In his bestseller "the culture code" published in 2018, Daniel Coyle revealed the secrets of high-performing groups in their quest to create and sustain a strong culture, identifying and illustrating 3 core skills that generate cohesion and cooperation. What can we learn from this for executive teams now that the end of the health crisis is finally in sight? What actions should be taken once the lockdown period is over?
Core skill #1: create an environment where everyone feels safe
The forced distancing has weakened the links between the members of the executive teams. Some of these teams, geographically dispersed, have not physically met for over a year! Gone are the informal 1:1 discussions in the cafeteria! Gone are the moments of collective exchange outside meetings! Gone is the principle of a maximum distance of 8 metres to guarantee a sustained frequency of communication!
Recreating proximity as quickly as possible is an absolute priority, in order to allow team members to meet again, to reconnect, to share again these collective rituals, to feel these belonging cues which contribute to the feeling of security and cohesion of the team - we’re a great and safe place to work -.
Action #1: dare to create an event at the beginning of September by bringing your executive team together, far from the office, far from the traditional agenda, with the objective not being the 2021 mid-year business review or the launch of the 2022 budget process... but with the sole - and essential - ambition of reconnecting the team members.
Core skill #2: be uncompromisingly self-critical
Crisis periods are pivotal moments during which executive teams are led to launch new initiatives, to try things out of the box. These are unique opportunities, once the storm has passed, to look back at the course of events, to identify the new - often unsuspected - resources that were mobilised and to learn from the - sometimes unavoidable - mistakes that were made. On condition that you take the time to carry out a structured, in-depth post-action review without the slightest concession.
The time has come to engage the team in a work of analysis & synthesis, combining dialogue and confrontation, during which all team members are encouraged to share their successes, failures, doubts, and to ask for help from their colleagues. Facilitated by an "unmasked" leader, who knows how to be self-critical - there, I screwed up! - and who shares this in complete transparency with his-her team.
Action #2: plan an uncompromising discussion with your executive team to learn all the lessons from the health crisis. In addition to taking stock of what worked well, identify possible areas for improvement by admitting the mistakes that you, first of all, and then your team members, may have made.
Core skill #3: give meaning to your actions
The extraordinary context in which the executive teams have been operating for over a year and the equally exceptional activities they have had to carry out have often blurred the lines of reference. What about the team's raison d'être, its ambitions, a 'meaningful' future to which the current initiatives and efforts of the team and, by granularity, of the whole organisation could be linked?
Putting such existential questions on the next agenda of the executive team is a necessary act of refoundation following the period of unprecedented upheaval that it has experienced and the multiple, often very short-term actions that it has had to carry out. It is a way for it to rethink and even rewrite its future collective adventure in the light of the history it has just lived through.
Action #3: engage your executive team in recalibrating its 'true north', rethinking the inspiration that should lead it and the navigation that should drive it. Identify and rank its new priorities. Clarify the individual and collective behaviours now expected of each of its members. Revisit its operating methods, based on the lessons learned from the health crisis and the clarification of its desired future.
Recreate a secure environment + make an uncompromising self-criticism of past crisis management + give meaning to future actions. 3 core skills to be used, 3 priority actions to be carried out by executive teams when they are back from the summer holidays… before a hasty return to business as usual.