Manbir Kaur – Helping Leaders, Teams & Organizations

Covid19 is an unfortunate reality that we all are dealing with. It has taken away from us, the ease of working together in a shared workspace. Gone are the casual coffee conversations and simple acts of enjoying each other’s company while working and brainstorming together on solving business problems. Some of my clients are constantly sharing that same work seems more difficult now.

It is a new paradigm and one thing that is crucial for your success during this time, is your ability to adapt your conversations. Remote working can be equally fruitful and enjoyable if you can adapt your conversations, please refer to the pointers below:

More Transparent and Authentic: Leaders and managers need to share more details so that your teammates have more clarity. Copying emails to relevant stakeholders, clearly defining scope and role of each, can help bridge some gaps. Encourage frequent discussions / concalls which allow people to raise concerns and seek clarifications. Some team members may hesitate to seek clarifications so, as a manager you need to take lead and make sure that required stakeholders are on the same page.

Virtual ‘We’ effect: Each of us are alone on our side of the screen, and this may lead to a feeling of isolation. Make sure that every time you interact through email, conference call, – you send the message to the team that ‘We are in this together’. Use ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’ more to create togetherness. One trick is to reflect briefly on this, after one of the team/group meeting each day.

Let go of the past: We all have history with each other and sometimes we may carry a negative impression of someone. It may become very difficult to work, if you continue to doubt and mistrust. This is the time for second chances, let go of the past and start afresh. Give everyone an opportunity to redeem themselves.

Listen: You may have to spend more time listening and understanding. It is better to make the effort upfront and ensure that all are on the same page. Do not assume, do not take positions, instead try to understand and empathise. Make conscious effort that you are listening deeply during every virtual discussion.

Talk positive: People are working from homes and you may not know about their home situations. They may be going through a tough time, worrying about old parents who live alone far away or young kids who do not take enough precautions. It is important to be nice to people and be genuinely interested in their welfare. Do talk about them, or anything positive before you focus on assignments, tasks and milestones. Celebrate each achievement and cheer people up.

Shift from ‘No’ to a Possibility: If you are used to saying clear ‘No’ as an answer, please take time and reconsider. The things that may have been unacceptable in the past may be a requirement in today’s scenario. Consider digging deeper into the need, understand the other person’s perspective. Bringing agility to your conversations is important. You need people to talk to you and share their ideas, you need the conversations to flow and not stop.

Open-ended questions: Make a habit of asking open-ended questions. Asking too many yes/no questions do not allow many options to the other person and limits the discussion to just your own perspective. A genuine curiosity about the situation, person, project will be great.

Do not be Judgemental: Pre-conceived notions and a quick thought such as, ‘how can I expect more than this from Shane.’ or ‘Jackie always creates delays.’ are conversation breakers. Others will sense the judgement in your tone and become defensive. Do not be critical, virtual working may be new for the person on other side of the line too. None of you may even get a chance to clarify so, each may carry a grudge, breaking the team spirit. Be open and understanding.

Have Engaging conversations: Take time to talk 1-1 with your teammates for sure. Use this time to understand their situation and figure out what you can do to help them be more effective.

Your team is your strength and great conversations are a way to keep the team going. I will be happy to connect with you and work with you on any specific challenges that you may be facing. Feel free to look up the appointments and book a slot for a discussion. Keep Winning!

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