This was a good thing, they shared, as it allowed them to ensure connection in a very disconnected workplace. We agree. Businesses, and business leaders, can never go wrong over-connecting with their teams during challenging, stressful times.
Now, this heightened sense of the need to communicate is slipping away as businesses go back to the office and/or introduce new hybrid models for working. This is leaving some individuals and teams feeling less in touch with the business, and their colleagues, as everyone is figuring out how to work and meet whole life needs within the context of their new normal.
As leaders, there’s a tremendous opportunity to fill this need. Here are four tips to help make sure you are staying connected as you and your colleagues get work done in new ways:
- Initiative is key. If something isn’t working with your new way of working, address it. Maybe a couple of team members don’t seem as available as they once were. Perhaps you feel you aren’t getting enough informal time with your boss. Maybe you realize you need more structure to your days. Don’t hide from friction, address it proactively with grace, empathy, and an eye for a solution.
- Share your preferences. Our personal lives are more integrated with our work lives than ever before. Gone are the days of trying to hide your life. Instead, share your preferences with your colleagues. If you work best early in the morning, do so. If the evening is your time to power through the tough tasks, make others aware. If less travel is working for you, make that known. If you miss being on the road, raise your hand for more field work. Recognize that preferences can’t always be honored, yet contribute to a culture where the people you work with can share and apply what they’ve learned about how they work best.
- Engage spontaneously. Pandemic life brought a planned nature to many routine communications. While schedules are helpful, humans thrive on impromptu connection. Give a colleague a call outside of an Outlook appointment. Send a text. Leave a voicemail. Shoot someone an email of encouragement. Be proactive to stay connected. Connection doesn’t happen without intention.
- Be responsible. That word, “response-able” literally means you are in a position to be responsive to others. Part of being an accountable professional means you can make yourself available to the people you work with in a timely manner. Just because your new way of working provides you with flexibility doesn’t mean you should always flex away. Sometimes reliability, consistency, and dedication are paramount to flexibility. Pay attention to, and work to meet, the communication needs of those you work with.
Here’s to staying connected, engaged, and communicating well as we work to create a better working world.
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