How to Stay Connected and Engaged with Your Team Members While Working Remotely
by Sandy Rapp, on Dec 2, 2020 12:38:07 PM
A Q&A with Sandy Rapp, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, TravelCenters of America
What is the most impactful change you’ve made in order to keep your team engaged and connected?
SR: All of my one-on-one and team meetings are conducted over video conferences. When we’re connecting via video, team members are more likely to be engaged in the discussion and less likely to be multi-tasking. Being able to see facial expressions also helps to determine whether there is confusion, agreement or disagreement, whereas when calls are audio only, it’s much harder to read the team.
How do you ensure the well-being of your team while working remote?
SR: Regular one-on-one meetings are important. I joined the company during the pandemic and haven’t met some of my team members in person yet. Being able to video chat with my team members provides an opportunity to learn a little bit about their personal lives, what motivates them and what makes them smile. And, if I notice changes in demeanor, I can follow up and reinforce support.
What has been essential to keeping your team connected and engaged?
SR: Being accessible is extremely important. If there are questions or concerns, team members need to know I am available at any time of the day. We use instant messaging and text messages to connect if there are any urgent needs.
What principles, perspectives and values have been key to keeping your team connected and engaged?
- Set a meeting cadence so people know when they are getting together and can prepare to make the most of the discussion.
- Listen—ask questions, ask for feedback and opinions.
- Begin and end all video meetings with a smile.
- Be available and present (virtually) for calls and video conferences—try to avoid multi-tasking.
- Present yourself as if you were meeting in person, face to face.
How is staying connected and engaged crucial to achieving the company’s mission and vision?
SR: We are in the midst of a corporate transformation. We all have to be aligned and effectively work together to drive the significant change we are pursuing. In order to do that, we have to have open, bi-directional communication channels.
How has staying connected and engaged helped drive teamwork and deliver results?
SR: I believe how people feel working as part of a team has a direct impact on the quality of our deliverables. An engaged, motivated team, regardless of their physical location, can drive incredible value when united on their goals, vision and values.
What has working through the pandemic taught you about leading a team remotely?
SR: We are incredibly creative, adaptable and resilient and we are proving that an effective team does not mean having everyone in the same physical place at the same time, all of the time.