These days, working in isolation and communicating through computer screens is an obvious necessity. Still, without in-person connection, emotional intelligence is more important than ever — especially at small businesses, where teamwork can be a critical differentiator.

As managers, we know we can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to leading and managing a team, and that’s never been more apparent than now. Emotional intelligence appreciates that every team member is different and brings their own needs, motivations, and biases to the dynamic.

What I’ve found — and what the rest of the business world is quickly realizing — is that seeking emotional intelligence is the smartest way to keep co-workers focused and motivated, especially in the shelter-in-place world. I start every one-on-one or team meeting with a personal check-in. It’s important for me to understand my colleagues’ current mental states so that I can throw the agenda out the window if someone is struggling.

Just because we’re more than six months into a pandemic doesn’t mean “we’ve got this.” Stamina is starting to wane, and checking in is more important than ever. It’s the quickest and most powerful example of emotional intelligence. Here’s how you can ensure you’re tapping into yours: