As promised, here is the first of my 3 Conversations You Need to Have With Your Team–virtual or otherwise.
To prepare for Conversation 1, write down the names of the people on your team. Now, list everything you know about each person—beyond the team function he or she serves. Do you know anything about their family? How about previous companies they’ve worked for? Can you list any successes they may have had or failures they’ve endured? Do you know anything at all about their personal and professional hopes, needs, dreams and aspirations for the future? Assess how much you know or don’t know about each as a human being. The less you know, the more tenuous your trust and connection is with that person.
Each day for the next week, connect with as many people on your team as possible through a medium other than email; video conferencing is the best alternative to an in-person meeting, but you could use the phone too. And instead of getting right down to business, spend some time checking in on a personal level with the goal of learning as much as you can about who this person is and what makes him or her tick.
As uncomfortable as this might be at first, ask each person to share with you his or her number one business/career/work challenge. Now dig a little deeper, and try to uncover a personal goal or dream. And if the opportunity presents itself, learn at least one important story or event from his or her life.
With some, you may have to coax a bit — but you’ll be surprised how many will open up right away. And once they do…
Ask if there’s some way you can be of service — is there something you can do to help with their challenge or get them closer to their personal goal? Even if that person declines your offer, he or she will appreciate your asking.
At the end of the week, you’ll not only have a much deeper knowledge of each individual on your team, you’ll have shown each individual that you care and become a better leader. Then you’ll be ready for The 2nd Conversation.
Stay tuned for that, but first, give this one a try and let me know how it goes.