Connecting with Your Team
September 15, 2013 by Rose Cook
I was fortunate to be able to connect with some old friends recently. Thinking about it later and smiling about what a great time we all had I realized, while social media is a great way to stay in touch, nothing beats the opportunity to get together and connect in person. Getting together with friends, sharing a few stories and a few laughs is so much better than just reading about their news on Facebook. It’s these relationships that we value and nurture and these relationships that energize and invigorate us.
Building relationships is just as important in Project Management. E-mails and conference calls are fine, but there’s a lot to be said for the opportunity to meet as a team now and then. Engaging face to face allows you to make eye contact and express emotion through your body language. Your gestures and tone of voice can be as impactful as the message itself. While your tone can be distinguished on a conference call, your message can be entirely lost. Have you ever been on a conference call where you were also checking your e-mail, working on another task, texting, having your lunch…? We’ve all done it. As a PM trying to promote interaction and feedback from your team, it’s too easy for the participants to hit the mute button and tune out – or at the very least be distracted by something else that’s there with them when you’re not.
I know from experience that a meeting where the team is all present tends to be much more productive than a conference call. Something about everyone being in the same place promotes more engagement and participation and definitely more focus. Being able to read the body language and expressions of the others can also provide insight that listening on a call can’t. Ever throw a bad idea out there and notice people cringe! No one may want to tell you they disagree, but it’ll more than likely be written all over their faces. I’ll use the example of my teenager giving me the “eye roll” when I tell him he has to be home by a certain time. Not a word needs to be spoken, but that simple gesture lets me know exactly how he feels about my idea.
Bringing everyone together lets them know they’re a valued part of the team and as the PM it’s worth your time to get to know your team on a more personal level. Understanding a little about how each person thinks, what makes them tick and what motivates them can help you to get the best out of them. I’m not suggesting that every time you need to communicate you should call a meeting – nobody really wants to spend all of their time sitting in a conference room! However, every now and then getting everyone together can be just what’s needed to get focused and re-energized.