Post-Holiday Dread? 5 New Year Team-Working Tips from the Pig Wrestling Creators

Posted on 7th January 2019 by Martha Greengrass

It’s tough getting back to work after the holidays. For many of us returning to the office after a few weeks of blissful rest and relaxation can conjure a lingering feeling of dread. As a manager, it can be particularly daunting if you feel like you’re returning to team conflict that didn’t quite get solved before the holidays. But help is at hand...

Start the year afresh and get your team to work together, with five tips for managers from top performance psychologists Pete Lindsay and Mark Bawden, the authors of Pig Wrestling.

1. Be curious

Always be curious about how different people in your team might be viewing the situation you’re returning to. If you’re feeling dread about going back to work and a team that doesn’t work well together, it’s likely you may have quite a fixed view of your predicament and the issues your team are facing. Try and veer away from your default approach to the problem and get curious about a different way of viewing it. Within the pig wrestling method, this is part of ‘problem cleansing’ and it involves always bringing fresh eyes to an existing problem.

2. Reframe the issue

As a leader, you should be the first person to be willing to move their perspective on a problem. If you’re facing a challenging situation and it’s causing you dread, the frame you’re perceiving the problem through just isn’t useful. This is a good opportunity for you to look at the issue through a different lens and find a different way to describe it to yourself. Perhaps you’ve been telling yourself that your team doesn’t get along due to interpersonal conflict, but what if it’s actually due to different working styles? You always have a choice in how you view a problem, and this informs how you deal with it. If you’re flexible about shifting your perspective on the issue, it will get solved much more quickly. 

3. Be willing to tolerate the differences in your team

It’s important to not only tolerate the differences in your team, but if possible even amplify them. The best teams work together successfully if there is a common way of operating and a shared set of values, but divergent ways of thinking. This requires the members of your team to be tolerant of different ways of thinking, and not perceive them as a threat. If you can see the value in different approaches, they instead become new strengths and opportunities.

4. Be vulnerable

Demonstrating vulnerability as a leader and openly admitting you may have misjudged something or approached an issue the wrong way can be very helpful in establishing trust. When someone admits they were wrong, people have a natural tendency to reciprocate and admit their faults too, which will lead to them re-evaluating how they have been approaching the issue. This leads to open, effective communication which will prove to be much more useful when tackling future problems.

5. Consider the story you’re telling yourself

Feeling some dread going back to work after the holidays is natural and we all experience it. But if this is a persistent issue, consider what you may be telling yourself about the situation you’re walking into. Are you convinced work going to be a nightmare? Are you picturing one of your teammates causing a conflict? Are you certain your team won’t make that deadline? Consider the story you’re telling yourself, the assumptions you’re making and if they’re serving you well. If your story is negative, you’re bound to be looking for the negative only. Take a positive approach and focus on when things do go well, and actively note under what circumstances the problem doesn’t occur.


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