‘Battle Buddies’ – Balance In Practice: Adaptive Leadership, Part 8

This is the eighth in a series of blogs on adaptive leadership.

In our previous blog in this series, I talked a bit about the idea of having “battle buddies” … peers who have a check-in system with each other. It can foster a greater sense of team work, and act as a sort of ‘early warning alert’ about any team member who may be having issues with their work-life balance.

A question on this topic was asked to me:

What’s the best way to implement the ‘battle buddy’ system? Does a leader assign them?

I prefer asking for volunteers first. In some cases you might have to assign them. I think if the leadership team volunteers and establishes their own “battle buddies,” then other people can say, “Okay, I can do that.”

battle buddies
(Volunteering is the best way, but in some cases you may have to say to someone — as we used to say in the Army, “You’ve been volun-told.” While some people will have to be “voluntold” for battle buddies, it’s going to work a lot better if it’s voluntary.)

Another question on this topic was:

Our work culture is heavy on relationships, and dropping in on one another in the office is the usual pattern. How can we mimic that in this tech culture, where meetings aren’t spontaneous or casual?

Simply put, I think that’s when you just pick up the phone and call somebody. It’s not scheduled or announced. You might text them first and say, “Hey, you got a couple of minutes to talk?” That way, if they do need to step away from what they are working on, they can do that and talk with you for a few minutes.

But I think the more spontaneous the better, which will achieve more of that spur-of-the-moment effect, similar to the way people would just drop in on one another in person. You can even try doing three or four of those spontaneous contacts a day.

In addition to texting and calling, FaceTime or one-on-one Zoom meetings is also a good idea because you get visuals as well as audio.

Something else discussed in our previous blog was the idea of having socialization be a recurring part of a hybrid (remote/in-office) work life — virtual happy hours at the end of a meeting, taking the time to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries.

A question on that topic when mentioned is:

Would you consider inviting all team members to a virtual social meeting every week, i.e., a forced enforcement, if their manager is setting it up?

I believe some virtual meetings should be mandatory, but when it comes to virtual social meetings, I would be more selective and entertain the idea of just having some fun together. Make it clear that you’d like folks to join in and talk about enjoyable things they’d like to do.

You should also personally support social meetings and let members of the team know that, at a minimum, you’d like to see them passively get behind social meetings. Although it might not top your list of things you’d like to do right now, there are other people on the team who might really benefit from it.

My feeling is that it’s worth spending the extra half hour on a session to promote a social gathering—it’s not too much to ask during these extraordinary times. Unless you’re having nonstop meetings for 10 hours a day! Show respect for your team members’ time.

In most cases, giving people the opportunity to spend a few more minutes in a social situation as part of the overall meeting can be truly beneficial. It is unlikely folks are going to strenuously object, especially if they understand why, so make sure to explain that it is for the benefit of the team as a whole.

The combination of “battle buddies” and the occasional virtual social gathering are simple but effective ways to help your team members feel cared for and valued. It is also a way to see who might be having problems so resources and assistance can be given to a team member who is struggling.

This blog is based on my eBook “Who Saw This Coming?” You can get a free downloadable copy of the entire eBook here.

Enjoy the Journey!




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