5 Ways to Engage Your Virtual Team

As we head into tighter COVID restrictions, we move again to more virtual team interactions, and more meetings and events being held online.

Here are some quick practical ideas you can implement today to keep your team engaged:

Meet regularly (like every day)

I’ve had more than one client say that their team is closer now than it was pre-COVID.  The reason for this is that they’ve been forced to meet regularly online.

I recommend starting the day with a quick check-in meeting.  Depending on your industry, the meeting should take between 10 and 25 minutes.

During your huddle, ask:

  • What’s your top priority today?
  • Any news we should know about from you (or from their team)
  • How about roadblocks we can help with?
  • Wins from yesterday? (celebrate small wins – a successful client interaction, a sale, a great coach and connect, etc)

These regular meetings will bring your team closer together, and help team members know that even though they are physically distanced, they’re not living alone on an island.

Sharpen your virtual team meeting skills

  1. Meetings die because:

  • They involve people who don’t need to be there
  • They have no point
  • People are allowed to talk in generalities
  • They go too long! If a meeting doesn’t have an endpoint we can all count on, we’ll find ways to skip
  1. Fix your tech

  • Everyone has to have their own screen; not sitting in a boardroom with 3 others that you can’t see properly
  • Everyone needs to show up on the screen. Examine lighting. Don’t allow people to sit in creepy half-light or against a bright window so they look a serial killer
  • Don’t allow ‘cute’ backgrounds. No sitting on the beach in Hawaii.  Let’s see real people in real places
  • Sound/wifi needs to work properly
  • Everyone needs a proper screen. Watching an iPhone doesn’t cut it
  • Cameras on all the time – joining a video meeting using audio is like sitting in a board room meeting with a paper bag over your head
  • Meetings start and end precisely on time
  • Allow lots of breaks.  For longer meetings, call a bio break every hour, and then start again precisely on time

Accentuate the positive

Call your meetings COVID-free and politics-free zones.  No discussion of elections or anything COVID-related.   Believe me, people will be relieved to be free of the doom loops we hear all day on the news and will be delighted to engage in talking about other stuff.

Be upbeat.  Talk about wins.  End meetings asking what people are thankful for.  Use your huddles as an opportunity to get people fired up!

Get creative and make it okay to be human during virtual team meetings

One of the great things about remote work is seeing people’s actual lives.  We’ve all glimpsed pets and grandkids and kitchens and met spouses as they wander to the fridge.  This is all fantastic stuff.

Mother Daughter

Here are some creative ways to spark up your meetings and help people bond:

  • Start with a check-in: everyone checks in out of 10 (work and personal life). Encourage elaboration.
  • 2-minute house tours: Start a meeting with one person giving a 2-minute tour of where they live and work.   Interesting.
  • 3-minute photo sharing: Allow people to share 2 or 3 photos that matter to them in their lives.
  • 1-minute bucket list sharing: Same again
  • 2-minute show and tell: Allow one person per meeting to show an item that has meaning to them and explain why

All of these ideas engage people and help to build bonds.  Use these, and customize them for your team.

Virtual teams are the way of the future.  Learn to get great at it, and get a jump on everyone else!

Trevor Throness head shot 2019

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com https://www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068


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