We are all having to confront uncomfortable levels of change. In our work lives we have lost, at least temporarily, physical contact with colleagues, suppliers and customers. Mutual trust levels are being put to the test. This is important because in our experience, when trust breaks down governance and management issues typically emerge.
Therefore, it is important to ensure we maintain and build upon the trust we currently enjoy as we make the switch to communicating virtually. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind in this context.
- Begin by removing potential obstacles to success.
Perhaps there may be existing tensions between a colleague and yourself that remote working and communication could accentuate. If so, don’t ignore it. Be the bigger person, acknowledge that it exists, and you will be on your way to making VC contact work better internally.
- Be open and honest.
You currently enjoy the trust of your colleagues, suppliers, and clients. You are all having to make similar adjustments and experience a lot of the same learning, especially as it relates to new ways of communicating. Admit to any lack of knowledge you may have in this area – learning together can be very enjoyable and the bonds you build now will strengthen your relationships still further.
- Accept it can be challenging and tiring.
Just because you are working from home and avoiding a daily commute doesn’t mean that your working day will be any less challenging. In fact, staying in touch with colleagues and maintaining client relationships in this way can be exhausting, especially as it will involve moving between remote meetings often with domestic distractions in the background. So, make sure to take regular breaks between virtual meetings.
- Recognise that communication may need to be even more structured than in the past.
This is especially the case with colleagues. It is not currently possible to pop over to someone’s desk or meet them at the coffee machine, and so communication with key team members may require planning that was not the case previously.
- Consider recording yourself.
Most video conferencing technology will include a feature allowing you to record yourself in a meeting. Whilst this suggestion may seem somewhat odd, consider that this presents the opportunity to evaluate your own performance as you interact with a client. Ask their permission before you do this of course, explaining why you propose doing it!
In fact, why not use the current disruption as the cue to take a more detailed look at the health of your client relationships? The ability of your organisation to maintain good quality client interaction will have been stress-tested recently. Only your clients will know how you have performed.