Article

3 Positive Conversations that every Virtual Team should master

3 Positive Conversations that every Virtual Team should master

As companies look at their performance reviews this year, more managers realize that it will take more than goals, rules and commitment to achieving set targets in distributed teams and remote working.

It will take more in-depth conversations with your team. However, this does not mean following the communication rules set by the organization alone, this also applies to communicating with your teams. Having conversations that introduce new ideas, build commitment, care and create an environment for teamwork and communication.

The path to better engagement and performance, especially in distributed teams lies in positive conversations. Talking positive is not just being pleasant and talking nice.

Positive conversations are –

  • Conversations that speak of future possibilities instead of blaming the current state.
  • Conversations where the dialogue is more in-depth and builds strong relationships.
  • Conversations that align action with aspiration and accountability.

In remote teams, how do we have such positive conversations? Creating an engaging and high-performance team depends on having the following three positive discussions.

The Temperature Check: We check the weather before stepping out; similarly, it is imperative that we limit the emotional temperature of the group before we start any meeting. This is more important in remote teams connecting virtually, as we have no idea about the employee's situation beyond the chat window. The temperature check is a conversation that will bring people to the same emotional and conversational page; consider this as the banks of a river. Getting this conversation right will ensure that the conversation flows smoothly along with the current.

Example: You are a manager who wants to announce the next steps in the project. Not having your team on the same conversational page will mean you lose the opportunity to build initiative and commitment to the project. This will lead to a lack of interest, the team not working in sync, resulting in low performance. A quick temperature check conversation will help you understand the space each of the members is in, and by inviting them to the conversation, will ensure better receptivity and commitment to your meeting.

The Engaging Conversation: People do want to understand, engage, fit in and belong in a team. Therefore, if you design your conversations to ensure you deliver this engagement, you automatically build trust and commitment. Engaging conversations help teams own up and perform better. The purpose of a fascinating conversation is to allow your team to interact and gain positive meaning of their role in the larger goal. People who know why they are working and how their role fits into the larger scheme of the team's and organization's mission feel they contribute better and are more loyal.

The engaging conversation should allow for people to explore, ask questions, brainstorm and become comfortable with change. At this stage, as a manager ensuring that you listen deeply will take the conversation to a deeper level. As you listen, listen not just for the facts that are said; listen for the dimensions of the conversations that are not opening up and initiate them. Listen for the emotions and work with them. An engaging discussion sets the stage for performance and culture.

How do we ensure teams promise their best and deliver it every time?

The Performance Conversation – action-oriented

They deal with:

  • What was promised.
  • What is delivered.
  • How to enhance it.
  • Who and how to execute it?

As a manager, if you know how to get others to perform at their peak and what to speak to get work done, you are worth your weight in gold.

Your conversation should align their aspirations to the said actions and accountability. To have a positive performance conversation, have the goal-setting conversation by including individual aspirations of the team. A SMART Goal may be useful for the project, but ensuring goals are set by including an individual's aspirations would ensure commitment and better performance. The next alignment is with the actual action, connecting individual aspiration to the goals of the team. Developmental feedback, regular performance conversations and support ensures better performance. Often, what lacks at this stage is accountability. Aligning individual and team goals are fine, but the acid test is in the actual performance and the team's integrity to get work done. Setting clear accountability and ensuring that the support systems are in place would help even the teams in remote areas to work towards achieving their goals.

Your conversations are your advantage. How you use them decides the success of your team. Talk positive, allow the engagement and performance to go viral.

About the Author

Dr Latha Vijaybaskar catalyzes positive transformations. As founder and CEO of V.I.T.A.L Conversations, coach and author, she impacts teams and individuals to enhance productive engagement and positive leadership.