Despite the geographical separation most of us are suddenly grappling with, leadership is still about people. So in some ways, nothing has changed. The age-old principles still apply and great leadership is always about winning hearts and minds, communicating, and building psychological safety through fostering mutual trust, respect and support.
It’s just how we apply these age-old principles that are suddenly up for grabs. How can you help your team feel like a united front when they can only see each other through little boxes on a screen? How can you make room for those golden moments of banter that used to happen organically during Friday evening drinks?
Strong teams are fostered by a sense of belonging and togetherness. It is up to leaders to think out-side of the box (or screen) to generate new ways to build work-relationships for increased cohesion, productivity and morale.
Here are some novel connection alternatives we see work:
Choose one of your most outgoing team members and ask them (in advance) to give everyone a brief virtual tour of their home after one of the team meetings.
Randomly pair colleagues at the start of the week for a 15-minute chat, where the only rule is that the discussion can’t be work-related. It may seem awkward at first, but when they realise they have the same dog breed, they both love boxing, or whatever, ongoing working relationships are more robust.
Connect with physical exercise
Now that our desks are just a few steps from the bed we rolled out of, we all need to multitask exercise into our day. What better way to encourage your people to exercise than to factor it into meetings? Both ‘Walk and Talk’ and ‘Stand Up’ sessions are a lot easier to organise now that everyone is video conferencing rather than together in the office, so make the most of it. It just takes you remembering to make it happen and modelling it.
Pair colleagues for ongoing mutual support specifically focussed on tackling the challenges they each face with home working.
Friday evening virtual drinks
The most common rules are: video on, drink in hand. Some teams add a competition like ‘Covid-19 meme of the week.’
To personalise how you welcome a new colleague, find out a bit about their interests and send a welcome gift to their home by courier.
Share your passions
Offer a yoga/ meditation/ workout session; invite team members to run a course on something they’re passionate about. This helps keep everyone healthy and will probably generate a few laughs along the way.
And finally, online games
Online games like ‘Fibbage’, ‘Drawful’ or ‘Monsters seeking Monsters’ can have real business benefits, from polishing logic skills and strategic ability to rejuvenating creativity. Explore the options and experiment with what works best for your team’s particular style.
If there ever was a perfect time to experiment with novel approaches, it’s now. So filter all these ideas according to your team’s culture and personalities, and go for it. The picture is far from gloomy – forget disconnection, this time of distribution is an incredible opportunity to strengthen connections in ways we didn’t think possible.