As Consultants, we’ve all been there. Those “perfect storm” periods when everything piles up at once, deadlines are tight, and everyone around you is all kinds of stressed. Our team was having one of those times, with everyone busily preparing for a flurry of events, conferences, and leadership briefings on top of our normal (full-time!) workload. As one of the leads on the team, I noticed that the team’s typical enthusiasm and energy was lacking, and our “vibe” had become less-than-peachy as we hustled to meet our many priorities – all of which seemed urgent.
Enter the inimitable Courtney Mainwaring, who managed to turn it all around through the power of kindness! Courtney has always been one of the strongest champions of our team’s culture and well-being. She is known for finding the silver lining or lessons to be learned from every challenge and has even led mindfulness and meditation sessions for our team to help us learn to manage stress and bring our best selves to the table.
Amid our team’s period of high stress, Courtney proposed that we participate in “World Kindness Day.” She assigned each of us a “secret buddy” to delight with small acts of kindness each week leading up to the actual event. To kick off the series of kind acts, one of our team members set up an anonymous Gmail account to email his buddy shout-outs based on the great work she does every day. On a different occasion, folks returned from a client meeting to find a hot cappuccino waiting on their desk.
Increasingly, our team workspace was filled with the sound of team members offering to help each other with deliverable development, pick up lunch for someone crunching on an assignment, and providing praise for one another’s many successes.
When World Kindness Day arrived, we revealed the identities of our secret buddies and reflected on how it felt to intentionally focus on practicing kindness. We agreed that it felt just as good to be on the giving as the receiving end of an act of kindness, and that this “feel-good feeling” prompted many of us to continue seeking out opportunities to lend a hand to a teammate in need. Generally, we learned to focus on the many positive things happening around us and pay less attention to the annoying or stressful moments in the day.
Since we began this practice, I am proud and moved to see the way that our team has continued this approach to working together. Courtney helped us strengthen our muscle memory for kindness, compassion, and teamwork. While we still focus on delivering excellent work products, we have learned to pay just as much attention to celebrating each other and supporting each other so that we can continue to learn, grow, and triumph as a team.