Showing employees that they are valued has never been more critical than it is today. With many teams continuing to be remote and many workplaces choosing to remain digital, it is crucial that we learn how to communicate respect and appreciation even when we are apart.
The bestselling author of Digital Body Language, Erica Dhawan is an expert on digital teamwork, collaboration, and innovation. She helps teams and organizations tap into their “connectional intelligence” to take their collaboration to the next level in an era of digital-first workplaces.
In a recent article for Ted as part of their “How to Be a Better Human” series, Erica shared four tips to help leaders learn how to communicate value to their remote teams. It’s about learning how to “value visibly”, she says, by using the right digital cues and signals. In a digital world, this means being more sensitive to people’s time and needs, reading their digital communications with care and attention, and respecting them — all without being in a rush.
Here are four easy ways to show others that you value them, no matter where they are:
1. Read carefully
We depend on digital communication, but we are not very good at taking in information this way. We tend to skim online communication and too often multi-task as we’re “reading”. Erica writes:
For example, here’s a recent email exchange I had with a client.
Me: Do you want to speak Wednesday or Thursday?
It left me speechless. And I’m still speechless!
Our need for speed does not translate well in digital communication. The exchange above, Erica writes, is the digital equivalent of talking over each other. To show value through digital communication, you have to actually show people that you read their message and understood it. If you feel like you are too busy to give it your full attention, send them a quick email or text to acknowledge it and let them know you’re on it. This is much preferred to sending a rushed and sometimes incorrect answer.
Ensuring you address relevant points and answer any questions posed is how you visibly show value in a digital world.
2. Write clearly
“Writing well is a critical mark of respect,” Erica writes. It is easy to misinterpret an email simply because of a missed word or misleading punctuation mark. The solution is simple: proofread!
So, if you’re the boss, be mindful of what you are saying and asking of others. If you’re not the boss, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification up front to save you time. It’s also ok to take the conversation off email — we often get too caught up in asking questions via email, when a simple chat or meeting could save our inboxes from filling up.
“Make it a point of pride to send clean, unambiguous communications that will help people take what you write seriously,” Erica says.
3. Recognize everyone who’s at a meeting — not just the people right in front of you
When Erica hosts digital meetings, she asks her remote attendees to lead part of the agenda. This ensures different voices get a chance to be seen and heard, showing that they are valued. This is especially important in hybrid meetings, where some people are in-person while others are remote. Too often, the in-person people dominate. This technique engages remote employees as well.
4. Make space for introverts
Louder voices monopolize conversations. This is true with in-person and remote teams — introverts tend to shy away from jumping in on phone calls or rapid email exchanges.
To counteract this, one of Erica’s clients created a process that follows every monthly team call. She asks every team member to email her directly by the end of the week and answer two questions: “What’s the bad news I don’t want to hear?” and “What might we have missed in our last discussion?” This creates a regular space for people to feel comfortable sharing bad news or challenges, if needed, while also giving introverts more time to process information. From this, Erica’s client gains excellent insights that would’ve been missed if she just stuck with meetings, plus her team feels heard and respected.
While technology helps us stay connected digitally, it makes it easy to lose that human connection we all need. Valuing visibly makes people feel seen and appreciated — the kind of recognition that makes a big difference! It’s possible to do this in both in-person and remote workplaces, it just requires learning how to communicate effectively in a digital landscape.
Erica Dhawan is the CEO of Cotential, a consultancy that helps modern leaders drive disruptive thinking through removing bureaucracies and inefficient communication patterns. As a keynote speaker, she has presented to organizations and enterprises ranging from the World Economic Forum at Davos, to US and global Fortune 500 companies, with Thinkers50 calling her the “Oprah of Management Ideas”, and Real Leaders ranking her #1 among their “Top 20 Women Keynote Speakers of 2020.”
Interested in learning more about Erica and how she can help your digital teams communicate more effectively? Email us at [email protected].