Article by Jim Jensen
With the dramatic increase in virtual meetings leaders need to pay even closer attention to their team’s interpersonal dynamics. By that I mean intentionally listening AND looking more closely to what people are saying, not saying, or trying to say. And to what they might be feeling. I’ve been helping people learn the value of these kinds of behaviors for many years. The importance is still the same, but it may not be as easy now.
Here are some things you might hear from a facilitative leader who is paying close attention to psychological safety and to their team’s dynamics. They’re the same kinds of things you might hear from a leader in face-to-face meetings, but it’s more challenging to create psychological safety when some or all or your team members are in the meeting virtually. The intent of these statements or questions is to encourage people to engage, take risks, and to be present.
Of the many unintended side benefits of living through this continuing pandemic, one might be an increased empathy for people who have been working virtually on your teams for years. These teammates understand the challenges built into taking risks and challenging ideas constructively, while listening to their peers with audio only, or seeing them in small squares on a screen. This past two years or so most of you have had opportunities to learn more about what it takes to maintain a healthy team culture when cues about dynamics are far less apparent.
I’ll leave you team leaders with one more thing to consider. If this post resonated with you, remember that your team members most likely did not read it. Consider starting your meetings by laying out a brief vision. What outcomes are you hoping for? Are the meeting objectives clear to everyone? What teaming behaviors are you hoping for, or expecting of them? What should they expect of you? You might even share this post with them as food for thought. While I’ve always been an advocate of stating your hopes, expectations, and intentions out loud before you start important meetings, it may be more important now than ever.
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 development, and corporate team building 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.