Social Loafing & Reintegration Anxiety
I’m not one for anthropomorphising the facial expressions of animals for mild humour to make a tenuous point for a business audience but these horses in the picture above look like when you’re on time for the morning tea shout and these dudes got in early and they know THEY just ate the last doughnut that YOU like. Same guys don’t clean the microwave and walk away covertly when the copier flashes ‘replace toner cartridge’.
It’s known as ‘social loafing’. In working from home (wfhlife ) during lockdown some of us haven’t had to deal with these folk for a while. New Zealand’s lockdown shifted down a gear so many workplace teams got physically back together. This sort of thing can create a reaction known as reintegration anxiety. Terry Waite, a famous former hostage held in Iran wrote about it extensively. Normally, reintegration anxiety is expected and experienced by a small number of predictable people at the same time. But, we’re not looking at that sort, we’re looking at the different unexpected ways your entire team might react, and what you can do to mitigate them.
It’s not the big things that make stresses turn into fractures, it’s the straws that break the camel’s back. (Look, I know, ideally, I would’ve used a picture of two camels but I only have horses. In a lockdown, you make do with what you have).
1. Do buy doughnuts partly for their own sake but also as a signal that you’re on the alert that this is a time fraught with potential issues (or doughnut equivalents – your idea of a treat is not everyone’s)
2. Maybe deliver them individually with a personal message?(Checking in on folks privately as you do)
3. Be on the lookout early for social loafing behaviours.(Or other behaviours indicative of people’s anxiety)
4. Provide corrective feedback early and privately, specifying why it’s important.
As leaders, the little things you do now will be disproportionately remembered…
I’m trialling a self-directed course I’ve developed on personal effectiveness. One of the ten lessons within it is on conflict management, a critical element of which is early intervention (what I call ‘behavioural physics’). You get all five of my books (in eBook format) when you sign up. If that sounds of interest, you can learn more at www.lifesuccesslearning.com .
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