Video conferencing has become the new normal for team meetings. While virtual meetings offer many advantages – no commute, no need to dress up, a way to safely “see” team members – they do come with certain drawbacks. In fact, many people are finding themselves in more virtual meetings now than they were in in-person meetings in the past. “Zoom-fatigue” is a growing phenomenon. And as a result, many participants have relaxed their meeting behaviors.
So, as a leader, how do you keep your team engaged and make these virtual meetings more successful?
Here are some tips.
Set the example. Be fully engaged as you lead the meeting and when others are speaking. Remember that your facial expressions are always visible to all participants. Be courteous and mindful of words and expressions that may be misinterpreted. In a virtual setting, you don’t have the opportunity to clarify your intent in the hallway after the meeting.
Keep meetings to a reasonable length. Try to keep meetings to 45 minutes or less. If a longer session is needed, break it up. Add a short stretch break or move participants into breakout rooms so they can engage in smaller groups. Start and end on time. Have an agenda. Strive to engage participants by asking for feedback, questions, ideas.
Allow time for personal connections. Start with a “check in” or brief icebreaker. Many are feeling a sense of isolation during this challenging time. Watch for signs that a team member might be struggling and make a point of reaching out to them individually after the meeting. Also, encourage team members to connect individually outside of the full team meetings.
Be present and be positive. Remember to praise in public and criticize in private.
Vary the medium. Consider having every other meeting via teleconference instead of video conference. Or have a safe, socially-distanced group meeting outside.
Communication is key. Working remotely, team members may not feel as plugged in to what’s happening in the organization, with their other team members, or on a team project. As a result, they may disengage. Be as transparent as possible and give them the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their concerns or fears.
Promote balance. Studies indicate that productivity has increased with employees working at home. The downside of this is that it could lead to burnout. Give your team members periodic reminders that they should create a boundary between work and home life for their mental and physical health. Share how you do it to set the example.
Need support in leading during these challenging times? Contact me at email@example.com to learn about our Executive Coaching services.