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Maintaining Structure Under Lockdown

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In these strange, almost unbelievable, times, Focus Group’s sales team is resolute that the show must go on! Finding new ways of working effectively and maintaining contact with colleagues is key - and all achievable thanks to collaborative technology. Stuart Macdonald, Head of Business Development, shares his plans for keeping the teams motivated and inspired…

I’ve been in management now for the best part of a decade now (my hairline can testify to that) and I can count the number of times I’ve worked remotely in that time on one hand. Considering what is going on in the world right now, to say that this has been a bit of an odd week is an understatement.

Salespeople by their very nature are vibrant, excitable individuals. They rely on their interpersonal skills and even charm (in most cases) to do what they do. Speaking as a leader of people, to drive my team forward or get an important message to land with my team, I need to be able to get a feel for energy in the room. I want to ensure all my team are engaged, involve them in the conversation, pick them up when the energy is low. We strive for results but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun along the way.

I speak for all of us at Focus Group when I say we’ve had to get used to and find new ways of working this week. However, as effective leaders managing talented individuals, we don’t focus on the problems, we find solutions.

Maintaining structure

As leaders, we’ve tried to maintain the rhythms and working structures we follow at Focus HQ day in day out and replicate them using the wonders of technology and as ever, try and inject some fun into the conversations at the same time. Microsoft Teams has proved to be a god send. Being able to converse with your team and colleagues whilst still maintaining that face-to-face interaction has proved invaluable. Not only from a work perspective but just on a real basic human level at this crazy time. We’re still doing our morning team briefings as we would in the office, still having effective 121s or just quick catch ups here and there to check in and keep the positivity up.

We’ve been thrust into people’s lounges, bedrooms and kitchens. Colleagues introducing their children, pets and showing off their casual wardrobes has become the norm. Already this week, I’ve met a white cat called Rocky that every bond villain would be proud of, had a chat with a colleague’s parents and noticed that many of us have taken to wearing hats indoors as opposed to doing their hair.

Switching it up!

Impromptu break time quizzes on ‘Houseparty’ have become the norm and, although I said I worked with charming, talented individuals, I can confirm that there are amoebas on Saturn with more general knowledge than some of said individuals!

We’ve also had to get creative with some our incentives, as we won’t be doing the ‘get the bouncy ball in the bucket from the other end of the office’ challenge for a while now. So, this week, we’ve been offering free Deliveroo for those who continue to over perform, which has certainly gone down well!

The end of this week will see us having virtual team drinks in our virtual pub, aptly named the Cock and Bull. I will be looking to team members to bring something random from their house to share with the group. I can’t recall doing show and tell with a beer in hand before. I’ll also be asking each team member to select a tune each to play from the juke box and may even encourage a team dance off - I’ll be judging!

Despite this being a bizarre week, it has shown everyone that we can still function effectively. Just like the rest of the country, we are pulling together, knowing that we will get to the other side of this but that we are learning a lot as we go about who we are and maybe even getting to know our colleagues better than we did before. Stay safe people.