Today’s guest blogger is Kevin Hall. A graduate of Cedarville University (B.A.) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Adv. MDiv), Kevin is a current PhD student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family served in Mexico as missionaries. They currently live in Michigan, and Kevin’s long-term goal is to be a professor. He is married to Bethany, and they have three children.
Early in the COVID crisis, the situation forced churches to have staff gatherings, team meetings, and small groups virtually. Though many have now returned to in-person meetings, many others have not—and have, in fact, grown to affirm virtual meetings. Even when team members work together virtually, they can still increase their personal connections with each other. Here are 10 ways to help build team cohesion virtually:
- Prioritize face-to-face time. When team members can’t be face-to-face physically, they should make regular effort to meet together via video. Too much communication happens outside of verbal communication to limit seeing each other.
- Focus on mission. Stay connected to the mission. Reinforce the team’s shared purpose, and remain grounded on the “why” behind your working together.
- Clarify group norms. Teams should have norms for how to interact with one another. Not being physically present often wrongly justifies being rude, unkind, or unprofessional towards another team member. Every team member should know and be committed to the group norms.
- Enforce group norms. Team members should hold each other accountable to the agreed upon norms. At times, distance provides a false comfort zone for some to attack or for others to remain silent when they should speak up.
- Encourage input from everyone. Cohesion comes when every team member feels valuable and wanted. Make it easy for anyone to give input.
- Celebrate successes. Look for and celebrate achievements. Build on small successes by taking advantage of the proverbial “low hanging fruit.” Get excited about what you are doing together.
- Share personal stories. Create an outlet for team members to share their personal-life stories. Help team members get to know each other and connect to what’s going on in their lives.
- Communicate openly. Provide an environment where people are open and honest within the bounds of the agreed upon norms. This openness will allow for healthy communication in order to avoid team stagnation, and interpersonal conflict.
- Connect regularly. Even when you are connected virtually, the connection is real. You cannot over-communicate, you can over-connect if you do it in healthy ways.
- Pray always. If you want to build a cohesive team, pray for each other. Even virtual meetings can become prayer meetings.
Team members may be socially distanced in proximity, but they don’t have to be distanced interpersonally. Cohesive virtual teams turn on their computers to connect to the internet and to each other.
How are you building cohesion with team members if you are still separated?