We’re living in weird times. Across the world close knit teams who might previously have spent lots of time together are working virtually. They are being required to rapidly adjust to a completely different way of working.  

If you are a team leader or coach, how do you keep the team culture strong? How do you support team members when they may be feeling worried, distracted, or even lonely? 

We’re social animals and what seems to be missing for many virtual teams is time to ‘check in’ on a social and personal level. To spend time focusing on the ‘Me’ and the ‘Us’ of team culture, rather than a relentless focus on the ‘It’.

In many virtual team conference calls, the social glue that holds people together has been whittled down to the point where ‘getting on with it’ is all that is talked about. 

In the short term the existing team culture can often hold together and this approach can even boost productivity.  However, without attention on people’s feelings, the culture starts to erode and productivity can dive.  

So what can you do?

Teams need to take time to build in new social behaviours which are both engaging and useful, even if they feel awkward at first.

For example, taking the time to do a virtual ‘check in’ where everyone talks about how they are, how they’re feeling, what’s news and what they’re grappling with.

A ‘check-in’ addresses the need for everyone to have a voice and feel included on a human level. It ensures psychological safety.

(Setting a few rules about the length of the check-in, say limited to a couple of minutes each, can ensure that the process doesn’t over-extend beyond everyone’s interest levels.) 

The ‘Us’ needs addressing too. How are ‘We’ doing as a team? What’s working, what needs addressing? How can we work and communicate even more effectively?

This is where using an online survey tool like We-Q comes into its own. Either before or during the meeting each person completes a brief numerical anonymous survey which highlights, through maps and data, which aspects of team effectiveness are high/ low, mis/aligned. When time is short, surveys such as this serve as rapid awareness builders, focus the discussion and bond the team. 

Issues that the agenda would otherwise not surface can be tackled and once a useful and affirming conversation is completed, the rest of the agenda can speed though much more effectively.  

Give it a try at www.we-q.com

Keep safe out there.