Last week I was speaking to a great client of mine and asking him how his experience of virtual meetings had been going. He responded by saying that he has managed to squeeze in four virtual meetings, in the time it would usually take him to do one meeting in person. So needless to say, he has been saving a lot of time. However, his major concern was how the traditional ‘chit chat’ and relationship building during meetings has absolutely disappeared. People come online, ask one question about everyone’s wellbeing and jump straight into the agenda of the meeting. This is especially the case with his colleagues and the team that he manages.
So with that in mind, I have decided to reveal 3 techniques plus an epic bonus point that you can use to improve the team’s communication, thereby enhancing the relationship with your team:
Remember the Details
If you’ve tried small talk over virtual platforms I’m sure you’ve realised how forced it can sometimes feel. It lacks the ease of conventional face-to-face conversation, and as a result people tend to brush over it fairly quickly and get into the work which is much easier. But fret no more, we have a life-hack to your conversational dilemma.
Keep a record of your colleagues personal details and things that interest them. If your colleague enjoys a certain sport, bring it up with them. If your colleague’s child has recently started going to school, ask them how their experience has been. Get to know the personal lives of your team, in order to make more contextual small talk. This type of small talk and taking an interest in your colleagues builds a sense of connection and trust. When this happens your brain releases a hormone called oxytocin which is known as the bonding hormone. When this hormone is released in the brains of your colleagues, they are more likely to agree on subjects, they become more creative and innovative, and a result their capacity to build trust and empathize with others increases. This ensures that the quality of work done is much better and you achieve outcomes much faster.
A good leader and team mate takes an interest in their colleague’s lives and is sure to nurture the relationship before rushing into the task. It shows them that you are someone who has taken an interest in them and taken the time to remember the important details in their life. In other words, you’re a friend. Google has done studies that show that people would rather work with someone they like who is incompetent in their job than work with someone who is competent but they don’t like.
Prioritize Live Video Meetings
Having the ability to see someone over a live video chat is the next best thing to seeing someone in person. So if it is an option to video call a member of your team instead of just an email or phone call, then you should absolutely do that. There is nothing that can substitute the ability to see a person’s non-verbal cues as they speak, which actually reveals far more information than their words. It is also far easier for people to form a connection with someone they can see, as opposed to a text or phone call. So instead of avoiding the camera during your regularly scheduled team meeting, make sure you look decent, and show your beautiful smiling face to everyone, as it does go a long way in strengthening a connection.
Create a dedicated space for informal conversation & engagement
This is a particular powerful technique to ensure that your team stays connected to one another in a fun and engaging way. Your teams often spend time strengthening relationships with each other around the ‘water cooler’ or some other common area where they come together, discuss the latest episode of a series, the sports events from the previous weekend and other light hearted conversations. These seemingly unimportant conversations are in fact extremely important for team cohesion and productivity as previously explained. Being isolated to virtual channels, we often miss the ‘human touch’ and therefore you need to find ways to recreate that same camaraderie but over virtual platforms. Create a Whatsapp or Slack group, or any other app where your team can chat informally and share funny content or the latest news. Schedule a quick team meeting weekly to shoot the breeze with everyone and perhaps see how they have been doing.
Ask them to share their remote working experience with the group or something funny that has happened in the last couple of days. One of my favourite ideas is to create team engagement sessions, like a team quiz hour, where your team comes together and competes against other teams to win a small prize over virtual platforms.
Bonus Point: Activities to Build Relationships with your Teams over Virtual Platforms:
- Quiz: You can make use of an app called ‘Kahoot’
- Murder Mystery
- ‘Show & Tell’ : Bring something you love to the screen and tell us why you love it
- Group Meditation
- Group yoga session
- Funny items or Props: Ask everyone to wear their favorite christmas or winter jersey for your monday morning meeting when it’s cold outside
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, an easy guide to helping you reestablish your relationships with your team over virtual platforms. Remember this will not be a quick process. The opportunities to connect will have to be created and revisited as frequently as possible to get the outcomes you’re hoping for.
If you enjoyed this and want to learn how you can improve your organisational culture through virtual platforms then keep a look out for our Conversational Intelligence and Culture Transformation course by clicking HERE.