Leaders can minimize the frustration of online meetings by guiding the flow, learning more about how participants show engagement and checking in outside of meetings to get feedback, writes Alaina Love. “Navigating a digital communications void demands that leaders more frequently acknowledge and thank employees for their efforts to prevent them from feeling undervalued,” she writes.
My client had uttered those words four times in the hourlong strategy call with his team. This group of high-powered executives was working remotely for a company that allowed employees to choose between a hybrid or work-from-home arrangement.
Because their business was global, some team members had been on calls since 4 a.m. and were now shoving down breakfast and slurping coffee as they poured over financial projections for the impending quarter’s close.
As I watched the team interact, I felt the most sympathy for the finance leader who was trying desperately to get the rest of the team to follow along as she reviewed a complicated slide of projections that she’d spent a week preparing. Everyone on the team seemed to have an opinion and were talking over one another throughout her presentation.
I concluded that they weren’t intentionally rude, they just couldn’t tell when the person speaking before them was truly finished talking. Life on Zoom offered the ability to see each other’s face, but the clarity of someone’s body language wasn’t as apparent as it had been when the team met in person.
And it’s no wonder. A significant component of face-to-face communication depends on nonverbal cues, which just weren’t translating across the screen during the call. As it turns out, the finance leader later voiced frustration about the team’s behavior and felt her colleagues had discounted her work.