Feeling isolated is a fairly common emotional response for many leaders today. As the months keep dragging on during this unsettling time, many of us on teams are connecting more often about business and less on a personal level. Our virtual calls tend to focus on deadlines and data, leaving little time for just looping into each other’s lives. Although we may ask the question, “How are you doing today?”, we listen for a quick response and then push on to the work at hand.
What if instead of looking at our remote gatherings as merely work- related meetings, we decided to add a dimension of relationship building? That is exactly what I have been trying to do with a non-profit I am working with. At every one of our meetings, I pose a different question at the beginning that is thought provoking. The answers have provided amazing insights into what each team member is feeling as well as a deeper understanding of what makes each of us tick.
What is the power of getting to know your team members?
1. Builds Deeper Relationships and Community
Leading a virtual team can be very overwhelming when we are staring at boxes of faces on a screen. Even switching between a speaker or gallery view doesn’t help much to feel closer to everyone. One great way to learn more about our teammates is to ask interesting questions and listen carefully for their responses. Some possible questions could be:
- What is your favorite food for dinner?
- Where do you spend time when you want to escape your home office?
- What words might describe your state of mind?
- Which parts of your job bring you the most satisfaction?
2. Divulges Strengths and Blind Spots of Each Member
A great benefit of getting to know team members better is identifying their strengths and areas of expertise. One team I worked with had an individual who was a talented artist. When the rest of the team heard about their gift, they responded with excitement and how that individual could help with promoting a product. Alternatively, learning about teammates can also provide insights into people’s blind spots. This knowledge can ultimately lead to a better understanding of why someone may take longer to complete an aspect of an assignment.
3. Elevates The Flow of Work
When teams spend time getting to understand what areas each person excels at, there is no doubt that there will be more impactful results. Creating flow is an enormous plus for any team and really is quite easy to develop.
- Be clear on the goals and priorities.
- Assign work based on each member’s strengths and interests.
- Identify the roadblocks quickly and correct them.
- Schedule check-ins to make sure the flow is running smoothly.
4. Offers Opportunities For Innovation
Another powerful outcome of getting to know team members is being open to taking more risks and trying new things. When teams have a higher level of trust and are willing to listen to the ideas of others they will step outside of their comfort zones to dream more readily. Think about it. If a team member has insights or ideas that they think could create a better approach to a project they will speak up if they are comfortable with their teammates. In the end that will lead to greater innovation.
5. Grows The Team
Ultimately the best way to build a culture of teamwork where each member feels valued is by getting to know one another. It is through our relationships that we feel more connected to the faces on the computer screens. Prioritizing people over projects is the secret sauce to growing a team. We grow our teams through:
- Listening actively to one another.
- Asking meaningful questions to make sure teammates are really ok.
- Responding to different perspectives with respect.
- Keeping an open heart and mind.