Have you struggled to keep your team motivated and connected while everyone is working remote? Consider growing your leadership skills by cultivating a Celebration Mindset with your team.
In September of 2021, I was preparing to start coaching a whole new cohort of beginners. For many cohorts, I wondered how to integrate personal growth and team-based growth into my Learning Experience. What I came up with is an extension of a prevalent concept used to help people learn.
The instruction team spends a significant amount of time and effort to coach people on their communication and teamwork skills - what we call Core Skills. Employers expect software developers to be great teammates before they expect exceptional technical skills.
Since the community realizes that there is only so much technical proficiency that people can attain in 120 days in a structured learning environment, I realized that I could eliminate all the useless noise that other programs force-feed beginners and spend that time developing Core Skills.
The term Growth Mindset, popularized by Carol Dweck, has quickly entrenched itself in modern, enlightened workplaces, schools, and personal lives. It shifts the way you think about your abilities from something static and innate into something that you can change at any time with sound strategies and behaviors.
I coach beginner software developers on this constantly as they are learning the fundamentals. I have changed my vernacular and coaching techniques to focus on helping them become curious, active, engaged learners who can recognize their growth over time. It's impressive to watch.
The only limitation of the Growth Mindset is that it focuses on individual growth.
- How can I learn more effectively?
- How can I gain the skills I need?
What was needed was an additional toolset and rallying cry around how We can grow; teams need to become more resilient and capable along with the individuals that comprise it. The most effective way that I have discovered to enable teammates to feel safe, valued and connected with each other is to celebrate with each other.
I'm not talking about extravagant celebrations with music and cake and drinks, but that's the first thing that people think of when you say the word "celebration". It's seen as a group activity where people are happy; people focus on making meaningful connections with each other through laughter and merriment.
People can celebrate many things together when learning together.
- “We’re excited to share knowledge with our teammates so we can learn together.”
- “I let my teammates know that their questions help me learn.”
- “We embrace that the process of helping others accelerates our ability to learn.”
- “We celebrate each others’ failures and successes.”
- “I tell my teammates when I see their abilities grow, and be as specific as I can.”
These small, but deeply meaningful celebrations can happen every day. They may only take a few seconds, but can have a lasting, positive effect on the relationship you have with your teammates.
I have found intentfully setting aside time for celebrations to be invaluable when working with a remote team. Here are the three specific scenarios I follow:
- Every Friday, I have a meeting with the full-time instructors. During every meeting, I ask the team if anyone has kudos for their teammates. Someone always does, and the expressions of kindness and gratitude has noticeably helped keep us connected when working remote.
- Every Friday, before the end of the day, I close breakout rooms in my Zoom session to let the team know what's coming up in the following week. I ask all of the people in the cohort to give kudos to any of their teammates that helped their learning during the week. Again, this noticeably and tangibly strengthens the bonds of the entire cohort and makes them all want to help each other even more.
- After any significant group project is over during our Learning Experience, we have each team perform the Sprint Retrospective ceremony. In addition to the start Start/Stop/Keep Doing columns, there is also a column labeled Kudos that allows each teammate to celebrate the contributions of the other people on their team. It's always packed with cards, often 3x or 4x times as many as the other columns.