When I started my career, I remembered clearly that a manager told me that I was being rude by not asking my stakeholders the coveted ‘how’s it going? What did you do over the weekend?’ question before I started every meeting. Well for most of the people in the meeting, I don’t really care for how they are doing (and I’m sure vice versa). For those that I truely cared for, we don’t talk about personal stuff during meetings, texting does the trick. I get that the question helps to break the ice, but is it an effective way?
With covid -19 and Singapore on circuit breaker, many teams have daily calls to catch up and I can just imagine the realistic answers to that question. ‘I baked banana bread’; ’I made granola and its so good I should sell it’; ‘I have nothing else to watch on Netflix’. It doesn’t change much, and is a pretty pointless start to a conversation. I was listening to The Next Big Idea Podcast - Adam Grant on Finding Balance and discovered a a pretty cool alternative.
In the podcast, the speakers spoke briefly on talking with your colleagues/ direct reports about how they are feeling about the company’s strategy. Instead of asking your team ‘how’s it going?’, how about on alternate days, ask them ‘How are you thinking about the team‘s mission differently in lieu of the last 3 months?’; ’What feedback have you been getting from our customers on our goods and services?’; ‘How are you seeing customers engage with our technology differently?’
By asking these questions, you achieve a couple of things:
Employees feel motivated as it reminds them of why they are doing their job and their job purpose
Provides the ’asker‘ a gauge on the level of engagement of the employee (probably the biggest challenge with companies new to remote working)
Stimulates creative thinking amongst your employees on how to adapt to changes
Emphasizes the shared purpose within the team
Consider giving this a go in your next team meeting see if you get different results.