communication virtual team

Strengthen Communication While Working Virtually

by Sonya Shelton

This is clear: strong communication is necessary to lead a virtual team. There is no way around it. As a leader, it is important that you provide as much clarity as possible while things continue to change. How you communicate may have changed while shifting to the virtual workplace, but the effectiveness of your communication does not have to suffer.  

In this post, we’ve outlined the most impactful aspects of effective communication that you can focus on to strengthen communication while working virtually.

Clarity & Simplicity

First thing first: your communication needs to be clear and simple. There’s enough confusion and chaos happening during these times, so the more that you can clarify and simplify your messages, the better. 

Working from home cuts off the informal communication that naturally occurs in an office, such as grabbing coffee from the breakroom and walking between meetings. This also removes the opportunity for a quick question or a brief update in the hallway. The truth is that leaders are less likely than their team members to notice that lack. This can cause the leader to assume “no news is good news,” meanwhile, the team members can feel isolated or left in the dark. For this reason, it’s important to establish a pattern of communication that allows for sharing information, asking questions and making decisions.

Consistency

Consistent communication keeps leaders informed and also keeps your teammates on board. You want to increase the frequency of your interactions as well to make yourself available to your team to answer questions and to address their concerns on a regular basis. 

Be open to looking at ways to connect with your team on a human level. For example, a chief information officer said he’s texting the entire company with regular quick updates because it’s more of a “human way” of communicating than their previous official corporate channels, and it just felt more friendly to send text messages. You want to be careful that you’re not overwhelming people, but look for ways to encourage open, honest and productive communication.

You also want to be realistic in your outlook. As you’re communicating, don’t sugarcoat, but at the same time don’t catastrophize. Use actual data and trends and talk about what you actually can control and what you really know rather than speculation. 

Agility

Agile communication practices work great in a crisis. Use tactics like quick daily check-ins and then follow up with longer meetings as needed to discuss issues that come up in the check-ins. It’s also saves time and energy to move topics with no discussion like status updates or reports to email. 

Determining how you communicate is just as important as what’s being said, and it needs to be done clearly, effectively and consistently.

Effective Channels 

While working virtually, you can take advantage of new tools and technology. Some of these products and solutions may improve how you connect with your team virtually. For example, we’ve seen how important video conferencing has become and how it can bring a whole new level of connectivity and cooperation to a team. Beyond video conferencing, there is chat, phone calls, voice notes/recordings, and emails – all offering unique solutions.

Just be mindful only to use tools that you actually need, and not just because you see other companies using them. Click here for a full breakdown of each communication channel and how to utilize each method most effectively.

This article comes from our online training “5 Keys to Leading Virtual Teams in the COVID-19 Crisis” Click on the link to view the entire training for FREE as well as access other helpful leadership resources.

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