Article by Jim Jensen
It’s no secret that in-person training and development has taken a hiatus. In response to extraordinary circumstances, team development consultants have made creative and valiant efforts at working virtually with their already established clients, with varying degrees of success.
Leaders have depended on Zoom meetings throughout the pandemic, and will continue to depend on them. There’s no doubt that Zoom, and other virtual platforms, are useful and vital meeting tools. Regarding virtual team development, however, my take is that if you already have a healthy, cohesive leadership team, virtual check-ins and ongoing development over Zoom can be effective and productive.
However, if as a leader you are trying to turn a non-cohesive team into a cohesive one, Zoom falls short. Way short.
It's no wonder. I’m sure you’ve read the long lists of reasons why people struggle with Zoom meetings, or at least you have your own list in your head. Many of those reasons apply in magnified ways to meetings focused on team development.
Imagine a less-than-cohesive leadership team that, pre-pandemic, was not able to engage in the healthy conflict necessary for effective meetings, even when they met in person. People would talk over each other, some would/could not listen, some would dominate discussions while others refused to engage. Now imagine that same leadership team having developmental discussions over Zoom, trying to learn how to give each other constructive feedback, trying to build a safe space for challenging conversations.
For effective leadership team development, assuming you’ve not yet reached the point of trust and cohesiveness, you simply have to get your people in the same room.
You need to eliminate all the message interference that is inevitable with Zoom. You need to get your people in a space where they can witness all those non-verbal cues, a space where they can learn the value, and even the joy, of trust and healthy conflict.
Once trust and cohesiveness are established, then virtual development certainly has its place. That’s good. Because virtual meetings are here to stay.
Training and team development have been put on the back burner. It’s not that they lost their importance; they’ve just taken a hiatus during this past year and a half. While we are not completely out of the woods, companies are putting practices in place to focus on employee safety, mitigating the impact of in-person meetings, and lessening employees fears and concerns. Leaders are once again considering investment in the development of their teams, in creating healthy leadership cultures. Face-to-face leadership and team development training is making a comeback. And that’s good for business!
I hope you found this helpful.
Primarily serving Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan, we’ve worked with companies worldwide as leadership team building, and corporate team development facilitators.
Jim Jensen, MA LPC is the Principal and Founder of Dynamic Teams LLC, specializing in helping leaders of companies build healthy culture through dynamic leadership teams.