New ways to use tech are emerging to keep work teams checked in and focused while distanced. Some might stick around and be even better than before.

So, I got a new dog.

What else are you gonna do when your two college kids come home to fill the house…and drive you crazy with their boredom?

You fill up the house even more by fostering a fully-grown male standard poodle. He’s a stud.  Really, that’s his actual job – we’re just fostering him until he gets a couple times a year to earn his milk bones.

I guess I needed a productive pursuit during the lockdown.

A buffet of great business content

My most productive pursuit has been learning.  Captured audiences have motivated great people to provide great content.

In just the last two weeks, I’ve been in a live event with Patrick Lencioni, Senior Equity Analysts from Charles Schwab, Gino Wickman’s longtime colleague and recent EOS Worldwide Visionary Mike Paton, and other brilliant thinkers.

One of Lencioni’s comments really got me thinking about where remote technology is taking us.

My daughter…a leader for our times

Daughter is the bossWhen my wife and I merged our families, I was suddenly blessed with a pre-teen daughter.  Over the years, she and her friends became my window into the young Generation Z culture.

One of the customs I learned to live with was the ubiquity of her ‘posse.’  Her friends were everywhere she was. In her room. At the dinner table. In the car on the way to school. Everywhere!

They were always hanging out…via her iPhone.

To them, there was absolutely no difference between hanging out virtually or in person. Remote was presence.

Who knew she was a better team builder than I ever was? 

Lencioni on the new remote reality

If you’re familiar with Patrick Lencioni’s seminal work The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, then you know his pyramid: Trust – Conflict – Commitment – Accountability – Results.

Lencioni strongly believes that in-person interaction and practice of healthy habits are how team cohesion develops.

That said, in the recent Zoom discussion I attended, he admitted that the reality of integrating remote leadership teams and coworkers is here, and maybe for good.  Let me just repeat that in case it slipped by you.

Remote LEADERSHIP teams are here to stay.

Therefore, he said, we (leadership teams and leadership coaches like EOS Implementers) are going to have to apply all the principles of The Five Dysfunctions in person and remotely.

That is, just like my daughter did, we have to blur the line between virtual and physical presence to maintain team health and productivity.

Four ways to Zoom

Since nearly all of us have had to adopt some version of videoconferencing platform for meetings, I’ll use it as an example of what Lencioni is referring to.

Strategy / leadership meetings – c’mon get real!

Putting out fires should never get in the way of taking a step back to work on the business.  Videoconferencing allows annual, quarterly and weekly Level 10 meetings to take place no matter how many alarms are sounding in the background – or where you are sitting.  So..have them!

One more thing about strategy meetings is that they should always be putting team health to the test. Online, this is harder, as we have immediate distractions around us (hello family and dog!), or we wait for someone else to speak, or our monitor size does not allow us to see real and full body language.  Push for this by getting as distraction-free as possible, turn off the emails and phones, and resize the faces of your team to their largest size as possible.  Lean into involving those who aren’t speaking – get some real ideas and conflict out of them and openly ask questions like “OK…let’s have an opposing viewpoint”…then shut up for 10 seconds and see what happens.   One memorable Lencioni quote from his recent webinar: “until you’ve had a difficult conversation on Zoom, you’re not using the technology correctly. That’s when it gets real.”

Tactical / Project / Business Meetings – visualize it!

Day to day execution means that team members need to keep projects on track and remain accountable.  So use the “Share Screen” option.  One of my clients who has embraced the technology recently told me that his ability to share what he wanted done visually, on screen, rather only saying it, made the interaction more effective. Draw, show the document and your mouse pointer, or show charts/graphs/imagery.  Just don’t forget that you still need to see your teammates faces, too.  Hey… buy a second monitor, no one will hold it against you.

Business social hangout – drinks are on me!

Team cohesion is enhanced by the personal relationships forged at work.  Distance can get in the way of that.  Many are finding ways to inspire that esprit de corps.  How about organizing a Friday happy hour?  Or an Xbox tournament.  Use the tech to bring your people together.  If at first only a few take part, keep at it.  The good news is that drinks really aren’t on you.

The virtual cubical

This last meeting type isn’t really a meeting at all.  But my instincts tell me it’s where we’re heading.  It’s what online retailers call the last mile…bridging the gap between them and the customer’s home.

It’s true, it’s is going to very hard to replace a team working side by side with one working in their virtual cubicles.  The mere physical presence of colleagues around you makes you feel more confident, more professional.

Sadly, this Corona-madness may leave a lasting mark, and perhaps its echoes will ever completely go away.  So, rubbing shoulder to shoulder in the office isn’t going to be what it used to be.

This is where my teenaged daughter comes in.

Envision being in the virtual company of your teammates.  There’s no meeting agenda.  We’re just doing our work while they do theirs – while everyone is on screen sharing the workplace. Like working together in a big conference room.

Don’t wince.  I think it might be one way of re-creating the office environment.  It may sound strange to you right now.  Maybe even a little big brother-ish.  But it could happen, and sooner than you think.

Just think about it, doing your work while others are on the next screen doing theirs.  Incidental conversation can eventually happen naturally as people get used to it.  “How was your weekend?”  “It was quiet, nothing special.”  Might as well be in the next cube over, right?

An invitation: Join us in a free session, to Fight and Thrive

You know this already:  the business climate is forcing owners and leadership teams to make tough decisions that can affect the welfare of dozens, if not hundreds of people.  That’s why we have one mission – HELP FIRST.

Since this crisis began, every virtual planning session with clients starts off with a deep dive into the most urgent challenges they face.

Together, we help them take a step back to think clearly – understand their challenges, debate and prioritize solutions, and then set a clear, immediate plan of action.

The more issue solving sessions we do, the more we realize that we should be sharing what we’ve learned with as many small business leadership teams as possible.

That’s why on April 28th, 10AM-11AM (EST) and May 1st, 2PM-3PM (EST), we will host a Fight and Thrive Zoom videoconference session. Each is open to owners and leaders of small businesses and There is no cost and no strings attached to joining us.

The format will be simple.  We’ll list any challenges, then together we’ll discuss and solve as many challenges as we can in the time we have together.

Not that you need ideas of what challenges you face, but some of the issues we’ve addressed with clients have included:

  • Keeping the remote team ‘checked in’
  • Using EOS Tools to build a plan for a contraction (if needed)
  • How we can use the crisis as an opportunity
  • What should we “be doing already” when the crisis ends
  • Establishing and maintaining focus one month at a time

If you are interested in attending one of these sessions, please click here.  Truly, there are no strings.  Let us help.

In the meanwhile, if we can help you clearly think through other issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

About Grow Exceptional

Grow Exceptional coaches help small business leadership teams to get their organizations “unstuck” and become exceptional, by implementing the proven Entrepreneurial Operating System process (EOS ®).