Want to be more creative in your remote team communication? Start here.
If you’re like most managers we talk with, you face the perfect trifecta of remote team communication challenges.
First, you’ve got A LOT to communicate. With so much change, keeping your team informed can feel like a full-time job.
Second, your employee’s heads and hearts are full. The fast pivot, the emotional strain, and concerns for the future all create distractions that compete with your messaging.
Third, Zoom fatigue is real. People are tired of all the meetings and are looking for a way to mix it up.
So how do you find more creative ways to improve your remote team communication?
Communicate What’s Important Five Times, Five Different Ways
Let’s start here. If a message is really important, communicating once on a Zoom call is not enough. To get past the distraction, you want to communicate five times, five different ways.
When we work with managers to build their strategic communication plans, we always start by asking, “What do you want your people to think, feel or do as a result of this communication?”
For example, suppose a key message for your team right now is, “Work-life synergy matters. We need to find a sustainable pace that keeps us all emotionally and physically healthy.”
Note: We chose this example because it’s emerging as a theme in almost every organization we work with (including our own company.)
Message: Work-life synergy is important. I care about you as a person. I don’t want you to work all the time.
What I want my team to think: That I’m serious about this and will put actions behind my words. I am a role model for this.
What I want them to feel: Valued and supported. I want them to feel they can exhale.
What I want them to do: Talk to me about finding a workable schedule based on their unique needs. Schedule some white space on their calendar between meetings so they have time to think. Find a routine that gives them the renewal they need.
Five-by-Five Communication Plan
- Virtual town hall
- Video message
- Discuss each person’s approach in their one-on-one.
- Yard signs (yes, one of our clients actually did this.)
- Care packages sent to each employee’s home with a note from you reinforcing key messages.
Help Your Team Find More Creative Solutions: Five By Five, in Five With Five
We’ve been doing a quick exercise in our live-online leadership training to help managers get more creative with their communications. We call it 5×5 with 5 in 5. We break the group into breakout rooms of five people and invite them to spend five minutes to come up with as many “realistic and creative” ways to communicate with their teams.
A spokesperson for each group then shares their ideas, and the other groups cross off anything another group said. As facilitators, we type all the ideas into the chat box so everyone has a visual record of the ideas.
The group with the most original ideas “wins.” Of course, everyone wins, because they have new approaches to get creative in their remote team communication. And have more strategies to mix into their 5×5 communication plan.
Just a Few of the Fun and Creative Ideas That Emerged From This Process
- Play “telephone.” Start with a key message you need everyone to pay attention to. Tell one person on your team and then ask that person to call one other person, and then that person to call the next down, etc. Challenge them to deliver the message with no distortion. People will pay extra attention because they don’t want to be the person who screws up the challenge. Then have the final person share the message they received in the next staff meeting. This “check for understanding” gives you another way to reinforce the message.
- Send a personal note to their home (or a thank you note to their significant other, or kids.)
- Use topic-based asynchronous communication channels for both work-related and human interest conversations (one team was really digging their “healthy recipe” channel.)
- Leverage your virtual backdrop to visually reinforce key messages.
- Turn your message into a song or skit.
- Use Cameo app to send a personalized message from a celebrity.
- Send the team a tee-shirt about the key priority.
- Do a drive-by parade with a sign on the car.
- Use Gifs.
- Produce internal podcasts.
- Conduct weekly town-halls.
- Recognize strategic behaviors.
- Host friendly competitions.
- Make individual phone calls.
- Write Sharpie messages on your arm to show on Zoom calls, conveying “This is how important it is: I’ve practically tattooed it!”
- Have another leader share/reinforce the message.
- Use Peer-to-peer messaging.
- Give it a theme—brand it.
- Throw a virtual kick-off party about the message.
- _______________________ What would you add?
We would love to hear your thoughts. What are your best practices for more creative remote team communication?