Last March we faced the challenge of pivoting to online delivery of our training courses, workshops and coaching services. Within a very short space of time, we transitioned from face-to-face training to almost 100% virtual learning [VLE]. I can’t say that the transition was seamless but based on feedback from our customers our current VLE training is working extremely well. I believe the reason for this success lies in our ability to be ‘virtually effective’.
Working virtually for most people at the moment is a very ‘different’ experience and many employees are finding this new way of doing things to be quite difficult; but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Albert Einstein once said, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” When we consider the idea of virtual effectiveness we shouldn’t think in terms of ‘doing what we always did’. Communication & Connectivity are key to virtual effectiveness. What does being ‘virtually effective’ mean? Virtual effectiveness requires us to think outside the box, embrace change, demonstrate flexibility, and fine-tune our workplace communications & connectivity with others.
Communication: Getting employees to rethink their communication habits is one guaranteed way to improve team and individual effectiveness when working remotely. In my training I often refer to communication touchpoints – these are opportunities for all of us to maximize the value of our communication with others. I use the word touchpoint as it gives a more significant meaning to a communication channel. I believe we need to ‘up our game’ when it comes to communicating with remote colleagues and teams.
I was listening to a podcast recently and the speaker was discussing the challenges of remote student learning. During the discussion the speaker mentioned an out of office reply that read….’due to COVID-19 there will be a delay in responding to your email’. If people are already feeling isolated they will feel even more so on receiving this type of correspondence; I believe we should be more responsive not less so. We need to pay attention to how we manage our communication and how we verbalise our key messages, this vital to enhancing our virtual effectiveness footprint. What if that out of office reply had a cheerful message? Or it reassured the sender that their query would be responded to as a matter of priority? It is very important to think about your touchpoints and how you handle your remote communications – there is always room for improvement.
Connectivity is another area that we should focus our attention on when it comes to virtual effectiveness. Neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Lieberman argues that “people’s need to connect with others is even more basic than food and shelter and is the primary motivation of one’s behaviour”. So how does this work? Neuroscience research explains that humans are hardwired to connect with others; mirror neurons in our brains are stimulated when we interact with other people. The reaction is instant; during a conversation pathways in our brain light up to mirror the emotions and behaviors that the other person is expressing.
Promoting individual and team connectivity must be a priority when it comes to remote working. Think about your vulnerable areas, for instance ‘new hires’ who are getting remotely acquainted with a new job, new colleagues, etc. consider how you can develop and maintain connectivity in a meaningful way. Virtual effectiveness relies on our ability to reflect, critically analyse, and identify areas for improvement. Here are some suggestions for increasing connectivity whether you are a team leader or a team member:
- Show up and ‘be fully present’ for your team & your colleagues – where possible turn on your video during video conferences.
- Demonstrate a good sense of self – virtual effectiveness relies on strong self-awareness.
- Be consistent and show that you are dependable – be on time, be responsive and if you have to cancel an appointment do so with respect. Trust has a huge impact on meaningful connectivity.
- Avoid negativity or expressing overly negative messages – think about what you want to say and plan how you will say it.
- Share small moments with others – you don’t need to share your life story but telling people how you feel, or sharing a challenge that you are experiencing will enhance your work relationships.
- Focus on the positives and when giving feedback opt for a strengths-based approach.
- Show empathy for struggles that people may be facing listen, encourage & support your colleagues or team members.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff!
- Check-in with people – a simple ‘are you OK?’ can go along way in connecting with remote colleagues & teams.
- Virtual Open Door – allow a time slot in your schedule for colleagues to be able to ‘drop-in’ virtually. This is something I’ve built into my schedule and it’s helping with my connectivity. I set up a zoom meeting and allow open access to anyone who wants to drop in for an informal chat.
We offer a wide range of courses on the subject of ‘virtual effectiveness’, these include:
- Coaching Remote Teams
- Virtual Effectiveness
- Virtual Team Leadership
- Presenter Masterclass (virtual meetings, pitches, presentations)
- Remote Workplace Communications
- Enabling Remote Teams
- Conversational Intelligence
- Conflict Management
- Communicating in a VUCA world
- Re-energising Virtual Teams
Download our Brochure: https://www.newlinkstraining.com/new-course-brochure/
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30th November 2020