Building A Strong Team Rapport: A People Leader’s POV
I’ve been a team lead in a remote-first environment for 1.5 years at this point and as I reflect back on my journey, it’s the rapport I’ve built within my team that I am most proud of.
And I use the phrase “within my team” with thoughtful intention. When I visualize our team structure, I do not imagine the lines of trust in a hierarchical way - we aren’t talking about content hub best practices here - but rather I see a spider web of connections across all team members with each other. And I’m in there too, mixed in with everyone else.
How do I build such a strong team rapport - even when we’re all remote?
I use two primary communication channels: a team Slack channel and weekly 30-minute team Zoom meetings. Of course, I have individual 1:1s, goal-setting meetings, and performance reviews with team members too. But it’s the group channels where I strive to foster a culture of learning, sharing, and engagement.
In this blog post, I will share the different strategies and activities I implement to enhance meaningful communication within my team.
Team Slack Channel
The team Slack channel is a remote place to host light-hearted conversations and asynchronous discussions. It’s also a safe space where team members can ask questions, validate ideas, or seek advice before going to the full division or company. Here are three of my favorite conversation starters:
- Question of the Day: kick-start conversations with entertaining questions to encourage active participation. Some of the most successful questions were:
- What is your favorite small business
- If you had to spend $50 on yourself, what would you buy?
- If you could only have lemons or only have limes for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Don’t forget to consider dressings, sauces, and drink recipes! (h/t to Hannah Cooley for this one!)
- WAYWOW: The acronym stands for What Are You Working On Wednesday and is derived from the more common WIWO (What I’m Working On). There is a standard set of questions I send to start the thread and team members can reply when they have time. This allows others to shadow or contribute, promotes knowledge exchange, and fosters teamwork. It also serves as a way for team members to surface hurdles they are facing so myself or others can jump in to help.
- What’s one thing you need to get out the door this week
- What’s your bandwidth 1-5
- Fast Question (such as sweet or salty, favorite snack, go-to lunch, find memory, etc)
- Share a gif that describes you today (make sure it’s safe for work please!)
- Pro Tips: Whenever I come across helpful insights or tips, I share them in the Slack channel. These impromptu tips create valuable learning opportunities and can show that everything doesn’t have to be groundbreaking to be helpful. And now everyone shares when they think of something. A few that stand out in my mind (no laughing if you already know them!):
- Use ctrl+shift+v to paste text without carrying the formatting over (comes in handy for client content audits!)
- Typing doc.new into the URL bar of Chrome opens a new blank Google document. We live in Google docs at Seer so this is especially handy.
- slides.new and sheet.new work too!
- Use white wine to get a fresh red wine stain out
I use our weekly 30-minute team meetings to foster deeper discussions that are designed to build trust, promote leadership, share accomplishments, and provide a space to acknowledge vulnerabilities. Here are some prompts that are in the rotation:
- Name something you’ve worked on that contributes to the division’s goals
- Intent: help team members connect their day-to-day activities to division and company-wide goals
- What is something work-related you are proud of
- Intent: acknowledge accomplishments, increase confidence
- Answer tough client questions (I create a few questions and people take a stab at answering them)
- Intent: allow space for vulnerability, practice tough questions in a low-risk environment
- Talk about a time you messed up or learned a tough lesson
- Intent: share humility, learn from each other’s mistakes, and demonstrate it’s ok to make mistakes at Seer
- What’s on my desk (each person tells the group about something that is on their desk or within arm’s search)
- Intent: fun, boost camaraderie
- Dedicated time to give thanks & praise to others
- Intent: live into Seer’s value of uplifting others
- Share volunteer time you have coming up
- Intent: fun, boost camaraderie, live into Seer’s value of volunteering
All Together Now
Team Slack channel participation and mandatory team meetings can be easy to phone in for a team lead. Or, you could use them as an opportunity for building rapport within your team. Intentional prompts and light-hearted topics are vessels for creating a culture of learning, sharing, and engagement. By leveraging team Slack channels and conducting interactive team meetings, you can facilitate knowledge sharing, encourage personal growth, and build strong relationships among team members. Implementing these strategies not only improves team retention but also contributes to the overall success of the team and organization as a whole.
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