Recently, I had the opportunity to hug my colleague, Beth Gibbs, for the first time. Beth is our Operations Manager who has been at ConvergenceCoaching for 3.5 years. Because we’re a remote organization with team members working from home and living around the country, and because Beth lives in Wisconsin and I am in Massachusetts, we have never been in the same physical location together. The two of us have been looking forward to this meeting. It did not disappoint! It was special to observe her in person. For instance, I got to see her profile instead of her face-on Zoom screen. I could watch little things like how she behaved when drinking a glass of sangria instead of the usual work beverage. I experienced her body language and heard little mini-reactions to the discussion (like a small gasp or groan that a Zoom mute would hide).
But here’s the most remarkable part of this first in-person meeting – it was so EASY to be with her. And guess why? Because we already know one another so well! We’ve built a deep relationship at a distance by:
- Solving business challenges together
- Running our planned approaches by each other
- Swapping stories about husbands, kids, pets, and family
- Sharing worries and encouraging one another to overcome them
- Expressing hopes for each other
- Giving each other constructive feedback
- Advocating for each other
- Asking each other for help
- Complimenting one another for a job well done
- Expressing gratitude for assistance
- Laughing at each other’s jokes
- Collaborating on client engagements
- Sharing screens to show our thinking or get feedback on our work
- Editing each other’s emails or meeting recaps
To sum that up, we’ve spent time with one another. We have intentionally built a relationship through the tools available to us, including phone, video, screen sharing, snail mail, email, and text. It worked!
Many of you are skeptical about your own ability to build relationships remotely. Or maybe you’re concerned that others in your firm won’t be able to do so. Whichever it is, here’s how to begin solving the problem. Stop saying it’s not as effective to relate remotely and START ENGAGING! Reach out right now to say hi, ask someone about their weekend, check in on a project, offer help, or provide feedback. Pick up the phone, message someone on Teams, write an email, or handwrite a thank you note. It starts with you!
Who should you reach out to today?
P.S. As we crunched the data for our 2022 Anytime, Anywhere Work ™(ATAWW) Survey, we were dismayed to discover that only 26% of participating firms assign a “shepherd” (guide, career manager, mentor, point person) to each team member. These assignments create an avenue to develop relationships and are the most effective way to tether your people into your organization. Check out the 2022 ATAWW Survey Results Summary for more insights on building and sustaining your remote and blended culture.
P.P.S Beth and I weren’t officially assigned to each other. Please don’t limit your relationship building to coachees or mentees only. As you go about your day, take every opportunity to connect with and praise and invest in as many people as possible. You and those you invest in will reap the benefits.