The team environment should be a safe zone where each member feels empowered to speak and contribute. Here are some ways to improve participation:
- Actively solicit questions
- Provide multiple ways for employees to share their thoughts
- Encourage dialogue and discussion on feedback
- Learn from each other
Employees should understand that information coming from the team is handled in a very controlled manner. In traditional in-person teams, people rely on each other’s behaviors and trust to manage the flow of communication. In a hybrid world, the use of tools makes it possible to circulate this information very freely and quickly. It is therefore important to have mechanisms in place to ensure that the team has some privacy for the conversations that take place. This helps promote a safe space to contribute.
- Mix of formal and informal engagement
In a normal office, we see a mixture of formal and informal conversations. In the remote world, we see casual conversations typically at the start of a live meeting as people wait for participants to join. There is a general need for more interaction and more flow of information. Formal communication is usually through live meetings and is followed by formal (and often lengthy) emails to the team. Informal communication is limited to the few unplanned moments between meetings and lunch, after-work activities, or carefully planned trips.
Improving and increasing communications and informal conversations is an important factor in improving trust and participation. These informal communications are the means by which team members get to know each other. Once we get to know each other, we tend to gain empathy and appreciation – two positive factors that lead to better trust and team participation.
These conversations need to happen throughout the day, not just during a scheduled offsite. The way to learn more about teammates is through frequent and short conversations. It’s not about planning a long, formal speech, but rather a short slideshow showing information about each team member – but done frequently.