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On Your Own Time

Asynchronous communication is when the exchanges of information among colleagues, clients or businesses do not happen in real-time, but whenever the other person is able to communicate. Our workdays are already filled with async communication (like email) but the pandemic has forced a lot more people to leave their shared workspaces and sit at their homes.

Zoom and even instant messaging is synchronous communication, and async communication is actually slow and less collaborative among team members, something which leads to confusion and even isolation.

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Remote work involves asynchronous communication, but also involves Zoom check-in meetings and real-time messaging, making it a hybrid activity.

The pandemic has forced async communication on various companies which are now facing the pros and cons.

  • The main advantage of async communication is that it enables deep thinking, as the expectation of someone responding immediately isn’t there.
  • People can work in ‘flow’ mode and then schedule a time to communicate at their own convenience.
  • New joiners are easy to get on board, as they have access to extensive information and get synced up before they start.
  • Meeting fatigue is reduced as people can watch recorded meetings on their own time.
  • Traditional office hours and location are no longer something to worry about, as Flexi-work across the globe becomes the norm.
  • Async communication blurs the line between work and home, something that already became fuzzy since smartphones came(starting with the Blackberry, for those who remember them).
  • There is a feeling of disconnection from the rest of the team members, with the interactions lacking visual cues and warmth.
  • The workers are responsible for being up to date with every new development.
  • Work is done alone and each worker is responsible for their own productivity, with some employers seeing it as a trust issue, with increased monitoring.
  • As companies have different work environments and data privacy issues, problems of micromanagement arise with remote workers doing asynchronous communication.
  • Lack of socializing and a dearth of informal conversations are common problems for team members working alone at home in different parts of the world.
  • Messages on Slack, even with the emoji are sometimes misinterpreted by colleagues. Many workers are email fatigued, more prone to misread the message.

Both Async and Sync communication is necessary in a workplace.

As real-time communication is necessary to boost team morale, employee engagement and creative brainstorming, we cannot rely on only asynchronous communication. The manager needs to balance the communication methods to create a model best suited for the company culture.

Reluctance to be vulnerable

Many workplaces encourage their employees to be vulnerable and authentic as it can bring people closer and make teams stronger.

But doing so can also backfire. Many people fear to be vulnerable at the wrong time or with the wrong person. It may make them seem incompetent if they’re in a more performance-oriented culture at work.

Just because vulnerability helps to build trust doesn’t mean you should share everything with everybody. The key to vulnerability is in establishing boundaries.

We share our emotions and experiences to move our work, connection or relationship forward. Therefore we have to examine our intention around sharing, question who we’re sharing with, and whether it’s the right thing.

The most vulnerable and authentic leaders personally disclose very little. It means that you can be vulnerable without revealing everything about your emotions or life.

You could say, “I’m really struggling right now. I have some stuff going on, and it’s hard. I want you to know what support looks like for me is that I’ll check in with you if I need something or I may take some time off. I will bring it up with you when it’s helpful for me but don't want to answer a lot of questions about it.”

Behaviors of highly engaged employees
  1. They do not use their problems as an excuse from mistakes. They don't let the problem affect their ability to perform.
  2. They know how to take accountability for their actions.
  3. They are independent and are proactive in learning how to solve problems on their own until a collaboration is needed.
  4. They explore different methods on how they can do their best work and focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses.

Managers create the conditions that promote the behaviors of engaged employees with the relationships they establish.

  • The bosses who individualize create a space for their employees to seek out their strengths and only ask when advice is needed.
  • The bosses who generalize will often require constant managerial intervention because they don't foster engagement-creating behavior.

Asking engagement oriented questions allows the employee to be able to think for themselves and to examine situations, analyze their own performance and generate great ideas or solutions.

This method is modeled from the Socratic Method that aids in stimulating mindful observation and critical thinking.

For example: "This report has been on your desk for a while now. Are you having trouble getting the information you need to complete it? Do you need help?"

Kindness Is Contagious

Observing the psychological aspects of kindness, witnessing a kind act makes one feel a ‘warm glow’ in our hearts, something which researchers call moral elevation.

When people watch other people being generous and kind, it inspires and motivates them to want to do good.

When people observe kindness or generosity, they may be subtly pressured to look good and be more giving themselves. But this is just one of the minor reasons, as many act in an anonymous manner.

Seeing the other person being kind, people get to unconsciously copy their behaviour as the prosocial desire for goodness is rekindled.

  • Women seem to be affected (or motivated) more than men by the kind behaviour of other people.
  • A kind act on the street, or on TV had the same effect on people.
  • The kind of kindness witness related to the response of the witness. If the act was praising, for instance, the response would be similar.
  • If a lot of time passed between witnessing the act and trying to act in a similar manner, the giving impetus diminished.
Moving from in-person to remote customers

Travel restrictions and safety concerns irrevocably changed the ability for companies to bond with clients and customers. Many companies still are trying to figure out a good way to connect with clients over virtual platforms.

The lack of in-person interaction makes it much harder for seasoned salespeople and customer-relationship managers to "read the room." It results in missed opportunity and causes a loss in the ability to discover new and transformational ideas and products together.

There are certain personality archetypes in every business partnership.

  • The decision-makers: In person, around a table, decision-makers are easy to identify. Virtually, it can be challenging to identify the decision-makers and to identify what they need to make those decisions.
  • The skeptics: Skeptics could be engaged with one on one, often after a meeting to ensure their concerns were heard. In the remote world, it's more challenging to identify and share ideas with them.
  • The trailblazers: Trailblazers often get what you're doing and may endorse a strategy and find a way to innovate and fund them. One could connect with trailblazers at coffee breaks or sidebar conversations. This has all but disappeared in the online world.

Because remote work is likely to persist in some form, business leaders charged with nurturing customer relationships must find a new way to build and grow transformational partnerships.

  • Rediscover the art of business relationships: We need to make time to socialize. Starting a call 10 minutes early for anyone who wants to catch up can allow for the conversations that would typically happen at in-person gatherings.
  • Get creative: Because you're saving money by not entertaining, other creative ways can be found to impress your partners while still building your relationships, such as a virtual studio tour.
  • Demonstrate empathy: The world has also changed for the decision-makers, skeptics, and trailblazers. Ensure to find time to ask them about their internal relationships.

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