Strategic Disengagement. It’s not a term you hear much and I remember the first time I did. I was working for a wonderful HR director who had at the core of her intention, the creation of a better culture in the workplace. We work hard in my company – just like people do everywhere. And one other thing we do is become too serious, sometimes too internally focused, and always intensely focused. The culture can quickly turn to too much stress. What I know about over-stressed people is that they go into survival mode, can become territorial, and collaboration can suffer.
That’s when I learned the term, strategic disengagement. It’s a simple concept really – it’s deliberate downtime even during the work day when the intention is to connect as people and not as co-workers. It’s sharing a bit of fun. It’s getting to know each other and our values, hobbies, families, and sense of humor. It’s a release valve for the pressure cooker of an overly focused workforce. It’s also a brilliant concept when trying to re-boot the culture.
The beauty of it is that it can be spontaneous or planned. Planning a work group outing or lunch to celebrate successes, acknowledge people’s accomplishments and milestones, and just have some fun is key to shifting the energy. But so is that spontaneous practice of a mid-day chat over coffee or a quick trip to the ice cream parlor or a walk around the building.
It may not seem intuitive but it is true that sometimes you have to “go slow in order to go fast”. That means, if you build in the down time in order to re-energize, you’ll come back faster. If you take the time to get to know the people as you go, you’ll have the foundation of collaboration when it’s time to solve a crisis or business challenge. I haven’t seen a team or work group yet that didn’t come back from some strategic disengagement with more energy, more focus, and a clearer vision. If it’s not part of your business practice you might consider starting small to test the waters. And this is a great time of year to test it. Laugh a little. Add a bit of holiday cheer and fun to a group meeting. Challenge each other to a “tacky holiday sweater” contest or some other little way of breaking up the monotony of the work day. Do this for you and for your organization and you will all reap the rewards.
Disengage and be blessed!