Communicating well and efficiently with the team and colleagues has always been a Herculean task. Now, when one part of the team is present in person while the other part of the colleagues is working from the home office, good and efficient communication seems impossible at first glance.
One communication channel that was already popular before Corona is e-mail. The advantage is obvious: e-mail is fast, independent of the immediate availability of the communication partner, and it documents the content of the communication. The big disadvantage of this kind of communication is that you get “cluttered”, because umpteen e-mails with mutual replies are exchanged and you like to be put in “Cc”. It’s easy to lose track of everything! It becomes particularly tricky when e-mails with critical or misleading content are sent. The danger that such an e-mail will cause lasting damage to the relationship is particularly high here.
If e-mails had existed before the telephone, many would say, “Wow, with the invention of the telephone, I can even talk to the other person!” If it becomes critical, pick up the phone to discuss the matter with the employee in person.
What is critical? More than meets the eye.
– Criticism of the results or the behavior of the counterpart
– personal assessments of situations on your part
– assumptions about incidents
– when there are conflicting interests
he closest you can get to a face-to-face meeting is a video conference. The choice of software needed for this is huge here, such as MS Teams, Zoom, Go-to-Meeting, Blizz.
No matter which software you use. Before using it, you and your employees should clarify the following questions:
– How do I place the camera sensibly so that I am not unflatteringly in the picture?
– What background do the people I’m talking to see? How can the background be designed using the software?
– How do I send invitations/appointments so that my conversation partner can join the video conference with one/two clicks?
– What settings can I make so that the video conference has the appropriate volume?
– How do I share documents?
– How can I – if allowed and desired – record the video conference?
It is therefore necessary to familiarize everyone involved with the basics in advance to ensure acceptance of the technology. Once the basics have been laid, the video conference can begin. If more than two participants take part in the conference, it makes sense to appoint a moderator. This person controls the flow of the meeting, such as the order of the participants’ contributions, the procedure for presenting results (questions in between or collected at the end), etc.
And very important: let them talk. Talking out of turn is already disruptive in face-to-face meetings, but in video conferences it is a real “no-go”!
Even if virtual contact is lived with high frequency and pronounced professionalism: Personal contact is irreplaceable for a “we” and “team” feeling. Therefore, plan regular team events as a balance to the little personal contact. Joint small activities such as “after-work nightcaps,” breakfast, lunch, or even seasonal sports mini-events such as bowling, walks, bike tours, etc. are just some of the options.
Whether your team meeting is video or face-to-face. Following a few rules will add value to your meetings. These are:
1. hold meetings when they are necessary (and not because it’s on the schedule).
2. Make only those who are affected also participants.
3. Time discipline: meetings always start and end on time.
4. content discipline: every meeting has an agenda, and participants know it in advance.
5. process discipline: the facilitator is responsible for the process, but each individual shares responsibility for the outcome and for the atmosphere.
6. disruptions have priority, but side issues are postponed.
7. results discipline: after a meeting, there are minutes that everyone can access.
8. implementation discipline: a to-do list records: who does what by when?