Something incredible happened while we were in quarantine. It wasn’t just that we forced a decade’s worth of digital transformation into mere weeks. No, we forgot how to communicate.
Come to think of it; I am starting to wonder whether we ever knew how to communicate. Instead, maybe it’s that the COVID-19 pandemic brought a longstanding problem facing far too many businesses to the forefront.
The ironic part is, in the middle of a pandemic is precisely the time organizations need to clearly and decisively communicate to make sure their teams are properly aligned.
As the workforce transitions into the next phase of remote working, organizations must remedy the communication shortcoming. Otherwise, they risk their ability to prosper in the new business paradigm that is beginning to emerge.
Recognize that everyone communicates differently
Long before COVID, I think too many leaders were prone to believe that they could communicate with everyone on their team in the same manner. Because everyone consumes information differently, their approach to office communication is varied.
Part of the problem is people assume their colleagues approach a situation with the same point of view. But everyone has different experiences, and that affects communication.
Perhaps when everyone was sitting in the same office, it managed to suffice, and we could find common ground — even if by accident. However, without organic opportunities to interact, virtual teams need to create them.
The issue is clear, especially considering that we’ve thrown a potentially once-in-a-generation event into the mix, and some colleagues may not be communicating as effectively as they could — or should.
One solution is to communicate more
Given working arrangements these days, managers should lean toward communicating more with their teams to make sure they have what they need. While we are likely to remain working remotely for the foreseeable future, many people may struggle to adapt to the shift.
I recognize overcommunicating can be a problem that hinders too many organizations. It can turn otherwise strong managers into micromanagers who seem more interested in hovering over their teams rather than empowering them to deliver a quality product.
To mitigate the risk of micromanagement, consider softer touchpoints. A check-in mustn’t be a formal affair; it can be as simple as a quick note or text — enough to let your team know you are there for them.
Creating additional opportunities to connect will also help identify any friction points teams may be facing — whether it’s a personal commitment that is interfering with professional obligations or just a struggle to work from somewhere other than the office.
Help the team set up a functional home office
One of the most prominent mistakes organizations can make today is trying to replicate the office experience at home. Working from home is different than working from an office and must be approached accordingly.
Therefore the communications tools must match how teams will work together. Considering that few use one, does everyone on the team need a duplicate of their office desk phone? Or would they be better served with a unified communications solution that houses all of their tools in a single app?
Additionally, consider whether the solutions in place will help teams work through any situations that might otherwise knock people offline — such as wireless hotspots that allow teams to work through bad weather that can knock out wi-fi service.
The right tools will remove some of the difficulties surrounding the transition from working in an office to working remotely.
It’s all about trust
One thing that hasn’t changed in the pandemic is the need for leaders to build trust with their teams. It was true before COVID, and it will be the case well after the pandemic.
Surviving and emerging from the pandemic on better footing requires teams to work together as a cohesive unit. One of the best ways to make that happen is to have team members’ best interests at heart.
The best way to make that a reality is to make sure your team has an appropriate work-life balance, a more critical need than ever.
Despite the trials and tribulations of the past year, companies face incredible opportunities in the months and years ahead. Ensuring success is doable, but it requires a solid organizational foundation, and that begins with how teams effectively communicate.
Is your approach to communication suitable for the new business paradigm?
Mark Roberts serves as TPx’s CMO responsible for all marketing operations worldwide, driving growth opportunities and building brand recognition for the company within the communications market. A proven marketing leader, Mark has over 25 years of experience in the technology industry building brands, driving demand and transforming high-tech companies. Most recently, Mark served as CMO of PGi as well as ShoreTel, transforming the marketing function from a focus on products to becoming one of the leading companies in the UCaaS space. He has also held other senior marketing leadership positions with world-class, multinational, private and public companies, including Mitel, NexTraq, Polycom, 3Com and Intel. Mark earned his Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Leicester.