Before being furloughed as the coronavirus crisis began, Leading Results’ Jane Hemus explained how crucial good communication is at every level for adopting to virtual meetings.
Before we go any further, let’s start by thinking about the benefits of effective communication:
- Builds trust, creates and strengthens relationships
- Prevents or helps solve problems
- Provides clarity and direction
- Increases engagement
- Improves productivity
- Promotes team building and collaboration
For some of us, this will be the first time we will have had to think about how we communicate with our teams remotely. But it is now a very real and immediate challenge which we have to overcome. If we don’t get it right, all the benefits above are at risk.
So, here are some tips on how to make good progress:
- The ideal time to do this for you, may not be the best time for the other person. So check in with them and decide on a time that is good for both of you.
- Vary the way you do this. Calling them every day may feel suffocating for some people and potentially, if you’re their manager, even feel like you are micro-managing them. This approach could feel like you’re checking up, rather than checking in.
- Talk to your team and ask them what methods they would prefer and with what frequency they would like check-ins to take place.
It is important to make regular and predictable contact. Enable your team to consult with each other and have a platform where they can ask questions, be heard and discuss concerns.
Methods of communication
Let’s get creative with this because email is not going to always do the trick. It can be highly misinterpreted depending on the mind-set of the person receiving it.
- Virtual meetings – These can replace our face-to-face interaction. This can feel personal and you have the advantage of picking up visual cues from your team members’ body language. Platforms to consider using include: Zoom, Facetime and Skype.
- Instant messenger – This is useful for the whole team to communicate with each other quickly and maintain that social contact. It is great for regular updates, motivation, fun and for sharing pictures too. These include: WhatsApp, Messenger and Google Hangouts.
- Email – It has great benefits such as communicating detailed information, great for large groups and of course, you have a trail. As I have said earlier, however, it should not be our only method.
- Online forum – This is a fabulous way to share best practice with each other, encourage peer collaboration and generate ideas (intranet work groups, Slack, Microsoft Teams etc.).
Encourage social interaction
One of the biggest things we soon miss is the social interaction with people at work. So, make sure we allow time for this at the beginning or end of a call, or why not go a step further:
- Virtual group workout – There is extensive research into how exercise stimulates the blood flow to the brain and in turn, makes us more alert and contributes to us being more productive. If nothing else, it’s a bit of fun together.
- Virtual pizza evening – Just for your information, you can choose to eat whatever you like, but if you are used to going out for dinner with your team this can be nice downtime to talk about other things.
- Activities – Try team building activities like getting to know each other better, what motivates us individually and as a team? Socially, games like Articulate could provide some light entertainment.
This may feel a little artificial or forced but can help reduce the feeling of isolation and promote a sense of belonging.
Communication is key in any relationship, whether that be with family, friends or work. Now is the time to get creative with how we do it.