**In this new normal of remote work, how can you help connection thrive and maintain team performance?  We are sharing effective strategies to boost engagement taken from our online Minding the Gap Master Class that are just as helpful in this new virtual world, where the “Gap” can be very evident.

One of the ideas from last week – “Begin Before It Begins” – received this comment from an educator in Nebraska:

“I have been scheduling weekly Zoom calls which have been good but I have been disappointed with the low numbers of students participating.  Then I realized I was only sending out one short post on the Remind App. I decided after reading the post to take more time the day before and send the link by email and text and even Snapchat through my son’s account.  The result was almost every student was on the call!” 

This was one of three ideas in our last post to help get yourself and others connected and perhaps more importantly orient themselves towards the work and each other.  Take a read through our next idea below and see where it may fit for you!

When Standards Fall, Highlight the Non-Normal

Have you noticed a creeping mediocrity in your life or the work of your team or students?  There are plenty of recommendations out there to “take it easy” on ourselves, but when it comes to work and/or learning, you are likely expected to raise the bar (or at least keep it from slipping lower!).  

No worries: try these steps towards an effective practice that checks so many positive benefit boxes in order to “Highlight the Non-Normal”:

  1. Turn up/Tune in your listening.  In order to highlight something you have to notice it first.  Simply reading this post is already tuning your observation systems to be on the alert, now just pay attention.

  2. Notice non-normal participation where someone went farther than usual or expected: they took the extra step, stretched themselves or went above and beyond.  Someone may challenge an assumption, ask a difficult question or volunteer to pursue a complex task. Maybe you hear about or notice someone not giving into complacency, or trying out something off-the-wall.  Whatever raises the bar on your team’s notion of ‘engagement’ or ‘participation’, notice it.

  3. Highlight it!  Shine a spotlight on it in someway: appreciate/acknowledge the person, ask what difference that made, etc. – just do anything you can to put more focus on the action.

By paying attention to whatever that person did that was exemplary, you are shining a light on the quality of participation you want.  When this new kind of participation gets highlighted, there is an implicit permission for others to participate at the same level. In that moment you have interrupted the normal script and moved the relational space to a place of dissonance*. 

As more and more non-normal outputs are highlighted, a new-normal is created: the team now knows that a different kind of participation is standard in this setting.  They will come to expect it and it will even carry over from session to session. As new employees or students join, they will adapt to whatever the ‘normal’ is, so the more engaged the better! 

As the engagement bar gets raised and normalized, you will notice that:

  • people will get more value out of participating at that level

  • people are creating and experiencing heightened relationships with each other and there will be a great sense of belonging, a key predictor of a group’s success.

A final benefit and one we will share about in our next post is this: when you highlight the non-normal, you are helping yourself and others practice being comfortable with the uncomfortable.  Simply put, teams and classes that can master this profound practice see an exponential increase in performance through heightened cooperation, creativity, focus, relationships and more.

As the pandemic alters normal all around us, use this tool to create a new-normal, based on qualities and competencies you want to foster in your team or classroom.

* In our Master Class we highlight this as a significant contextual understanding when working with people and we use the metaphor of the Elephant/Rider developed by Jonathan Haidt and used by Daniel Kahneman to help explain this vital neuroscience and the impact it plays when working to build engagement with individuals and groups.  Check it out here.

Looking for a daily practice to help keep you or others connected to your ‘self’ and the world around you?  Check out The Elementals – a new product from BoldLeaders.