Traditional workplace communications skills are often honed on the job.
Being able to communicate well is also the foundation of other skills for high performing employees and future leaders – such as influence and working well with others.
The need for excellent support in face-to-face interpersonal skills training is a given for most organisations learning and development teams. HR management professionals often have a range of communications training options to support teams and leaders within their offices. But not so much when it comes to supporting virtual communication skills.
Virtual communications pose different challenges
However, with many organisations now moving towards a hybrid workplace approach, the dominance of in-person communication is being squeezed out. The norm now is a greater emphasis on virtual meetings and a mix of team members participating both in the office and remotely from other locations. And with this change comes the importance of recognising the complex differences between face-to-face and virtual communication, and the associated skills required.
To be a great communicator in the hybrid office calls upon being skilled in traditional forms of communication. But it also calls for being able to harness effective virtual communication. And that generally involves being more confident using the associated technology. But it also highlights another glaring skills gap. The pandemic has forced many organisations to move their teams to teleworking and with that a huge skills gap around effective virtual communication has surfaced. Being able to confidently use virtual communication tech while still being on message can be a huge challenge to even the most expert communicators.
What is the difference between virtual and face to face communications?
The hybrid office is very different and poses a unique set of challenges. Not just around technology, but for each participant to be able to contribute effectively wherever they are located. Some employees may work everyday from the same location and dial in occasionally to a meeting with others physically in a meeting office. While other team members may work more flexibly, in the office some days and remote for the others. The challenge is to ensure that however and wherever the meetings happen the blended use of technology doesn’t hinder but support communication. Ensuring that all participants feel as confident and are able to contribute as effectively as they would in any face-to-face situation.
Transitioning back to the office
If you’re transitioning your workforce back into the office whether fully in person or a hybrid mix, your team members and leaders will still need to be skilled in virtual communications. They will need to feel confident and be able to communicate effectively virtually with co-workers, managers, business partners, stakeholders and clients. Even after several months of working virtually, individuals may be at different levels of ability and skill. Many may have also developed some virtual ‘bad habits’ along the way. To best support your teams and leaders expert learning and development solutions are the key to enabling your employees to be the best virtual communicators they can be.
What challenges are your teams facing now?
Even the most skilled communicator can still get flustered and lose concentration faced with a technical glitch in a Zoom or Teams call. It can be incredibly difficult to keep on message and wildly distracting for participants if presenters are trying to trouble-shoot a technical issue, rather than focusing on their main job. Trouble shooting technical issues, or feeling unconfident communicating virtually shouldn’t be distracting your people from their main role.
These types of barriers to communications can make your people look unprofessional and can really get in the way of their, and your organisations success. In fact the tech used in virtual communications can be a fantastic tool to facilitate great communications, along with your people harnessing a set of well honed virtual communication skills.
How The Method can help support your organisation
When the pandemic hit in March 2020 we quickly transitioned our unique behaviour change programmes to be delivered virtually, and have been really pleased that our clients old and new really like what we’ve done. Some of the challenges we’ve helped address include:
- How to start new relationships virtually
- The best methods to influence virtually
- Picking up conversations with clients you’ve not had contact with for a while
- The best way to initiate the first face to face meeting
- How to ensure your customer and your teams feel confident again in an in-person meeting
- How to easily switch between virtual skills and face to face skills in the same meeting
If you’d like to support your teams and leaders to be the best virtual communicators they can be, we’d love to support you with that too. If you have a specific project or challenge in mind please get in touch with one of our Client Services Managers.