How Managers Can Strengthen Team Connections During Times of Change

March 25, 2020      By Karina Schultheis

Ultimate Takeaway
  • During times of change, managers are positioned to proactively strengthen team connection and culture.
  • Long-term trust is built through honesty, openness, and listening to and acting on feedback.
  • Setting clear expectations and acknowledging a job well-done are more important than ever when stress and uncertainty are high.

We’re living in a time of unprecedented change, but even under more “normal” circumstances, transformation and uncertainty are foundational to business (and life). Whether navigating challenging circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic or positive ones like unprecedented periods of growth, managers have the ability to proactively strengthen team connections during times of change. Here are some tips to help keep your team engaged, even amid the most turbulent situations.

(Tune in tomorrow to hear Fortune 500 executive and TEDx speaker Peter Lynch discuss how to build connections across your team in the middle of a crisis.

1. Be open and honest

In some situations, leaders may be limited in what they can share, but you should always aim to provide your team with whatever information you can in a timely and professional manner. When things are changing quickly, access to information is comforting and helps to maintain a small sense of control. Fostering open discussions with your team about what’s going on, what it might mean for them, and when you expect to have more information will help build trust and strengthen team connections. (Fun fact: Research suggests trust is the single most important thing in an employer-employee relationship.) This also gives you an opportunity to address your team’s fears and concerns and build the understanding that “we are all in this together”—which is a powerful motivator and cohesion builder.

2. Set clear expectations and responsibilities

If anything is changing on your team—structure, responsibilities, strategy, etc.—it’s crucial that you address these changes as soon as possible and clearly define roles and expectations. Be sure to include insight and input from your team so that you’re setting realistic deadlines and goals. It’s also a good idea to be extra-accessible during times of change, so you’re available to answer any questions or clarify new projects as they come up.  

3. Keep your team involved

Remember: You hired your people for a reason. Trust is a two-way street, and in order to be an effective leader you must demonstrate your trust in your team’s abilities. Great leaders also know that listening is just as important as communicating—if not more so—and this is particularly true during times of uncertainty and additional stress. When your people feel trusted and relied upon, they are likely to feel motivated and connected. Your ability to make good decisions as a leader also relies upon insight from your team, so ensure you’re listening closely to their feedback.

4. Acknowledge your people

When your people have been working hard in the face of change, don’t forget to show your genuine appreciation. Saying “thank you” in a meaningful way can look like a spot bonus, an afternoon off, a handwritten note or heartfelt email. The key is to genuinely acknowledge their contributions. Your people are your business. Make sure they know that their hard work is being seen and is making a difference.  

What other ways can you strengthen team connections during times of change? Let us know how you’ve managed in the comments below! Click here to hear Peter Lynch discuss how to build connections across your team in the middle of a crisis.


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  1. Avatar Cathy Williamson on April 2, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Very helpful – thank you for these reminders of how to stay connected. I like the idea of sending personal, hand-written notes to my team as they are all very stressed and I think this personal touch would be appreciated!

    • Karina Schultheis Karina Schultheis on April 6, 2020 at 5:00 pm

      Fantastic, Cathy! Just today I received a small gift and note from my manager in the mail – it truly made my day, and lowered my stress levels/increased my dopamine immediately. I know a handwritten note would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for reading!

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