Getting the communication mix right
Video conferencing technology has helped organisations transition to remote working more quickly and effectively than we would ever have thought possible pre-pandemic. But as “Zoom fatigue” kicks in, a daily agenda of back to back group meetings is neither welcome nor sustainable. How do leaders find the right communication mix to keep their team members energised and engaged – and keep everyone connected and informed?
The neuroscience around why we find video conferencing so exhausting is well documented. Communicating on the small screen means we are missing many of the subtle cues we have in a face to face conversation, so our brains must work harder and focus more intently to absorb information. The self-consciousness we feel at being looked at by other people (whilst having our own image mirrored back at us), as well as maintaining constant eye contact, burns up a lot of our brains’ bandwidth, especially for introverts. On a recent episode of Radio 4 series Positive Thinking Eddie Obeng, Director of virtual business school Pentacle described video calls as “looking at 24 predators coming to eat you” – a little extreme perhaps but we get the point.
As we find new norms and ways of working, leaders can afford to “dial down” on the frequency of the group calls and tailor the communication to exactly fit the needs of the team. Here are three suggestions for finding a better balance to your communication:
Learn to love your phone again. It’s time for the humble phone call to make a comeback. For leaders, picking up the phone demonstrates the personal care and attention missing on text or email and is more spontaneous than a Zoom meeting…without the need for the receiver to prep their workspace or appearance!
Prioritise 1:1 time with your team members, by telephone or video. Leadership expert Marcus Buckingham says, “If you want to improve the performance of your team, this is the most important 10 minute conversation that you’re not having” Check in on a personal level first “How are you today?”, then ask two questions, “What are you working on?”, and “How can I help?”. Your team want to know you are there but let them decide if and when they need your input.
Use asynchronous communication to help the team manage their wellbeing. When the crisis first hit, everything was “urgent and important” and decision making was rapid. As recovery begins, businesses need a different type of thinking that encourages creativity and innovation – and that can’t always be done at speed. Asynchronous tools such as email, Google Drive or Slack are inclusive and collaborative but allow team members to respond at a time that suits them and allows time for thinking and reflection.
If you want to get the right communication mix for your team, give us a call to discuss what tools and approaches might help.