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 limit distractions. How can you emerge victorious and increase both emotional closeness and engagement? Here are a few ideas:

Schedule regular communications

Move your 1:1 and team meetings to a video platform Video meetings require more engagement than a phone call, and you see physical cues and not relying solely on voice inflections

Be prepared, organized, open

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 call what your situation at home is – ie young children, the contractor, dogs, deliveries, etc.

First Check-in, know life can be messy, create an environment of trust.

  • Real-life can be messy – interruptions happen. Be yourself and be vulnerable. 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 your employees are healthy – both physically and mentally. Communicate empathy and let them know that you understand that this stay at home order is very disruptive to everyday business.
  • We are all adjusting to this long term imposed behavior change – not everyone on your team will embrace the changes, and some will need more assistance adjusting. Pair people up, one adjusting well with someone who is not adjusting well, 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.

To increase collaboration, communicate plans & schedules clearly: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly

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 adjusting to performing and executing well in a distance working 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 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.

Last but not least: LISTEN

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, confusion, distress 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 we know that “this too shall pass”, we just don’t know how long it will last.

I am curious as to how you are managing through a complex and rapidly changing world, and if you have any more ideas I can share with other clients. We have no idea how long this crisis will last, or how we will finish, but then again, do we ever know what’s ahead?

Be well, I am here for strategic hires, and to help you build strong teams. Happy to just be an ear to listen, or to cheer you up. Next week we will talk about what recruiters look for in top talent, and how you use this skill to improve your hiring too.