Zoom and the Art of Effective Communication
Zoom Zoom Zoom
By Reem Papageorgiou | June 15, 2020
You didn’t sign up for this. No one did. And now rather than having your weekly meetings and quick chats in the hallway, you are staring at a screen all day as a way to “connect in person” to your team. Connect, a now relative word, can leave you wiped and perhaps think that your Rockstar team isn’t as cohesive as pre-COVID 19. So what’s the solution?
It’s time to overcommunicate. Wait, what? It’s exhausting, yes. But taking the time to increase communication will pave the way for productivity, efficiency and morale, not to mention improve mental health. A recent article put out by Forbes indicated “Heightened communication is necessary, not only to keep your remote team productively focused, but because the sudden move from the workplace to a home space can take an emotional toll on people when they no longer have the social contact with work friends and colleagues.”
Weren’t we talking about exhaustion? Yes. As you know 93% of communication is nonverbal. That’s why, when you are in line for coffee or pass in the hallway, you get a lot more out of a 5-minute conversation about a proposal that’s due, than you feel you are getting on a zoom call. You are forced to work harder and to focus more specifically on the images on your screen to decipher what exactly is being communicated.
So how does overcommunicating with a method that’s exhausting help your team? Let’s dive in. You and your team have been at this a long time now. Zoom is the norm. But take a step back for a do-over/refresh to address some issues that might be slowing down that effective communication piece. Here are some tips:
Get to Know Your People
This actually means “get to know your people during this pandemic.” Ask them how they are feeling, ask them what they are finding to be challenging (work or non-work related). Ask them how it’s going balancing working from home, what’s working and not working, and how you can be supportive.
Let Your People Get to Know You
Keep it real. It may be the time to be a little more flexible about what you choose to share with your team. Life is not normal right now and connection over a shared experience can create stronger and more dedicated relationships. Take the time to let your team know how you are doing and what you find challenging.
Involve your Team
Did your whole team jump onto zoom calls in mid-March trying to carry on business as usual? Perhaps not – but it’s important to take a step back and create your new way of operating. You hired them because they were talented and driven. Ask them for their ideas on how to approach this new way of communicating. Have a team meeting to come up with plan of how you want to approach not only business needs but the social and relationship needs that come out of an in-office work environment as well. You can also share what expectations you have and ideas on how to communicate with them and lead from a distance.
Come up as a team with rituals that help you connect that you can count on. Are they Monday Morning Check Ins, Zoom Trivia Happy Hour, Friday Downloads? We know of one client that created a shared playlist full of songs whose titles had COVID related themes (I Will Survive, Don’t Stand So Close to Me, All by Myself) and another who hired a magician during a Zoom hangout. Have fun and get creative because the more fun your having the more productive you will be.
The internet is loaded with tips and strategies on how to improve communication going forward, but here’s the most important piece: Don’t try to do what you were doing before over a screen. It doesn’t transfer. Take the time to reset and create your new norm. And who knows, some traditions may come out of this that you keep forever. Even when you can meet up again after work.