“Come together, right now”, wrote John Lennon about a million years ago when he was with the Beatles…and despite the current COVID-19 impacted climate we’re all living in, truer words could not be sung.
Our corporate training division here at Vancouver TheatreSports continues to work with our clients in a variety of ways during the crisis (including virtual team building in Vancouver), doing a lot of what we did before we’d heard of this coronavirus – bringing people together. We just do this a little differently now.
As an improv-based training organization, connecting teams, connecting companies, creating a culture of collaboration, facilitating open and supportive communication templates and techniques we’re all disproportionately present in the work we did with clients (often through our unique team building experiences)…and now with the social distancing guidelines, the world is being asked to do the exact opposite of physically getting together.
So it’s been interesting navigating the new reality of working with the separation. But technology does allow us to, almost, seamlessly, connect teams. It’s a different delivery and the sessions are customized for the virtual experience, but outcomes are largely the same.
And through observations of our own organization as we are all physically separated, and from the work we’re doing with clients, we’ve noted a few keys to keep in mind as individuals, leaders and team members continue to communicate with each other during these unprecedented times.
Right off the top, it’s important to respect everyone is going to react differently to change, particularly significant change, so empathy is critical to connecting with colleagues…be open to other perspectives and approaches.
A few tips for you:
1) More is Better
We’ve noted with our clients that stepping up the outreach and scheduled connections is better for teams. Even if the schedule can flirt with being annoying, push through, it will be beneficial. It can be video conference calls, texts, old school phone calls, whatever…communicate more, not less.
2) Open the Door
Managers and leaders are going to want to be overly transparent right now. The “not knowing” can create a lot of anxiety. Whatever the message, and right now there’s often quite a bit of negative news to deliver, be open and as transparent as you can.
3) Stay Upbeat
We’re an optimistic group within the improv community, for the most part. It’s kinda part of the deal and that optimistic approach to everything we do is foundational to our corporate workshops.
Being genuinely optimistic, even when delivering difficult news, or problem-solving, or during any interaction, is a communication style that will be embraced by everyone you interact with. Be sincere, be open and be optimistic when communicating during these times – your colleagues will appreciate it and remember it. And being optimistic doesn’t mean being unrealistic or naïve. Again, difficult news can be delivered optimism. It’s about the approach.
4) Focus on Individuals
We see this all the time when an organization is going through significant change, and there’s a lot of uncertainty, whether internally, or in a more macro-way, as we’re seeing now – people become very organizationally focused, or problem-centric, when communicating and will lose connectivity with individuals. Be sure to double-down on individuals when communicating to your teams, acknowledging how they, as individuals have been considered in all decisions, and the impact all of this is having on them.
Obviously, this is a unique and challenging time, but focusing on how, when and what you communicate is important for everyone. Your team will know that you’re all in this together and focused on getting though it as a group, and hopefully coming out stronger on the other side, by supporting each other.
Our friends at Improv to Improve in Dallas also do great improv-based workshops with clients all over Texas, focusing on the same area we do with their customized corporate team building sessions in Dallas, working with change management workshops, and doing virtual team building sessions as well.
Check them out