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#WFH: Are You Saying What You Mean?

Relationships and emotional connections in a world geographically distributed are extremely important. Many organizations have a huge challenge with onboarding for this reason. It is important to know who to call when you need something and then how to read the person when they respond. Many people find it difficult to be effective until they know the right people and establish the right relationships. Relationship development is clearly a pathway to success. Collecting information and sharing knowledge effects performance success.

Many managers and supervisors in the virtual environment need to learn new communication skills and intuitive listening. The level and effective-ness of this type of listening impacts information overload and establishes trust and reliance. Creating personal relationships and developing trust when there are limited facial expressions, physical cues and body language requires creating new and different touchpoints. This usually means more communication and touching base more frequent-ly. Regular updates and status reports will help, but intuitive listening is about more than formal communication channels. It is the ability to read people eyes, their faces, their expressions on video chats and their tone of voice in emails. This allows us to touch the other person at just the right time and in just the right way. Communicating in the virtual environment requires unconventional thinking and a willingness to take a few calculated risks (Rea & Field, 2012).

What we say and what we mean are not always the same. Human beings are complex social animals. They have an inherent desire to know what their territory looks like and how to find their place in it. Often this is done with messages that fly below the radar. Reading these messages takes discipline and a well–tuned willingness to connect with the individual. This is a very different mindset than an approach that struggles to maintain control over people, projects, and deadlines. Many managers believe that virtual collaboration can undermine authority. Trust or lack of trust is what happens when we fear we are losing control when we can’t see what is going on. One of the biggest challenges in leading in the virtual workplace is the change in mindset. Managers are no longer managing people’s time and activities. They are accountable for results. Being responsible for results require leaders to step up and take ownership.

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