“Todd… you’re on mute. We can’t hear you…”
“Yes, we can see your screen. Oh wait…we lost it.”
“Oh, Karen you broke up. Would you mind repeating yourself?”
Sound familiar? It’s all too familiar to us too! According to Zoom, the platform is hosting 300 million daily meeting participants! That number is mind blowing and they are only one of many platforms. It goes to show the majority of the country is on some version of a digital meeting platform throughout the week. Throw in school aged children and that is an even more mind-blowing number!
We’ve all heard and maybe even experienced the horror stories of meetings gone wrong. From the children zoom bombs (OK, those are cute not horrific!) to the actual unwanted guest “appearances” in meetings. The potential for error is high. And it’s enough to keep any leader or manager up at night.
Despite all of this, some fun things have come out of this new work trend as well. For one, there is the #WFH (work from home for those not up on your hashtags) new dress code. You know, the work shirt on top and pj’s on bottom? A few MAC6 team members and community members even participated in a #WFH2020 photo shoot. If you also would like to capture this moment in time, reach out to the fantastic Gordon Murray!
Then, there are all the games that have been made out of the ridiculousness that inevitably happens on these calls. Our friends at Resound Creative even made Zoom Bingo so you can have something to do while your waiting for Todd to locate the un-mute button.
But in all seriousness, something important is happening as we navigate our new digital relationships with our coworkers. No longer are we able to pop into someone’s office to catch up or ask about their family. Less face time means less opportunities for the very important trust and rapport building that organically happens in an office. For most teams, meetings begin with jumping right into the call with the topic at hand. Thus, skipping over the chance to truly and authentically connect. The other phenomenon that is happening is voices are being muted. Literally and metaphorically. The members of a team that are quiet, prefer more time to process or are reserved could refrain from jumping into an already loud or chaotic call. It takes an aware leader to make sure everyone has a chance to step away from the mute button during a meeting.
With the additional complexity of team communication, we wanted to offer a few simple tips to make sure you continue building trust while maintaining clear and authentic communication among team members.
5 TIPS TO BUILD TRUST + IMPROVE COMMUNICATION VIRTUALLY
- Start your meetings with a check-in. Something as simple as have each person share their personal best and professional best from the last 7 days. Simple, effective, and only takes a few minutes.
- Schedule time to connect. The way you do this is really dictated by your team culture. Some teams have had big success with a Friday afternoon happy hour, other teams have played an online game weekly as a way to connect on a more personal level, and others have had a meeting specifically to check-in with each other by answering the question, “How are you…really?” Do what feels right for your team but make sure to do something.
- Create space for everyone to participate. Utilize the chat function to help those who feel more comfortable commenting vs. speaking up in a meeting. Check in with those you have not heard from during the meeting. However, be careful to not put them on spot or your attempt will have a less than desired effect.
- Understand your team’s communication styles. It is so important to know how each person on your team prefers to receive messages. One way is to take a DISC assessment. As the leader, adapt your style to the person you are talking to.
- If you are not fighting. You are not doing it right. According to Patrick Lencioni, the author of 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, you will know you are in the digital groove when you start having productive conflict. This shows your team has a high level of trust, is maintaining its health and effectiveness. Remember: Productive Conflict – focuses on the issue not the person!
If you think you could use some help with improving trust and communication within your team, reach out! We have many virtual tools that can help and make sure your team never gets disconnected.