How to Stay Connected and Engaged
Years ago, the CEO of a small high-tech start-up, long since acquired – had a penchant for “hallway socials”
. Asking questions, starting conversations, getting opinions and ideas – whether it was for new office furniture or company benefits, he made the rounds. If you’ve ever worked at a small company, you know how this works. When the hallways got too crowded, he moved those conversations to a slightly more formal setting – weekly ice-cream socials. And in the time it took to finish off an Eskimo pie and a big stick, to-do lists were made, assignments tasked and decisions made. Teams lived the process, saw the logic behind the decisions and got on-board. Today of course that intimate collaboration just doesn’t scale. But growing companies and their teams still need a forum. How do you achieve the intimacy and effectiveness of those “hallway socials” in a big company(?)
Remote workers face a completely different set of challenges than co-located ones. Opportunities for miscommunication abound as well as anxiety about missing out on the natural networking and visibility that come with being in the office. How do you build relationships with peers and coworkers when you’re not there to sign the group birthday cards? Successful remote leaders and workers have learned that building relationships and understanding the styles of those they work with are keys to success.
One of the realities of working mobile is that you accept added ownership of your career and your ever-growing “toolbox” of skills and competencies. Likewise, you must be proactive in pursuing opportunities and assignments that continue to build your skills, bring new levels of challenge and spur you on to higher levels of growth.
Here are some tips that can help anyone – whether in a small company or large – office or remote – achieve some level of the corporate intimacy and team effectiveness of a “hallway social”.
- Be Proactive and Vocal – don’t assume that people know who you are or what you do
- Volunteer to lead a team call; get on the agenda!
- Be Approachable, Accessible and Responsive
- Develop and promote your “expertise”
- Managing your manager: Help your boss manage the right thing; State your expectations; Stay in touch with regular one-on-ones; Be up front – Honesty builds trust
What about that CEO and those ever-growing hallways? Simulate small staff environment when you can.
- Set up one-on-ones with your second line manager for briefings
- Getting personal – Virtual team calls with some personal connections (virtual “what’s my line”, celebrations)
- Use the latest in “actionable social” tools to facilitate anonymous interaction on a specific topic
- Over communicate
Occasionally, you might hear someone grumbling about the size of your staff: “I don’t know anyone anymore” or “Who’s that
?” You can’t stop growth (well, you can, but you probably don’t want to), but you can simulate a “small office” ambiance. Get everyone together for a spontaneous ice cream social, distribute an e-mail newsletter announcing all new hires (including some background on them), and make sure you know everyone by name. People are social beings and crave contact. Employees collaborate best
when they have personal connections with each other.