Range Greatest Practices For Digital Interactions
Diversity best practices for virtual interactions
L&D professionals think about structure and skill building as we design everything from entire learning programs to individual learning interactions. However, we start by defining goals. The goals for a team meeting determine who should be invited, in what order and with what kind of activities and what the success looks like. When a routine goal like problem solving is tied to a goal to increase inclusion and equity, it’s clear that most teams will need to redesign their interactions. This is a chance to transform old practices with more energy and commitment.
For greater inclusion and equity, I invite you to apply your structural thinking to virtual team interactions in four key areas:
- time management
- Mini-scripts for emotionally risky interactions
1. Distribute time with justice in mind
How you spend your time and your team’s time is a powerful indicator of your true values and priorities. When a topic, challenge, exercise, or person receives little time or attention, everyone on the team will believe that that thing or person is not important.
How is time allocated to different people during your meetings? Who should speak Who can ask questions? Who is asked for their ideas and contributions? Who can speak without express invitation?
Of course, team members with deeper specialist knowledge are given more time for a specific topic or goal. However, no team member should always have more time than others.
Some ways to increase engagement and bring everyone’s voice to the room:
- Create a team exercise where Everyone speaks once before someone speaks twice.
- If you want to measure a team’s response or status, use a short structured check-in involve everyone. Examples are having each person have 30 to 60 seconds to speak when a topic is introduced, one word check-ins (e.g. how do people feel about important information that has just been shared?) And thumb surveys to see if the team is ready to close a topic (yes / no / need more).
Tip: For large groups, you can use the group chat to check in.
- Use one Timekeeper to prevent each individual from exceeding their allotted time.
Tip: Set the timing positive to ensure everyone has the opportunity to speak, rather than a negative or police role.
- In the middle of discussing a topic, Make space for new people to speak. To avoid shy people around, consider a general invitation, such as B. “I would like to invite everyone who has not yet spoken to do so now.”
- Complete tasks (e.g. analyzing, planning, brainstorming) in Breakout rooms with 3-5 people each, then have each breakout pod report back to the main group. This creates more space for everyone to participate in a more intimate environment and increases productivity as well.
2. Distribute authority with rotating roles
Another way to bring more voices into the room is to transfer authority in different roles and switch those roles among meeting participants. This can be particularly important in large groups. When someone takes on a role, they have to act in ways that they may not otherwise enjoy doing, and other team members usually accept their actions in that role.
Some roles to consider:
- Moderator: Set goals, give directions, lead attendees to stay on topic and on time, manage agenda changes (e.g. adding time, moving topics, adding topics).
- Topic owner / moderator (s): When someone has a deeper interest or knowledge in a particular topic, they may be destined to present it or act as an expert that others can consult.
- Timekeeper: Set a timer dedicated to a topic or speaker. Notify the team or spokesperson as needed.
- Challenger: Ask questions to challenge a proposed plan or approach, particularly challenging the underlying assumptions.
- Metacommentator: Which team dynamics play a role (e.g. only the employees of the company speak now and the administrator and sales staff have fallen silent)? What is not addressed (elephants in the room or overlooked aspects of the topic)?
- Scribe: Record ideas, decisions, questions, and action items – whatever will serve the team. Capturing and repeating certain phrases can help the team clarify what they really meant or wanted. A post-meeting summary of the key elements can be helpful in referencing and reviewing accountability.
Not all of these roles are needed in all meetings. However, using them when you need them will give you new perspectives on your interactions.
3. Use structured activities
By structured activities I mean a series of instructions that participants with roles and time-limited steps must follow. For example, a final activity in which each participant shares an outstanding insight that they take away from the meeting in a maximum of 3 sentences. Structured activities can be used to check in, explore a topic, get to know each other, build skills like voting, listening, empathy, feedback, and crossing boundaries, and much more. For more information on using structured activities for team connection and skill building, see here. Structured activities offer several advantages:
- They provide focus and time limits, the basis for accountability.
- You invite everyone to participate equally.
- You pack a lot of commitment in a relatively short amount of time;
- They tend to catch up with posts that otherwise would not have surfaced.
- You will develop skills and habits for better communication, flexibility and adaptability. and,
- Small investments can lead to large behavioral changes over time.
Your combination of structure, accountability and space for everyone to speak is powerful.
4. Use mini-scripts: Tiny step-by-step procedures for challenging interactions
For interactions that feel riskier, just having the opportunity to speak is not enough. When people fear social and emotional – and sometimes professional – consequences if an interaction goes bad, they struggle with what to say and how to say it. Instead, they are often silent.
This is a real loss for the team, because when tricky topics go well, they can clear logs and open up new opportunities. Good candidates for miniscripts are raising a problem, offering and receiving feedback, offering and requesting help, getting consent, saying no constructively, and exposing the impact (positive or negative) of a person’s words or actions.
Mini-scripts provide a template that everyone on the team is familiar with. A well-designed mini-script helps people say things precisely and clearly in an agreed format. Everyone knows the steps and their options, which helps reduce the anxiety of everyone involved. This allows people to start more conversations, and the structure helps them achieve successful results, whether in one-on-one or in a group.
The shortest mini-scripts are a single sentence; For example, a mini-script for offering help is “What would support look like?” This deceptively simple question avoids the greatest pitfalls of assuming that you know what the other person needs or wants and reacting to those assumptions without their consent. It conveys your desire to help and also puts you in control. And it gives them a chance to feel heard as you listen after asking the question. Especially when someone is worried, feeling upset, or feeling alone and overwhelmed, control, support, and listening can make a huge difference.
Your answer could be a specific request, or “Thank you, maybe later” or “Will you talk this through with me and help me figure it out?” Regardless of your answer, the starting point will be what you can accept in the moment, not your assumptions about what you need or want.
Mini-scripts can sound artificial at first as they are not a natural language. They are a distilled language designed for clarity, simplicity, directness and, above all, for success. Mini-scripts can become a kind of shortcut for your team, e.g. B. jargon or in-jokes. There is a lot of meaning in these short sentences, and the simple fact that you know and use them strengthens team membership.
Find training on how to use structures, activities, and miniscripts.
Remember, as you seek to increase inclusion and equity on your team, use the heavy lifting structure to aid your team’s growth and transformation.
Obsidian creates custom, interactive learning programs that engage learners, accelerate skill development, and increase overall business performance. We are a team of professional learners with a passion for creating effective learning experiences.