How to prevent ‘zoom’ zone out at your team meetings.

How to prevent ‘zoom’ zone out at your team meetings.

“Some things we can only learn in a storm”

Whether you are a part of a new team or a member of a team that has been together since before lockdown, our online meeting existence is sometimes in need of a bit of an interactive boost!

If you are finding you are running out of ideas to get the best out of your introverts and extroverts in your teams right now, this guide from some of our online “team offsites” is to encourage interaction and emotional safety to get the best from everyone.

Getting time to reflect is a challenge when your diary is full of conference calls. We are all finding the screen tiring. Time to reflect is being eroded away by screen and desk time.

Here are some tips to boost effectiveness in your virtual team meetings:

1. Find different ways to ask how your team members are. For example, asking “How are you?” will typically get an “I’m fine” response when in front of colleagues that they do not want to be vulnerable in front of.
Perhaps consider asking “How has this week’s lockdown been for you?” Or “Share your experience of home working this week?” If time is an issue: ask people to describe their week in 3 adjectives.
Try to get into the emotional agenda as well as the rational agenda. i.e. “How can I help you this week?” “What are you up against this week?” “What are your concerns?” Let team members know in advance that you want them to come to the meeting with their thoughts and feelings.

2. Encourage people to write down their thoughts and feelings and discuss them with you. Keeping things in our head can make change feel overwhelming.

3. Go for a scheduled “walk” with the team. Plan to “walk and talk” rather than all sit down on the call.

4. Share an experience. Ask team members to come to the zoom with one thing they learned about themselves/the team in the last 6 weeks.

5. Provide balance if the agenda becomes too critical. E.g. Ask each person to bring some positive reinforcement to the session or “thank you to “x” for “y” this week. Saying what you appreciate in people can boost their contribution.

6. Remind teams what is staying the same as well as what is changing…..stability can be as important as reinvention at this time.

7. Reinforce the team mission at each meeting – this can be something that takes us forward through the fears that people may have.

8. Establish quick team ground rules. Reinforce them at the beginning of each team then at the end of the meeting and critique how you did at the end of the meeting. These create safety to speak up and help people support any withdrawl or lack of participation.

9. Start each team meeting on time and end on time. This is a great way to establish trust!

10. Kick-off the team meeting with an icebreaker – it could be the attitude of gratitude, a shout out. Allow the team to get to disclose something non-task related. Perhaps share a favourite photo. Disclosure builds trust.

11. During virtual meetings, make sure you remember those who are not in the main room – either post a picture of them by the conference line/phone or, literally give them a chair at the table. Inclusion is important.

12. Poll the team about a decision. Make sure you hear from every single person before you action.

13. Have an agenda that is sent out at least 24 hours in advance of a team meeting. This allows everyone to bring their ideas and to think them through first.

14. Remember, less can be more. Encourage people to be succinct with what they say. Time is an important commodity at the moment.

15. When you notice active listening – appreciate it and recognise it. Demonstrate it!

16. Encourage curiosity – no one is an expert in these uncertain times ….all questions are good questions.

17. Confirm your team’s action plan (who is going to be doing what by when) at the end of the meeting.

18. Make sure the agenda and action plan do NOT have the same names for each topic/action. Variety is the spice of life and can provide important energy.

19. Establish a (small) petty cash fund to help people create some fun together!

20. Don’t let the group manufacture drama. When someone talks about someone who is not in the room, go get that person and talk about it in front of that person. Be careful of projecting all the anxiety and frustration on the absent members!

21. Not everything has to be a team decision, but when it IS, make sure the process to achieve a decision involves everyone on the team.

Good luck with the above guide, we’d love to know how you get on.