Before COVID-19 hit, we, at RecogNation were already evangelizing on the importance of establishing connection and fostering communication among teams. Today, those actions are even more important as we strive to keep our people engaged and assured that they’re safe and they belong.
Though some businesses are running—mostly—as usual, a recent Stanford research study showed that 42% of the U.S. labor force is working from home. A promising vaccine may be on the horizon, but it is unlikely that, for the foreseeable future, that number will shift significantly toward returning to the workplace as we approach the early months of 2021. That means leaders who have off-site staff must continue to maintain a strong virtual presence in their lives and encourage them to stay connected with one another as well.
At RecogNation, technology has been a huge factor in keeping our culture and community intact. The fact that we are able to have Team’s meetings that feel almost face to face has been a game changer, especially for Andrew Bishop, RecogNation’s General Manager. “My relationships with some of our team members have actually grown because of the intentionality and regular touchpoints we have established through this crisis,” Bishop said. “In some cases, I’m having more interactions now with certain individuals than I would have through casual encounters in the building.”
More interactions! That really is huge. But the key word here really is “intentionality.” And, while technology does enable us, it’s the purpose and effort in reaching out that makes the difference.
Here are some tips for communicating effectively during this time of separation that have worked for us and can also work for you:
Be consistent and frequent. We’ve been recommending this approach for how to give recognition for years, but it also applies to how we engage and communicate—not just in today’s climate, but always. Structure is an especially necessary aspect of working in an at-home environment, and setting up regular, scheduled check-ins that your people can count on is a part of that.
Refresh and reinforce. In “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups,” author Daniel Coyle says, “This idea—that belonging needs to be continually refreshed and reinforced—is worth dwelling on for a moment. If our brains processed safety logically, we would not need this steady reminding. But our brains did not emerge from millions of years of natural selection because they process logically. They emerged because they are obsessively on the lookout for danger.” This concept couldn’t be more true than it is today, when our needs have been reset to the most basic. Your check-ins are the vehicle for this message, but it’s the content of your conversations that provides that needed reassurance to keep you team members feeling safe, informed, aligned, and engaged.
Focus on purpose. Having weekly meetings is important, but they’re only really successful if you’re prepared with discussion points and deliberate in what you’re communicating. Talk about your goals, talk about your “whys”, and talk about how your people are linked to those through their actions and contributions.
Remember, you are the beacon for your people and the signals you send out will draw them closer or send them adrift. Every conversation is an opportunity to strengthen your bonds, your interconnectedness, and, ultimately, your culture. Seize it.