Our last few blog posts have been all about genuine connections in virtual teams and how it’s not only possible to build meaningful connections virtually, it’s possible to produce a feeling of authentic presence that engages employees and powers the team.
Authentic presence isn’t just to make things “nice” in your team, it affects your bottom line. Your virtual employees aren’t clockwork people: they’re human beings with human psychological needs—including the need for connection.
Virtual teams that don’t spend time on team-building end up with demoralized and disengaged employees, resulting in low output and high turnover. Front-line leaders and managers are key to preventing this: an engaging leader who shows his or her investment and presence will make a huge difference in keeping workers fulfilled and present themselves.
What does it mean to be in good, present company?
Engaging workers virtually starts with presence – the feeling that someone is in the room with you, and entirely attentive even when they’re miles away.
In our last blog post, we gave you some tips on presence, and some exercises to do. We’re not going to grill you on whether or not you did your homework, but we do recommend going back and giving these exercises a try if you have not been able to.
Today, we’ll be going one step further, and talking about the real key that goes behind these exercises: intent.
What do I want out of this interaction in my virtual work team?
That’s the question we want you to ask yourself for the next week. In every interaction you have with your team, ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve, and if your actions are in line with that intent.
How to complement work communications with personal motivations?
When most people ask themselves “what do I want out of this interaction”, they usually think about it, and realize their intention boils down to work. Either intentionally or tacitly, the answer to this question is usually “I want to communicate a task.”
In other words: you’re using this interaction to get something done.
It’s not a bad thing to want work to get done. After all, that’s what workplaces—virtual or not—are for. But if you’re in a virtual team and you want to get work done, and form the authentic presence that will make sure work gets done by motivated and engaged employees, we suggest complementing that intent with another.
Give this new intent a try: focus on it before meetings, remind yourself of it during the day, and—at the end of every interaction—ask yourself if your actions aligned with your intent.
Then ask yourself:
- Were you focused on the other person?
- Did you give them time to express their full opinion to you?
- Did you try to create a space and an atmosphere that was welcoming of their input?
Life is too short and our work is too important to run around aimlessly without strong intention. Intent is powerful. In life, we start with intent, turn it into action, and—with luck—that action changes something about the world.