No one has playbook for this! We are all figuring out how to manage in the coronavirus times. Keeping a team working well together is never an easy task. Now with enforced remote working and increased stress levels it’s easy for a team to dissolve into a group of individual players. Along with the steps you’re already taking here are five ideas to help you to keep your team working together:
Start with the personal
With remote working the team miss out on the binding personal connections that happen naturally in an office – the chat in coffee room about the weekend. With remote meetings, there is a tendency for everyone to jump online and wait in silence until the meeting starts. Start your meetings with a personal question. Go around the virtual room and ask everyone how they are managing working from home. Or try a mindset check-in [link] and ask people what’s on their mind at the moment. It will help them focus on the meeting.
Amp up your digital body language
In face-to-face meetings, we can see other people’s expressions and see when nod agreement or when they’ve stopped paying attention. On-line we miss all these cues – video may help but only in small groups. Express your thanks and positivity out loud (and often) because they can’t see you smiling and nodding your approval. Ask more questions to check- in with people, get them to put an emoji in on the chat when they like something they’ve heard.
Engage every 5 minutes
Distraction is the biggest single problem with remote meetings. And we’ve all done it whether it’s answer emails, surfing the internet or filing our nails. To make sure people are mentally, not just physically, there then set yourself a goal to quick interaction every 5 minutes. Ask a question of a person, or ask everyone to write a thought in the chat, ask for an emoji to react to the last slide.
Double up making all team members visible
It is easy to hide on a video call. If you’re used to working F2F you’ll know the people who need to be encouraged more to speak out. Double up these efforts in video calls.
Acknowledge the anxiety
Anxiety is spreading faster than the coronavirus. Acknowledge that stress is having an impact on all of us and encourage the team to practice self-care – sleep, physical movement, eating well and being grateful. As a leader, lead by example by talking openly about your self-care strategy.
It’s a new world order and we’re all learning how to adapt. Your actions as a team leader have a ripple effect on your team and down to their teams. Small actions, like those suggested above, will make a difference to keeping your team engaged and working together, and can build an even stronger team for when the crisis is over.