You know when things are going smoothly at work. You feel it as much as you see it. I call this rhythm.
We all go through periods of stability and periods of change at work. There are times when our rhythm is consistent, and then there are times when we’re facing a big disruption (as of late, COVID-19), and need to recalibrate our rhythm to match our new surroundings. At times like these, putting deliberate energy into establishing a new rhythm is more important than ever.
Rhythm at work is music to my fears. Sure, “fears” may be a strong word, but having a rhythm and flow to my days, on my teams, and with my clients reduces my anxiety, and brings out the best in me as a problem solver and a consultant.
While music is the creative arrangement of sound, rhythm is the creative arrangement of sound over time. And in the workplace (or home workplace), rhythm is that repeatable, predictable pattern that not only brings about a physical comfort, but an emotional and mental one as well.
Rhythm takes a lot of work to achieve, though. And what makes it challenging for many professionals is that rhythm tends to ebb and flow. If I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, I often want (or need) to make a change. In other cases, outside forces push us to make a change before we’re ready. Lately, my work has been completely transformed by the stay-at-home orders and school closures that have been a part of the COVID-19 health crisis. And when I start something new, it takes a while to build my confidence and be comfortable in that rhythm. There’s this tension between the innate desire or need to change my rhythm and the challenge to find a new one.
The good news? If you’re facing a new reality that is throwing your rhythm way off balance—like a new team, new project, new role, new work environment, or new travel pattern—you can find a new rhythm. You just have to create it yourself. You can’t wait for someone else to create it for you. To create your new rhythm, and keep your anxiety at bay, you’ll need three things: clarity, connections, and consistency.
Part of building rhythm is having a clear direction. To keep from guessing what to do next, seek out feedback and continually check in with your team to understand what’s expected of everyone, who’s playing what role, and what the priorities are. And in the absence of seeing it “on paper,” take the initiative to write it down and check with others for alignment.
Strong relationships are the backbone for creating and sustaining rhythm, because they help you weather the ups and downs. Building genuine relationships with your team members, having fun with them, understanding how they like to work, and identifying what’s important to them will keep you from trying to solve everything on your own. While traditional methods of relationship-building aren’t available to us during COVID-19, there are many ways to build trust from afar. Connecting virtually in intentional ways (video coffee meetings, kind chat messages, thoughtful emails, and handwritten notes) can go a long way in building strong work relationships. Nothing helps to calm your fears like a trusted partner.
Especially when getting into a new rhythm, you want to navigate the uncertainty quickly and get things moving. I recommend establishing standing meetings with your team, using collaboration tools like SharePoint or OneNote, and putting processes in place around tracking progress. Creating a consistent routine gives you the necessary structure and organization to create your new rhythm.
What gives you rhythm at work? While it’s a challenging time to find consistency, if you’re able to carve out even tentative routines, that’s a win. Define it for yourself and establish clarity, connections, and consistency so that rhythm can be music to your fears, too.
Want to connect with Gina? Give us a call at (859) 415-1000 or drop us a line in the form at the bottom of this page.