Counting (On) Emotionally Significant Interactions

One of the things that people ask us about the most is, how come that when looking at the dashboard part of the Psychological Safety Works solution, some dials and implicitly scores, are aggregated from all the answers of the team members and therefore they are a general for the entire group, whereas some scores (Empathy, Positivity and Leadership) are individual and refer to the Team Leader only. 

We anticipated the question and slight confusion and could have easily avoided it by clever UX but we were adamant in design that this is all about personal responsibility in a leader. That they are now able to easily see what’s happening with their team and take a series of actions to improve the states it finds itself in. So measurements on how they are doing on these three important topics were paramount. In our testing, the numbers proved motivational in ambitious team leaders. A FitBit for team leader’s EQ, if you will. 

Awareness is necessary but not enough, so the next step has to be “now what?”. Our Emotional Intelligence Trainer (still under construction) is the main part of that next step. It will make self-unaware, middle managers into mindful great leaders. It won’t be easy work to do and it will take time though. 

What about meanwhile? What is a Team Leader looking at the PSW dashboard today and seeing that their team is all of a sudden weakening on resilience and courage or their engagement is low, to do before such a time that they have completed their transformation to great leader? 

They can try the monthly challenge for instance. On the same dashboard, depending on the states the team is in when we break down their degree of Psychological Safety, AI is offering ideas for exercises designed to improve or eliminate a certain group behaviour. 

If your team’s morale is dropping you may get one designed to strengthen the emotional bond between team members such as “Start every stand-up with asking what the morning commute was like or what each team member watched on Netflix the night before this month”. And so on. 

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Similarly immediately helpful, we have introduced a “COACH ME!” button which will function as a panic button bringing a network of coaches we have curated (or those provided by the enterprise) closer to the “moment of head-scratching”. 

But obviously, while very necessary, both those supportive features are about intervening once the team leader notices the team is dropping in any of the areas which should be stable to be Psychologically Safe: Openness, Resilience, Courage, Engagement, Learning or Flexibility. 

Correcting is great, preventing is better. To prevent the drops, team leads need to do many things that see them focused on their teams. 

Perhaps the most valuable of these actions, as anyone knows, is to have 1-on-1s with every team member. Unfortunately, with busy lives and organizational constraints, those 1-on-1s are either forgotten or done as a sterile exercise or done once in a blue moon as a caricature of some performance review. 

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Seeing how critical it is to ensure the team lead does 1-on-1s and, furthermore, redefines them to what they should be – involved emotional interactions of whatever form, length or frequency, we’ve introduced a 1-on-1 counter on the dashboard. A little checkbox by the side of the name of the team member that lets the leader know if they haven’t paid enough attention to them as of late. 

We will be training each leader to recognise the emotional value of each moment – length and formality are unnecessary but correctly appraising how involved of a moment they have had with someone is crucial and should be done regularly. We then encourage them to spend time thinking of “how much?” and “how often?” for each of their team members which de facto implies they’ll spend time “hearing” and “seeing” them. 

For some, that box can be ticked at the end of an intensive water cooler moment or a theoretical debate on a technical solution; or even because of a couple of liked Slack comments, but in other cases, it may involve a lot more – perhaps a night out at the pub complete with deep confession and camaraderie. 

Each individual needs different levels of attention but for the Team Leader, knowing they have to discern between their needs and do so regularly enough while being reminded by the 1-on-1 interactions box, is a crucial skill. 

So the “1-on-1 Interaction” box it’s a tiny feature designed not only to make anyone’s life easier but to introduce nuance and mindfulness in their emotional interactions.

Many will object against it claiming they are doing just fine with a similar list they are holding “in their heads” and they don’t need something else to fill in, but once they have tried it, they will understand the power of the artefact, of having it in front of their eyes as a constant reminder of the permission and need to construct emotionally significant moments with their team.

Here’s the beauty of this – you don’t need our software to start this work if you’re a team leader. Start today: get your own tick-box – translate it from “in your head” to paper or to some app’s list. It’s this simple: write the name of teammate and ask yourself as often as you can “Have I had an emotionally significant interaction with them lately? Are they being seen?” 

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