Keeping your team together... at a distance

The “lockdown” hit so quickly. Ringing ended very suddenly without any time to plan what the future might be. No time to speak to ringers to find out how they might want to make plans for the lockdown or how they feel about it.

How can a sense of engagement be maintained so that all your ringers will be really keen to return to the tower when the situation returns to normal?

There is very little published work concerning maintaining group or team motivation when the group members are physically separated. Most of the research is to do with togetherness rather than separateness! So the lockdown really does provide challenges for all those involved in group activities including ringing. Bands need to keep their team spirit going during lockdown and social isolation whilst there is no opportunity for teamwork in the tower in the normal way.

The Wellbeing Thesis published in 2000 by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci seeks to explain factors which contribute to the development of intrinsic motivation. It suggests that finding personal significance and meaning in an activity can contribute to a feeling of positive wellbeing. This agreeable sensation leads to individuals valuing their participation and therefore more likely to want to remain engaged. The Thesis builds on previous work published in 1985 by the same authors. In their work on motivation they developed a model know as Self Determination Theory which proposed that people have three basic requirements that need to be fulfilled to develop the sense of inner motivation.

One of these requirements is “Relatedness” and is particularly relevant to enabling our ringers to maintain a sense of engagement during social isolation. Relatedness can be explained by a feeling of belonging or being connected and accepted as part of a group.

This feeling of being valued and connected with others leads on to a sense of ongoing engagement and will enable that feeling of togetherness with others to be maintained. It will nurture the sense of team spirit which is so important to maintaining the band for the future.

To maintain this sense of relatedness, communication is the key. Consider how your band communicates normally and ask yourself does anything different need to be introduced?

Also ask what should be the aims of the tower leadership during lockdown? What do your ringers need to help them still feel engaged with other group members?

When it comes to what type of communication to use there are a plethora of methods. Keeping in contact by phone is good for contacting individuals. Some will use email, some will have a Facebook page. A WhatsApp group is simple to set up and use and allows all members of the tower to post pictures, videos and comments. Some towers may set up get-togethers via Skype enabling ringers to see the others they are chatting with. Zoom is similar, with some towers holding a virtual pub on Zoom with people chatting while they have a drink. For those who want to continue with ringing and running a virtual practice there is the newly set up ringing

As for what to communicate, past events and the future plans as well as the present day are relevant. Reminders and photographs of past events and achievements, reminiscing about past outings and commiserating about current outings which can’t take place could be posted. Plans for what to do when ringing to normal could be discussed. The tower leadership could spawn this from time to time, engendering interactive comments from all band members. Also, advice for online learning could be passed on for those who would like to continue learning during lockdown.

The CCCBR is working on a campaign Ringing Returns. This concentrates on two main areas:

  • How to make best use of time during the restrictions.
  • How we can celebrate a return to ringing once therestrictions are lifted.
  • The whole band could contemplate these two ideas working out how to make this a successful return to ringing for their own towers. Something positive to look forward to when ringing returns.


    Author: Pip Penney