Remote operations and workforces face numerous challenges but for many this is not new. For those of us who have conducted our work remotely, there have been fantastic learnings to share with the wider community who are newly navigating this change especially in remote meetings.
In part 1 of a 2 part blog article, we discuss the nuanced, compassionate, interpersonal requirements of leading a team through the uncertainty we are all experiencing. Part 2 will discuss the practical considerations for hosting virtual team meetings including selecting a platform, efficiency strategies and a number of other tools that can also apply to your every day in-person meetings. Clicking here will bring you to Part 2. For now, how can you demonstrate inspiring empathetic leadership at a remote meeting?
As the host of any meeting, you will cue the behaviour of others. What type of behaviours are tolerated but also, what type of message are you emanating. Will your colleagues know that you are confident in your position or what type of energy are you transmitting? By being positive, you will encourage others to do likewise and remain focussed rather than distracted by their own uncertainties. Both verbal and non-verbal communications are drawn on by your audience to understand what you are saying and what you potentially mean so while there is uncertainty for everyone, as a leader, you can help reasshre by being mindful of these factors and transmitting positivity and confidence.
Addressing the mindsets of your team, acknowledging the situation, sharing compartmentalisation strategies and managing fear all contribute to relieving tension during times of concern. At the very start of your remote meeting, do a check-in. Everyone is in various states of discomfort or panic with the current pandemic afoot. Go around the virtual table and ask people to give an update on how they are doing. Perhaps lead the way and share your own emotional state and concerns and acknowledge that people are scared and stressed right now. Allow each person to be heard! In turn, ask them for one thing that they are currently enjoying or a source of happiness. It makes a world of difference to know that your company cares.
Psychological safety in this context refers to the sense of belonging and how comfortable each person feels in contributing at meetings which Google refers to as the most important variable in team performance. Many of us have been in a meeting where the leadership may be angered and puts everyone on egg shells. This is an example of the destruction of psychological safety. By creating a safe space for alternative ideas, encouraging questions and different viewpoints, you will notice your attendees go from merely feeling included to actively contributing and challenging. By all means ask your introverted people if they agree with what is being said or would they do things differently to set the tone. What can help?
We currently are not in total control over our living situation or workspace when remote work is new to us. With family and housemates now at home, distractions and inconveniences will occur. As the host and moderator of the meeting, it is important for you to show understanding. When a personal call, a child, animal or other person interrupts the meeting, make that teammate feel at ease about it. Demonstrating patience exemplifies your attitude and the sincerity of your care. This matters to your employees as many may be new to working from home and uneasy with the setup. We have previously discussed some positive tips to adopt if you are new to remote work which can be found here.
Each business is experiencing significant shifts one way or another. As witnesses to the news and uncertainty, employees will feel unease not knowing what their futures hold. Be real and honest with people. Scenario plan and let your employees know what is happening and what will happen in the event of different outcomes such as a lockdown, upturns and redirecting the company. By allowing people to know where your business is at this time, people will be assured that they will know what to expect as things develop and will help to mitigate this as a distraction from their meeting presence.
As mentioned in previous blogs here, there is a great deal of connection and face to face time lost in the midst of this pandemic. Having a source of connection is a valuable piece of each person’s day. From a productivity and also a wellness perspective, this should be encouraged from a number of different angles to ensure people are feeling well and manage to remain productive.
While there are innumerable ideas and suggestions for demonstrating compassionate leadership, employees are simply looking for a leader who cares and can help them navigate through stressful uncertainty. Following these tips, will help you ease the fears of your team and creating a more trusting, productive environment.
For our practicality suggestions for virtual meetings, please check out Remote Meetings: How to be a leader? Part 2 here. If you have suggestions or areas that your team are struggling, please leave a comment on our social media channels. You can also feel free to message on us on whatever platform works for you.