The End of the Beginning

Margery has put together some reflections following our latest Webinar to help you in thinking of the best strategies you can implement which encourages your team in taking the initiative and developing a sense of team cohesion and purpose.

On Tuesday we held a conversation with Charlie Johnston thinking about the mindset and approaches to managing your team in the circumstances that we find ourselves. It is increasingly obvious as we move out of crisis mode and into the “new norm” that we are going to have to adapt our ways of working and by association that requires a shift in the way that we approach managing teams.

Charlie introduced us to the constructs of social loathing and social labouring to help us to differentiate between approach which encourage team collaboration and improved productivity. This is routed in the idea that when more than one person gets involved in a task, it is possible that an individual may slack off and rely on the others rather than giving maximum effort. Think of an individual pulling a rope – when they are on their own they have to give it all that they have got but when others get involved their individual effort can be masked and become less.

Alternatively, the concept of social labouring encourages us to take the initiative to develop a sense of team cohesion and purpose. Think of Team Sky on the Tour de France, where it is the input of all team members that that delivers the result for the team, albeit that one individual may win the race supported by the others.

A Summary Of Social Loathing v Social Labouring:

1. Social loathing originated with Ringelman and is the idea that if get a team working on one task then perhaps not all the team will pull their weight and as a result productivity drops.

2. Social labouring is the opposite as you create a sense of team identity and cohesion through:

• Common vision and goals leading to strong team identity.
• Thought and quotient leadership.
• Positive characteristics of emotional intelligence.
• The creation of a trust bank.
• Irrespective of physical boundaries, you look to create social cohesion.

My experience in the past few weeks is that remote working relies on trust. Placing your trust in others to carry out their responsibilities to the standards expected; to look after themselves and others to keep safe and well; and that they will highlight problems or difficulties so that you can together solve them.

Developing trust takes time and now is the time to ensure cognitive priming. The time to put down the foundations of relationships of trust which may take a bit of time and will pay dividends.

Ideas About Developing that Relationship of Trust?

1. Each business will need to determine their own, bespoke operational ‘new norm’ and the concept of social labouring is not a quick fix, but you will already have a focus and momentum in establishing it. You might think about involving your employees about how that would work in practice.

2. In the last few weeks businesses have had to trust colleagues and let them get on with manageable tasks. This is a key cornerstone for developing social labouring but as you have had to adjust very quickly already you have already laid the foundations. You could also ensure that you give authentic and grounded feedback on their contribution and recognise their participation.

3. Digital leadership will become more and more prevalent as you shape the direction and positioning of the social cohesion. You should as consider enhancing the concept of ‘mission command.’

4. Keeping employees informed about business performance, challenges that you will face and opportunities that may present themselves.

5. Giving employees the opportunity to learn or develop news skills that may make a big difference to your business.

6. Invest time and emotional space with your employees, recognising that they will have good days, good bits of days and other bits that are not so great; that they may be having a tough time with family and home life; listening is the best skill to have as you will not have all the answers.

Follow Up With Us For Advice & Support

There is lot to think about and there are practical ways in which we can help and support you and your business.

Please do reach out, give us a call and we will listen in the first instance and then discuss options and possible approaches we can take.

Contact us via phone on 0131 225 7458 or email us at

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