First impressions matter
That means that you don’t want to wear the Death Metal t-shirt and you might want to comb your hair. Just because we are all working from home, it doesn’t reduce the need to be professional. My rule of thumb is a collared shirt. Casual if it is networking and with people I know. A dress shirt if I am presenting or having a business meeting.
Your background also matters. I have noticed a lot of virtual backgrounds recently. I have a friend, who on video chats, will switch his background several times during a call. It is like he is traveling the world. It is fun but does it help your cause? Harvard Business Review has research that shows job seekers with a more authentic background is more effective in landing a job.
I have seen pictures displayed well,: some colleagues showcase their books or degrees, others have a curated background reflecting their personal brand. In a world starved for authenticity, I think this is better approach.
Set expectations in the team for the communications
Start and stop on time. People are easily distracted at their desk. There is email, instant messaging, LinkedIn, and yes, Facebook too. Start and stop on time and keep to your agenda. That means as the leader you want to lead the agenda. When people go off topic, and they will, you can bring them back. A phrase like, “That’s not on the agenda, let’s put it in the parking lot and if we have time at the end we’ll address it or we can schedule it”.
If the communication is not scheduled, what is the communication protocol? For some organizations it is email. Many also set expectations on when a response can be expected. Some organizations have also created an escalation ladder.
- Email – routine
- Telephone – requires a more nuanced conversation
- Text – Urgent
Connect with your team as people in addition to their positions
Start your remote meetings off with a thoughtful question that gets people to know each other as people instead of just their positions. Instead of the analyst, sales professional and data entry, let people know each other as Bob, Mary and Louise.
Some examples might be:
- What are you working on right now that excites you and why?
- What did you do over the weekend that was exciting?
- What new skill have you learned?
- What new skill do you want to learn?
Make sure you check in with your team more frequently
Your team may be working alone for the first time. They may not be used to it, nor may they have the discipline. Make it a point to create time in your schedule to check in.
- How are you doing?
- Where are you stuck?
- What do you need?
These check ins give you a chance to connect, keep them engaged, and to learn things you might not learn as you are checking the boxes on your virtual meetings.
I can hear many of you now saying, “But, I don’t have time”! BS… (Belief system). As a leader, your work gets done through other people. You want to make sure your team is doing well so they can do well with you.
This is not complex. And, it is not easy. Time does present you with constraints. If you want to get stuff done, put it in your calendar and then work your calendar.
When you take these simple steps, your teams will be more connected, better engaged, and more productive. If you want to know how to leverage the Three Conversations for Managerial and Leadership Success, you can get the White Paper here.