In response to the uncertainties presented by COVID-19, many teams are working remotely for the first time. If you find yourself leading a virtual team, remember the core goal in business: To create, build and protect relationships.
Here are some ways to humanize your communication and help your team overcome separateness:
Communicating company policy, protocol and best advice is crucial. But go beyond polished, impersonal messages. Speak simply with clarity. Use words that reinforce resilience, faith, care, preparedness, courage and safety.
- Let the team know your goal is to keep the community intact. Invite feedback, listen, and respond. Create a strategy to maintain meaningful contact with one another.
- Human beings need inspiration and purpose. Don’t let this crisis go to waste. Plant seeds for the next thing that’s out there for your business. Start working on the next phase of the masterpiece.
- We once worked with a CEO who was known for sending words of daily inspiration to his employees. You can do something similar, by posting regular video messages, starting a Facebook group, or maintaining a thread for messages of humor and hope.
- Make personal phone calls to teammates and see if they have what they need to be their best. Encourage them to do the same with folks who report to them.
- Pare down the number of people on project teams to allow for intimacy and trust. What virtual workers often lack is the satisfaction of what it means to be a part of a trusting team.
- Discourage an email-and-conference-call team culture. Email is a lean medium. The standard-issue conference call is unsatisfying and draining. It’s important for teams to see each other on video regularly and have one-on-one phone calls from time to time.
Bottom line, take a thoughtful inventory of team communication practices to avoid paying the human and financial cost of separateness. The key to coming through the crisis is how we care for each other in personal interactions.