If you are a leader who likes to hold regular check-ins with your team, or you feel that you ought to check-in but you’re not confident or motivated to do this, this post is for you.
Whether you and your team are all working from home, on the frontline or going into work as a member of an essential business, keeping connected with your people is obviously even more important in these volatile and uncertain times. Anxiety loves isolation!
But check-ins can become a bit old, and business-as-usual, once they have been used a few times. What starts as a refreshing innovation soon becomes a habit and can lose its zing.
So, I just want to share a check-in tool with you that we use at Cru, so you have an extra resource. It’s a tool that combines reflection and action, creating a combined effect of surfacing wisdom and learning and then channelling it into positive, forward-focused action.
So, let’s talk about the Moon now. As you’ll be aware, the Moon changes each day as it goes through its cycle, starting with the New Moon, then 2 weeks later reaching Full Moon and then back to New Moon after another two weeks or so (a full cycle is 29.5 days).
My co-founding director Neill and I use both the New Moon and Full Moon as a stimulus for a check-in with each other, using 2 simple questions. For New Moon we ask each other:
- What new do you want to bring into the world?
- What are you going to do to make that happen?
For Full Moon we ask each other:
- What’s come to completion in the last 2 weeks since the New Moon?
- What are you ready to let go of?
Do you see the combination of reflection and action? There’s an initiating energy with the New Moon and a conclusion-drawing energy with the Full Moon. The action questions open up possibility and also give the space for letting go of bad habits, blockers or energy-drainers. And an added bonus is that the questions put the responsibility for taking action onto the team member. Of course, you can use the questions with a whole team too.
- What new does the team want to bring into the world?
- What has the team brought to completion, etc.
I’m writing this post on the Full Moon, so how about you ask yourself the Full Moon questions right now? Here they are again….
- What’s come to completion (for you) in the last 2 weeks since the New Moon?
- What are you ready to let go of?
I’ll pause now, to let you do that. You should have just experienced a reflective pause followed by a commitment to action. In essence, you have completed a learning cycle. So, what did you learn? You may have found that the most important issues, concerns, successes or stakeholders came to mind. Or maybe something else? You may have focused on the world outside of yourself. Or you may have focused on your own experience over the last two weeks.
There are no right or wrongs. A “successful” check-in using these questions tends to produce one or two of several outcomes:
- A jumping off the work treadmill and taking a moment to see the bigger picture
- A sense of calmness or stillness
- An insight or revelation
- A confirmation of something you have been thinking about
- An increase in energy and motivation
- A commitment, or re-commitment, to positive action.
Neill and I love the questions because they are a blank canvas. They allow us to check-in with ourselves without any nudge towards what we “ought” to share, or concerns that we need to look good or say certain things to make sure we belong.
Of course, you may have team members who are less keen to share their thoughts and feelings than others – that’s normal. If this gets in the way of you using the Moon questions with your team, give people a chance to write their thoughts down before they share them. It’s often the being-put-on-the-spot that causes people to clam up, not that they don’t have anything to say or aren’t willing to share.
So, that’s how the phases of the Moon can help you to check-in with yourself, and with your people. It’s two check-ins a month. You should find that people find them novel and engaging, not something to grin and bear. The Moon dates for June and July are below. You can easily search online for the dates after July – just search for “lunar phases 2020”.
- New Moon – 22 May
- Full Moon – 5 June
- New Moon – 21 June
- Full Moon – 5 July
In our book Adapt, Grow, Achieve, we explore Ronald Heifetz’s concept of “Balcony and Dancefloor”. Leaders spend most of their time on the dancefloor, but getting up to the Balcony is crucial for:
- Keeping an eye on the bigger picture
- Noticing broad patterns, changing trends and circumstances
- Changing energy from frenetic action to calmer authority
- Putting the work at the centre and keeping aligned with what’s right
- Avoiding being seduced by hungers or triggered by fears
The Moon check-ins are a practical way for leaders to take themselves from the dancefloor to the balcony – and it might only take 5 minutes. So, what’s your next step? Will you check-in with yourself on 22 May, and with your team? May be you could peer check-in with another leader in your organisation? How will you benefit if you do this? What will you put at risk if you don’t do this? Thanks for reading!
Trevor Cousins is a Founding Director of Cru Leader Development. He has been trained in Immunity to Change coaching by Prof. Robert Kegan and Dr. Lisa Lahey and is a graduate of the Art and Practice of Leadership Development programme at Harvard University. He has a successful track record in developing leaders and supporting people across a range of industries to make lasting changes.