In this digital-age leaders are already vying for attention from their teams. The digital divide has happened. People are distracted by social media, glued to their mobile devices for texts, email and calls. Now people are not even in the office anymore – no more social pressure to stay focused. How can you emerge victorious and increase both emotional closeness and engagement? Here are a few ideas:
- Move your 1:1 and team meetings to a video platform as video requires more engagement than a phone call, and you can see physical cues versus relying solely on voice inflections.
- You need to prepare for your communications – especially when you are home. Keep distractions to a minimum and know that things will come up. Tell people when you first get on the video what your situation at home is – ie young children, the contractor, the dogs, deliveries, etc.
- Real-life can be messy – interruptions happen. Be yourself and be vulnerable to allow your team to be open about the interruptions, be curious about their children, or pets. At the beginning of the call be sure to check in with all participants – be sure they are ok, and understand that this is very disruptive to everyday business.
- We are all adjusting to this rapidly imposed behavior change – not everyone on your team will embrace the changes, and some will need more assistance adjusting. Pair people up so they can help each other.
- Acknowledge the circumstances you find yourselves in, be vulnerable and share what you struggle with and leave room for open discussion, watch your team start to relax.
- When you communicate expectations on a daily, weekly, monthly basis – it keeps people focused on the right priorities. You establish new routines and lay the path forward, set up a path for people to follow. Everyone understands their role, and you bring teams together. We are just doing this in a distance learning format.
Identify which remote tools you want to use to communicate with your teams.
- In addition to the video communications platform, you will likely also want to use accountability and project tracking tools. I use a tool called Monday.com to manage communications across distributed teams, it helps me keep track of what was said to whom, and what the next steps are. It is very simple and easy to use and comes with templates already made, including a COVID-19 communication plan.
- Listen for what is being said and or not being said. Listen for tone, tension in the voice, and word choices. Listen for hope, optimism, and despair. You need to provide leadership and comfort. Your people are scared, as we live in a highly unpredictable time. Be the light, extend hope, generosity. Communicate hope and faith – this too shall pass.