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If You Want to Raise Performance from Remote Team Members, Stay Close to Them Emotionally

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

It won’t work to create distance with your team both physically and emotionally. We’re almost all officing at home during this sudden Coronavirus crisis, and many of us are struggling with the loss of easy access to the many in-person conversations we were used to having for quick progress check-ins, setting expectations, problem solving and giving feedback. In-person contact almost always includes personal conversations and a sense of camaraderie and caring between you and them.

Feelings of closeness affect the bottom line Some may underestimate how much feelings of closeness affect work outcomes. Emotional isolation from your leader or boss often lowers your willingness to ask questions and get help on work tasks. Accountability may drift off when you lose the frequency of casual contact.

For this reason, a team leader must add in more informal visits with team members and actively promote informal conversations between team members. There are many ways to do this, and I’ll be blogging about a number of them over the next few weeks. Here’s one I had a chance to try last week three different groups. You may use it via conference call or video app such as Zoom.

Include a regular “check-in” activity in your meeting and include a meaningful warm-up question

Even if everyone’s used to meeting with these same people once a week, add in this opening activity for your next meeting:

  1. Go around to each person in the meeting as ask them to share how things are going with day-to-day life this week, including their family members.

  2. Share at least one “pleasant surprise” they’ve discovered in the last week (e.g. getting more exercise, talking to neighbors when passing (six feet away:-), cooking desserts, seeing local waterways clear up on TV, etc.)

You may time people (e.g. two minutes each) if you’re on a tight time frame or allow it to flow spontaneously. If you use a timer and it goes off, allow them to finish their thought before moving to next person. After people have all checked-in, you may allow more time for discussion and story-telling. Or you may need to move into your regular meeting.

Simple personal connection Even if you are a very analytical and impatient person, realize that as a team leader, you are responsible for the emotional tone and morale of the group. Little actions such as this one go a long way toward helping people feel connected and cared for on the job. These feelings, in turn, will make the work goals, accountability, and feedback much more productive.

Your role as this kind of leader is so important. Don’t let them feel remote.

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— Mark Holzbach, Creative and Tech Community Connector, Co-Founder, Zebra Imaging

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