Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

After working virtually for over a year, most employees have now begun returning to the office, and they’re finding that it’s not the same. 

 While the crisis played itself out, these folks kept the wheels turning, doing the necessary work – fulfilling their duties, meeting deadlines, working to achieve goals. Some enjoyed the flexibility of working from home, and most felt satisfaction that they were getting the job done during a rare, extraordinary time. 

But to many, returning to the office surprisingly feels almost as disruptive as being restricted from it in the beginning. Working back into the office routine, joining the office community again, being able to socialize, interact and touch, reminds them of the culture they were missing when being kept apart. Most want this culture back, but the separation experience has left many with a thirst to do more:To reconnect with, and contribute to, a purpose they believe in…To invest their energy in more meaningful work…To make a difference

As their leader, this inflection point for your business presents an exceptional opportunity to start anew with your team. It’s a chance to reset their expectations, to leverage their restored personal connection, and to nurture their aspiration to make a difference. Encouraging them to collaborate in making meaningful improvements will create value for customers, the business and each other. 

Making a difference doesn’t have to involve tackling some major issue; it can start by considering a lesser challenge. Encourage your team to find a small task in which they can cooperate to improve a result, and then support their efforts.  

Motivate your team to be vigilant for other opportunities to improve an outcome – for customers, their associates, or your organization. Making something better for one of these groups often produces benefits for the others. Can cross-functional throughput be accelerated? How might we simplify so we can move faster and with greater agility, without compromising quality?  

Lead by example, engaging with your team and enabling them to take ownership of an issue and improve its result. By acting to resolve a problem, rather than complaining about it, they demonstrate commitment and shared accountability; confidence and teamwork are strengthened, which motivates others to contribute. 

The impact of your team’s efforts to make a difference can have profound effects beyond their personal satisfaction. Working with others to improve something makes their efforts more meaningful. It brings your company’s purpose and values to life for them, synchronizing the work they do with why they do it, which elevates team performance and delivers improved results. 

As your team returns to the office, now is the time to revitalize your culture by challenging them to make a difference

How do you encourage and support “making a difference” with your team?