These days, everyone is busy. This is the most common word I hear among friends, clients, and colleagues. We are processing so much information via email, web, Skype, social media, and more. The speed at which markets change also makes us feel like we can’t keep up. Workloads are heavy, and sometimes the things that get sacrificed are the things that could help us the most.
In matrixed, global organizations, teams are constantly changing. We may not even report to the same person this week as we did last week! How can we build rapport when our “team” might consist of dozens of people in a constantly rotating game of musical chairs. And yet time and time again, I see research and hear from clients that informal conversations and trust do have a positive impact on results.
So how do we engage in “teambuilding” with our busy lives and our increasing work demands?
Try this short checklist whenever you are starting a new project, engaging with new team members (even if it’s only for a short time), or brining a new associate onto your existing team. It takes about ten minutes, but can save you loads of time on the backend.
By the way, I just used this method today. It’s been tried and tested many times over!
- Great to be working with you. Since we haven’t met in person, I’m sending an electronic introduction slide that will help you get to know me.
- What is your preferred form of communication? Email? Phone? Skype? Other tool?
- What are your typical work hours?
- What are your other priorities besides this project? About how much time can you devote to this project?
- Are there any terms or acronyms I need to be aware of?
- What should we do if we discover that a deadline is in danger? How should we inform each other?
- What is the time culture for this project? Do meetings start right at their scheduled time or is time more flexible? What does “urgent” mean to you?
- How should we share the burden of time zone differences?
- How do you want to approach this project?
- Let’s connect by video chat for the first couple of meetings so we can build rapport and make sure we’re on the same page.
This ten to fifteen-minute conversation can set things off on the right tone. Even the act of asking people these questions can build trust.
Make a commitment to try this checklist in your next project meeting. Make it a habit and it will become second nature. Once it’s in the flow of your daily work, it won’t feel like work!