One of the skills which is important to develop in the virtual world today is empathy. One of the challenges is that we don't get to see beyond the screen. What are some ways we can be building more empathy and understanding with other virtual team members?
What comes to mind in terms of ways you can boost more connection and understanding amongst team members?
Empathy is a skill set critical for teamwork and leadership. In fact, I probably could do a series of post on this topic. In today's post I want to zoom into the question of "what are some practical ways to build more empathy across virtual teams, while also boosting connection?".
There have been some great writings by others on the topic of empathy. Consider these articles -Empathy in Leadership - 10 Reasons Why It Matters by Tanveer Naseer. Read it here.
Matthew Taylor's Empathy in Leadership: Coaching Leaders to Manage Their Stories. Read it here.
Center for Creative Leadership: Empathy in the Workplace. Find this here.
As virtual teams, what are some ways we can build our skills in empathy while building connection:
1. Provide opportunities for team members to get to know each other - online and offline. While some virtual teams will never meet, building in time for "getting to know" each other is critical. This could entail dedicating some time to sharing "What's outside your window?" or "…on your desk" as I describe in Chapter 7 of my new book Effective Virtual Conversations.
2. Create formal learning partnerships with others on the team. Many virtual teams benefit from having peer partners to meet with on a regular basis. This helps us to learn more about each other, what projects we are working on. As we listen and learn more trust, connection and understanding is created.
3. Be present and listen. We continue to see how important the ability to focus on virtual conversations is. Nothing will destroy trust and connection faster than hearing other person on the end of the phone or streaming typing away, writing an email while you are speaking together. What will it take to be present, focus, and deeply listen in your virtual conversations?
4. Listen for the deeper layers - Typically in listening we may be staying at the surface. Hearing with one ear and thinking about what we are going to say back to the other person. In the deeper listening needed by virtual teams today, listen to what the person is saying. Notice the pace, pitch of the conversation. Notice what is the emotion behind the words? What is being said?
5. Take time to share more about your world, your work, your priorities. An important part of empathy is understanding. It's a two-way street - being open to share, and being receptive to listening. how much are you sharing about your world, your work and your priorities?
There are multiple ways be can be focusing on the skills of empathy as we build connection on teams. What are some approaches you as a team want to focus on?
With best wishes,