Working from home, connecting with your team, with your colleagues and stakeholders, all of it mostly via your computer screen…it gets a bit lonely and demotivating, doesn’t it?
There’s no easy replacement for those accidental encounters we have while we’re making a cup of tea in the kitchen, or grabbing a coffee or lunch together. These are really uncertain times in more ways than one, and we need those precious human connections to navigate them.
So I wanted to share a few simple – yet powerful – things you can do to help your team connect and stay engaged.
Connect with your team one-on-one. Give them a call, check in. This is also an opportunity for you to be vulnerable, and talk about what’s happening with you, and how you’re feeling through the challenges you’re facing. Not to shift the focus onto you, but to give your team permission to share. It can also make a huge difference to your staff to know they’re not alone in feeling challenged. If you can, do it regularly, every 2-3 weeks, not just once.
Encourage your team to contact you. Create time slots for informal interactions with your team, so they know you’re available to chat. Calling you (even if it’s for a casual chat) is a much more serious thing to do than popping their head around your office door to ask a question. Plus your team may not want to disturb you, or will assume you’re busy. Recognise that it’s more difficult for them to contact you and make it that little bit easier by setting times and communicating them. For example, 8am to 9am is your time for casual check ins and they can reach out without fear they might be bothering you. Some staff may need these informal chats more than others.
Create opportunities for your team to connect informally. This has become super important as we have lost all those opportunities to connect with each other in an office setting. We don’t have the chance to connect person to person, human to human in the same way. Yet without that, it can all start to feel a bit…lonely. We need to connect, and in person is not the only way to do it. I have something to help you with that 👇
In one of the teams I worked with last year, we organised a Friday drinks meeting to connect with each other informally. But of course, connecting in a group on screen is a bit different from striking up conversations with the person sipping tea next to us, particularly as many of the team had never met in person.
So we introduced themes.
There is a lot of same-sameness in our lockdown lives. We feel like there’s not much to share, not much to talk about. Introducing some themes to guide our informal chats is a great way to get to know one another and build connection and trust through stories.
And talking about stories and themes, I’ve got something for you. You can download a Friday night drinks list of themes I’ve used with a few teams I’ve worked with.
The teams I’ve been working with love them. They can help you guide on-screen informal interactions and make them a bit more fun. I hope you enjoy them.