emotion, based on eight core emotions and their more or less intense variations) to help vocalise what we were feeling each morning. Because it’s not always easy to pinpoint our emotions, this helped kick-start some interesting conversations. Over time people felt more open to share how they were feeling. We were there — as a team — to listen and empathise.
By knowing more about what we were really going through …
- "This morning, I feel anxious. I have to hand over files to the dev team in Ireland, and I'm worried that I might have missed something."
- "Today, I feel buzzy! It's rubbish day, and on my morning run, I love to do hurdles over people's recycling bins. I’m an athlete!"
- "I feel thankful and valued. Thanks for back-up yesterday to answer those curly client questions."
- "This morning I felt a bit guilty because my kids want to spend time with me but don't understand I need to work."
- "Today I'm super pumped as we have no new cases in NZ. Woop! Woop!"
… we were able to create a space for celebration, feedback, and support.
When we returned to working in the office, it was super cool to have learnt more about each other and know we were part of a tight-knit team that made it through lockdown. Bonus fact: by connecting better as a team we were also able to produce better work!
Lockdown levels have changed up and down since then, and I’ve joined Springload, but my 2020 learning still stands true: create the space to dig a little deeper and encourage more detail than just “I’m fine”.