In my BFNLs dated 4-21-21, I talked about some of the challenges I’m seeing with regard to joining a team in these CoVid times and said I would talk about bringing back the ‘person’ in remote meetings/video conferences.  Again, I’ll start with the ‘why’ for me and then share some ideas on how to improve some of our communications.

Building Back Social Capital in these CoVid Times

I think I mentioned Myers-Briggs in Part I…so I’ll tell you that I’m an ENFP.  The Champion.  Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving. I happen to be an off-the-chart extrovert and an off the chart feeler.  What does that mean?

The ENFP personality type is one of the 16 different types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  People with this type of personality are often described as enthusiastic, charismatic, and creative.  People with this personality type are charming, energetic, and independent.  They are creative and do best in situations where they have the freedom to be creative and innovate.  Only an estimated 5-7% of people are ENFPs.  Huh!  Not like the rest!  ?

Some key characteristics of ENFPs are:

ENFPs have excellent people skills. In addition to having an abundance of enthusiasm, they also genuinely care about others. ENFPs are good at understanding what other people are feeling. Given their zeal, charisma, and creativity, they can also make great leaders.

People with this personality type strongly dislike routine and prefer to focus on the future.  So being my own boss is really good for me.

While they are great at generating new ideas, they sometimes put off important tasks until the last minute. Dreaming up ideas but not seeing them through to completion is a common problem.

ENFPs can also become easily distracted, particularly when they are working on something that seems boring or uninspiring. Yep – that’s me.

ENFPs are flexible and like to keep their options open. They can be spontaneous and are highly adaptable to change. They also dislike routine and may have problems with disorganization and procrastination.

Yes, I have weaknesses.  Like I am disorganized – my desk is a mess – looks like an engineer’s deck; I’m emotional, and passionate to a fault sometimes; I tend to overthink things and I struggle to follow rules.

You can read more at ENFP Personality: Characteristics, Myths & Cognitive Functions ( if you’re so inclined but I would encourage you to figure out what your personality type is and then apply some emotional intelligence (EI) to your every day life.    It will make life easier in all aspects of your life to include work, family, children etc.

As I mentioned, ENFPs are extroverts, which means that they love spending time with others.  Socializing actually gives them more energy, helping them to feel renewed, refreshed and excited about life.  But ENFPs also like some alone time in order to think and reflect. Okay, enough about me….

So, CoVid has been especially challenging for people like me.  Not to discount what everyone else is going through by any means.   Because it kinda sucks for every human on the planet.

I like to manage by walking about.   I like to get out and about and see people, check things out, etc.  Shoot the breeze at the water cooler.  These opportunities always gave me lots of informal interactions with people and that’s what known as social capital.  Benefits people can get because of who they know.  Social capital is critical to a thriving workplace for both employees and organizations.  And CoVid, remote work has stripped us all of that.  The nature of social capital in organizations has changed and not for the better.  In my opinion.

Organizational silos have increased, and trust has diminished. Microsoft’s annual Work Trend Index includes analyses of trillions of productivity signals like emails, chats, posts etc from over 30,000 people in 31 countries.  The trends are clear – peoples’ networks have shrunk -and social and workplace isolation has led to a variety of stress related issues.  Strong workplace relationships matter – and they impact two things critical to the bottom line – productivity and innovation.

So what are we to do?

It’s time to add some ‘in-person’ time, virtually if not physically, back into the workplace.  Whether this is the ‘new norm’ or not.  Whether our world opens back up or not, there are things we can do today to help transition back to having strong relationships in the workplace.   To build back social capital.

Some recommendations for leaders…

  • Be proactive. Not reactive.
  • Make space for social capital to thrive.
  • Encourage and reward social support.
  • Make meetings intentional. Inclusive and social.

Let’s look at Virtual Meetings…

I highly recommend reading, Courageously Propel your Virtual Meetings, Beyond the New Normal by Cynthia Gremban Barnaby, Version 1.0, December 2020. 

She offers 30 practical leadership tips that will help you improve the outcomes of your virtual meetings.  Some seem so obvious but again and again, I don’t see a lot of people taking the time to think, evaluate and revamp meeting structures.

I can’t tell you how many meetings I participate in where there is no value added.  Repetitive weekly meetings just because they’ve ‘always been there’.  Consider eliminating meetings or making them every 2 weeks etc.  Insist on an agenda that’s relevant and not the same every time.  Don’t cancel team meetings at the last minute.  Most honest people, allocate time for that meeting and then can’t schedule anything else at the last minute.

I won’t go over every tip but there are some worth mentioning that will help build up the social capital for your team that I thought I’d share….

  1. Find a way, use tools that will allow everyone to join meetings by video.  Have each person check in on camera and then when it’s time for them to talk, have them put their camera on.  I am on a team and after several months, I still don’t know what my team members look like.  (It’s a gov’t thing…)
  2. Allow people to dial in early to shoot the breeze. Intentionally promote camaraderie at the beginning of every meeting.

Give them 10 minutes to catchup with each other.  Ask one question and ask each person to give an answer?  (What book are you currently reading?)  Check-in on your people.  Celebrate wins with them.

  1. Use the chat boxes to engage your introverted team members.
  2. Actively engage team members to take action. Provide input, next steps, etc.
  3. Use powerful words during your virtual meeting since people can’t see body language. Simple courtesies like ‘I’m proud of you’, ‘what do you think?’ and ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
  4. Decisively end the meeting on a positive note. Summarize action items, last thoughts and take-aways and give kudos where deserved.
  5. Find time to do one-on-one virtual meetings with people. Call it something like ‘Virtual Water Cooler Chat with Tracy’.   Establish that one on one rapport with team members.  Not just boss- subordinate.  Team member to team member.
  6. Have ‘ALL HANDS’ team virtual meetings when you pass info to the whole team. I often see misinformation shared when it doesn’t come from one or the original source.
  7. I once had a ‘virtual mixology’ event, where we our team got together and learned how to make aperitifs and we had a great time getting to know each other. There are lots of ideas out on the web.

Increasing social capital, even a little, will surely help strengthen teams, improve retention, and increase productivity and innovation.  A happy team = happy results.

And lighten up – have some fun……’Cause if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.  ?

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