Building aligned teams online
Imagine this: you’re on an online team meeting. It’s like staring into a black void – everyone has their cameras off. You ask a question, just to be met by stony silence. A thought flutters through your mind: they’re not there. They’ve logged on to the meeting, but then left to do something else!
This is the stuff of nightmares! How does one guild teams who work well together, who perform and engage in an online environment? Don’t despair, though – it can be done.
Here are a couple of practical ideas from a group of line managers that I work with.
- Contract for videos on. Create a culture of having videos on during online meetings. If people are visible, they are more engaged. Facial expressions are a critical part of our communication, so don’t discount it. “Videos on” should be a ground rule for your team. However, ensure that there are some guidelines about what’s acceptable. For example, during one of my online lectures at a local university the other day there was a person about to take a shower when they switched on their camera by mistake. No-one wants that, right? Let the team create guidelines around what’s allowed during online meetings that will work for everyone.
- Create connection sessions that has nothing to do with work. One line manager shared that she schedules 3 30-minute sessions (on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday) where co-workers can talk about anything BUT work. It’s a great way to connect socially with others and it really helped the team to engage on a more human level.
- Check-ins at the start of meetings. Give every person the opportunity to check in. Let them answer on how they are doing personally – again, no work stuff! Focus on emotions, how their personal lives are going and what’s important to them. Try not to include a business update during these check-ins, rather focus on the person.
- Use the tools. There are various tools available for online collaboration. Use a white board application to capture ideas. Create a Miro board for people to collaborate. Use breakout rooms for discussions in smaller groups. Most of these are free and easy to use. And if you’re unsure, search for “how to” guides and videos to help you get into the basics.
- Celebrate and recognize. Create opportunities for the team to celebrate successes and recognize achievements. Again, this can be online. Create an online quiz as a team building event or host a cooking competition on Whatsapp.
Finally, a good old phone call between two people is a great way to maintain connection. One line manager told me that he calls every team member for a 15-minute chat every week. Sure, it takes time, but the impact has been great. There’s been stronger relationships and higher engagement in online meetings because of these calls