Last time, we talked about how your virtual team members can benefit from recognizing their blind spots. Paired with listening to feedback from others who may be able to identify our blind spots is a good strategy to be attuned to your surroundings and yourself.
In this article, we’re going to focus on ways to maintain a good view of what is inherently away from view, especially in a work environment that can be prone to triggering employees to run on auto-pilot and be disengaged from their team.
If you do not notice how you behave toward others, especially with distance wedged between you and your virtual team members, you may fail to recognize how your behavior affects your team. What you cannot recognize, you cannot change. It takes conscious effort to recognize blind spots.
The world is busy and so is your virtual team. It should not come as a surprise that so many individuals today run on auto-pilot, removing themselves from the moment they are physically in.
Are you constantly on auto-pilot?
Stop and think about your day.
At any point, did you get distracted while typing an email to a colleague and still managed to hit send? Perhaps you were reading something on your computer screen while your hands reached to dial the teleconference number for your next meeting.
Take a moment and think about your reasons for being on auto pilot. Do they include:
- excessive presence of technology;
- an overwhelming list of things to do;
- meetings that you feel are a waste of time; or
Let’s focus on technology.
How technology can hinder your virtual team’s engagement
With technology so mobile and offering so much information in your pocket, it’s easy to get caught up in devices when they offer so much to do on the go. Your virtual team relies on technology and the mobility it offers.
But sometimes, what allows your team to be virtual can be taken for granted at the expense of the team. A trap people can fall into is becoming so absorbed in technology and their devices that they don’t pay attention to their surroundings, let alone themselves.
An example of this trap is when Virtual Team Builder’s founder, Claire, once sat in a lobby across from a young man who was focused on his iPhone. Claire stepped away from her seat, leaving her laptop for no more than a minute. A homeless gentleman, wrapped in a blanket, picked up Claire’s laptop and walked out of the building. The young man on his iPhone never even noticed; his eyes never left his device.
Is there ever a right time for an auto-pilot setting?
Your auto-pilot comes on to assist you in checking off items on your to-do list without having to be completely present while the task is done. Your auto-pilot allows you multi-task. Your auto-pilot helps to just get things done, but at what risk?
Your virtual team needs to move beyond just getting things done – whether it is during your team meetings or your one-on-one’s. After all, the person on the other end of the technology deserves your full attention.
Even without seeing (replace the hands fumbling, they can be doing anything), you can still tell if someone is distracted or disengaged from a conversation.
You need to be aware and recognize that what you’re doing can be felt and sensed by others.
How can you achieve this self-awareness?
Here are steps to follow:
- Slow down what you’re doing, thinking and saying.
- Observe your own words and actions, and how others respond to you.
- Take stock of what you’re doing and why.
Your virtual team’s reactions to you may not always be readily accessible; you can’t see a frown over phone line or crossed arms. If you let yourself do everything mindlessly, including interacting with your colleagues, you can miss the cues that are available to you.
If being so absorbed in technology can cause the young man with the iPhone to miss Claire’s laptop being stolen in a face-to-face environment, realize how many cues you might be missing in your virtual environment unless you attend to what is around you.
In the next few articles, we’ll explore how an overwhelming list of things to do, boredom and virtual meetings can cause your virtual team to run on auto-pilot and lead to disengagement.
Your virtual team can move beyond an auto-pilot setting and make a habit of engaging with themselves and with each other through genuine presence, fostered through self-awareness. Virtual Team Builders can help you get there.