Helping Your Teammates

Picture this.  You’re a professional footballer in the middle of the pitch in an important game.  The ball is passed to you by a teammate.  You control the ball effortlessly.  You’re well trained, you’ve practised this thousands of times.  You look up for someone to pass to… BUT… all you can see is a sea of shirts of players from the opposition.  Your teammates have seemingly disappeared.  You get tackled, you lose the ball, possession is gone and the other team are now on the attack. When you needed it most, your own team just weren’t there to support you and help you out.

A sporting nightmare.  Yes, probably.

A workplace nightmare. Also, yes probably.

Workplace teams can be there to support you, but in these strange Covid times, they can’t see you.  They can no longer glance around the office and see your body language and sense that you’re struggling.  If they could, they’d be right on it and come over to ask if you needed help.

But nowadays, your struggle happens at home.  Your contact with the team is limited.  They regularly see you on Zoom (mostly from the shoulders up), but those sessions are all about social reconnections and team to-do lists.  Rarely do these conversations stray into how people are feeling about their workload.

That’s because people just assume that if someone else in their team is struggling with something, well they’d just say, wouldn’t they? 

Well, no, not always.

Some people can’t openly admit that they’re struggling – be it with workload, their emotions or their mental health.  They’d see that kind of admission as a sign of weakness.

So, don’t make the assumption that the Zoom smiles of your teammates are a sign that everything in the garden is rosy.  Don’t wait for them to ask for help because that may never happen.

Perhaps break the pattern by OFFERING help first. 

If it’s easier, offer help to anyone, rather than someone specific.  That way it may feel less personalised and if someone does have those guilt / weakness thoughts, they won’t feel so exposed.

Maybe in your next team Zoom session, take a moment to throw in one of these….

  • “Does anyone need any help with anything they’re working on this week?”
  • “I’d like to be able to support you on something you’re doing”.
  • “It’d be good for my development to know more about that thing you’re working on, so can I help you out a bit this week?”

So, don’t be one of those invisible footballers.  Be bold, be brave and call for the ball.  Let’s do everything we can to stop our teammates getting tackled and losing the ball.

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