Working remotely makes maintaining a high level of employee engagement a real challenge for leaders. Many of us are exposed to extremely high levels of workload, stress, and anxiety, which are serious obstacles to keeping our focus on work.
“We are currently in a crisis of affiliation,” said Edward Sullivan, CEO of coaching firm Velocity Group. “Apart from the fact that people have to stay at home and deal with the challenges of the pandemic, including health problems and/or the education and upbringing of children, they also have to adapt to the loss of physical contact with their colleagues. Leaders have the task of creating a sense of connection and belonging, “he added.
Although some companies have tried to address this issue of running games with the entire Zoom team after hours, this approach has not always been effective. “Often these events became silent and awkward, with 40 people staring at each other,” Sullivan said. “The approach that works is to bring together smaller groups of people and face-to-face meetings between a leader and an employee,” he said.
According to him, uniting people in smaller group initiatives is a task that fits perfectly with the strengths of introverted leaders.
“Introverted leaders feel more comfortable working in smaller groups. They are usually more successful in face-to-face communication than in delivering speeches to a large audience. “Since there are no large audience gatherings in large presentation halls at the moment, this is the perfect time for introverted leaders who want to shine,” Sullivan said.
Finding ways to build a relationship
Introverted leaders are more likely to listen to others before speaking, and are usually more interested and attentive to what their interlocutor says. They are also good at connecting with employees who are experiencing some difficulties. Although introverted leaders are in a particularly good position to meet the challenges of the current work environment, all leaders can learn to use a few tricks from their tools to their advantage.
“During the pandemic, we learned how important social skills are. Until recently, we spent 8 to 12 hours a day in an environment that suddenly disappeared. Moving away from the office leads to the alienation of employees. Leaders have a responsibility to create liaison initiatives, ”says Sullivan.
According to him, the meetings with the team should not be stopped, but simply transformed. He advised the team to be divided into groups of two or three to meet separately. In these meetings, leaders can ask different topics of conversation, such as asking employees about things their colleagues do not know about them.
“It is important to encourage more in-depth conversations that help build a relationship. Now, however, you need to be proactive, as there are no more meetings around the coffee machine or water machine. You need to be focused on your online communication, ”Sullivan advises.
However, he warns you to be careful with team activities, as competition in different games may be pleasing to some employees, but may have the opposite effect on others.
It is also important to pay attention to the preferences of your subordinates, especially when it comes time to return to work in the office.
“The pandemic has created a need for more flexibility in the workplace. Some people can’t wait to get back to the office, while others may consider telecommuting the best option. The pandemic gave companies a chance to reevaluate the meaning of the office and what it means to be part of a team. While some of your employees will prefer to be in the room with you, others will choose Zoom meetings. You need to be able to respond to the demands of both groups, “Sullivan said.
The change in management style
This period is an invitation for all leaders, whether introverts or extroverts, to acquire new skills and knowledge.
“Interestingly, for years, the leaders of the Silicon Valley and New York introverts came to us with the question, ‘How can I become a better communicator?’ Now extrovert leaders are looking for help in finding a way to build better relationships with their team members in a more intimate setting. They say, “Help me deal with a situation where I can’t go into a room and give a great speech,” Sullivan said.
If leaders do not find a new way to connect with their employees, they risk entering a period of low productivity.
“We need to trust each other now more than ever. If a large number of your employees feel alienated, you will learn about this from their poor performance, which will ultimately harm the entire business of your company. “Leaders don’t have to wait to get to that point,” Sullivan said.