Meetings used to suck.
They sucked up our time, our energy, and our resources. We spent most of our days in meetings, going from one to another. We had no “good meeting protocols” in place, and we didn’t hold ourselves or others accountable. They were inefficient, ineffective, and soul-crushing.
Five weeks later, how have your workdays evolved? People are in online meetings all day and into the evening. And for most, those same ineffective meeting behaviors have been migrated to your new remote work processes.
How did you connect and communicate before? Was every interaction live and face-to-face? Did you call, use teleconference, text, or email?
A hammer can be an integral part of building a home, or it can be used as a weapon. Consider how many technical tools you’re layering on to the massive upheaval and cognitive overload in your employee’s life. Consider how Slack, Jabber, Zoom, Teams, and your own internal platforms are adding to the stress and overwhelm of your team.
Tools used appropriately can be very effective; tools used for the wrong application are ineffective and become barriers to success. Amid this current crisis, adding a new tool to an already overloaded to-do list could be the nudge to send our team members over the edge.
We encourage our clients to do a tech triage. Teams should identify and articulate the various tools at their disposal to connect, communicate, and collaborate effectively, both inside and outside the organization. This process helps identify what tools are available, but more importantly, when, where, and how to use them. Just because you have a tool doesn’t mean you need to use it all the time. Pare down and simplify your kit to serve you better.
- What is the objective of this interaction? What tool would best serve that objective?
- Telephone? Text? Video conference? Other?
Get specific about what a great meeting looks like, both virtual and live. Then create firm boundaries on the use of virtual meetings that allow buffer in your team’s day. Human beings weren’t built to stare at a screen all day. Limit the number of virtual meetings to allow the necessary focus and bandwidth for other work duties.
At Purple Voodoo, we consistently focus on taking care of the human first: the functional, biological aspects of the human “machine.” That is who shows up at work, whenever and wherever they work.
You invest (a lot!) in a high-performance sports car and expect it to perform to its potential. But over time, you forget to do regular maintenance, drive in poor conditions, allow rust to deteriorate the body, and drive it so hard you wear out the gear shaft. If you took it back to the dealership to complain, they’d say you can’t expect it to perform to its potential when you haven’t taken care of it!
The same applies to human beings. You can’t expect the members of your team to perform to their potential right now if you do not invest in their maintenance and well-being.
Rest, nutrition, balance, exercise, socializing, and boundaries. These are not “nice-to-haves”; these are “need-to-haves”. There will be no sustaining productivity without taking care of our people first.
A few tips to consider:
- Check-in with yourself- How are you communicating? Is it the best choice for what you need?
- Check-in with your team(s)- Have you created a safe space for connection, and discussions about self-care, work worries, and the fears that come with this disruption?
- Check-in with your customers- How would they like to receive communication, and how often? a healthy relationship means seeking out their needs and acting accordingly
- Do you have a solid meeting protocol in place? Is it being practiced?
- What needs to stop/start/continue given the current remote work reality?What open, vulnerable, and human-focused conversations need to take place, and with whom?
- How can you reprioritize projects right now when resources – time, energy, endurance – are at a premium?
- What support do you need to take care of yourself and your team(s)?
Meetings have always been a critical way to connect, create, and communicate. They still are. Amid this crisis, video conferencing has become one of the primary ways we are connecting as humans these days to mitigate the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety. However, we need to recognize when we may be over-using a good thing.
Just because you have a hammer doesn’t mean everything you see is a nail…