Updated: Apr 13
How well are you supported socially and emotionally at work? The quality of collaboration and connectivity are a few key indicators of how well you're fitting into the team while WFA (working from anywhere).
1. I heard you, I just don't agree with your comments!
The most fundamental element of verbal communication is being a good listener. There may be some reasons you don't actively listen, least of which is that you don't know how. More typically we actively listen better with some (boss), are neutral with others, or don't listen at all to the rest. Good listening skills always requires self-awareness when you are receiving verbal incoming messages. Be in the here and now and be aware of your non-verbal gestures when on video calls. Accept that in the virtual operating environment, you have fewer opportunities to interact and should cherish each opportunity to exchange ideas, good, bad or indifferent. A good tactic that demonstrates good listening skills is to ask questions, rephrase comments and refrain from interrupting the messenger.
2. Do you have reliable technology?
Have you been on calls when the image freezes or you lose connectivity interrupting the train of thought? Check your Wi-Fi source as this is key to successful internet connection. Additionally, there are relatively inexpensive options for Wi-Fi booster attachments that can extend the range and enhance the signal your router is receiving. You may also want to invest in great noise cancelling headphones to block those pesky backgrounds noises and allow you to participate from anywhere in the workplace.
3. Where am I on the emotional intelligence scale?
People come in all sizes and shapes with differing motivations and skills. The sum of our interpersonal attributes constitutes emotional intelligence. Social graces, personality traits, language, personal habits, communication, optimism and friendliness define our relationships with others. What is my style? Am I emotional or composed, action oriented or methodical, a problem solver or matter of fact? The trick is meeting people "where they are" to get things done. Know your style and guard against offending others with your natural tendencies. Be open, approachable and adjust to your audience in a polite and diplomatic way. Work to learn and remember three things about those you work with to give you non-work discussion topics and build on common interests.
4. Patience is not my strength!
Are you ready to work on it? Patience takes practice! Not the strongest attribute assigned to successful people (not the strongest?). Practice may require you to do slightly uncomfortable things. Some people may bring out triggers for impatience. Is it their pace, tone, language, accent or people who whine, complain or ramble? Suspend judgment and focus on your mindfulness by sitting quietly, actively listening and resisting the urge to interrupt. If you message to your team a great idea you were inspired by in the morning shower, count to 10 allowing your audience to articulate a response. If you are feeling rushed, consciously slow down. Accept your circumstance in the moment for "what it is" and reduce your stress around attempts to control the response of others.
5. "We did it!"
Building effective teams and team spirit is certainly possible with a remote or distributed workforce and remains a high priority for managers. The words "we did it", whether written or spoken, is the true measure of success when building teams. Reward and recognition activities should be evenly applied to all team members regardless of manager/non-manager status.
6. Do my in-person activities still work with virtual workers?
Some of the proven techniques such as team participation in goal setting and problem solving remain relevant with your virtual workers, with some clever twists. Regular scheduled morning video meetings remain important to allow employees a communication channel to the boss and to perform progress checks on priority tasks and make course corrections. Giving a voice to the team also remains important to promote diversity of thought and promote a feeling of worth to the team when contributions are made.
7. When is a good time to talk?
By the way, have you published your calendar for your team members to view so they can reach out at times convenient for you? If you have not already done so, publish your calendar for your mangers and team members to view. This allows those interested in your time windows of opportunity to connect with you.
8. Remote lunch dates?
Ordering a lunch for employees so all can eat on a video call allows opportunities to build around non-work interests and have casual conversations, you will get to know your team in a deeper way and likely surface little known facts about your team. Have some fun along the way.
9. We are now digital!
Build a brainstorming data base easy to access that allows employees to post ideas and thoughts to a particular problem you are facing. Pay for employees to take online courses to expand their knowledge of digital tools.
10. Am I challenged in my work?
Creating a climate of continuous learning is both driven by the management and non-management teams. Managers can surprise employees with enriching and challenge assignments. Non-managers can volunteer to participate on a project team where you may only have limited knowledge.
11. Do I feel valued?
There are a number of levels that can promote a feeling of being valued within the organization. In the most basic sense, people who feel they are cared about pay it forward to others. Accepting without judgement, active listening, personal sharing or disclosure, and knowing your team’s dreams and aspirations all contribute to a culture where people feel valued. When communicated sincerely, simple courtesies like thank you, asking for help or enhancing a person's self-esteem are powerful techniques to making people feel they are valued and belong.
1. Expert Panel, Forbes Technology Council. Leading A Remote Team? 12 Tips For Building A Cohesive Company Culture. Retrieved 22 February 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/01/10/leading-a-remote-team-12-tips-for-building-a-cohesive-company-culture/?sh=66f430502fe2
2. Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials. 7 Tips for Better Patience: Yes, You’ll Need to Practice!
Work on keeping your cool when facing daily hassles. Retrieved 22 February 2021, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-tips-for-better-patience-yes-youll-need-to-practice/
3. Conway, B. Employee Connect. 10 Tips To Improve Your Interpersonal Skills. Retrieved 22 February 2021, from https://www.employeeconnect.com/blog/tips-to-improve-your-interpersonal-skills/