6 minute read – Posted by – September 2, 2020

How to better connect using video with remote 1-on-1s

Ask the Expert with Ashleigh Myerscough — Episode 15

Ashleigh Myerscough, Senior Performance Coach at 7Geese answers your questions about human resources and people management during the pandemic. 

Q: How can we add more connection into our remote one-on-ones?

AM: If you are just starting your 1-on-1s program and building a culture around 1-on-1s in this remote working environment, check out our previous video by Robert St. Jacques, How do you implement a 1-on-1 culture remotely? 

When we are facilitating our 1-on-1s remotely, we are missing some key situational and non-verbal cues that help make our 1-on-1s really effective. As a result, we may be starting to feel the 1-on-1s are less of a connection and more of a checkbox activity, which is the opposite to the goal of 1-on-1s. 

Accounting for situational cues

Let me explain what I mean by situational and non-verbal cues. In the office, you as a manager would likely pop by your team members desk and say, “you ready?” then walk with them to the meeting room. 

Now, we both simply pop into a Zoom window. We miss the opportunity as managers to see what the team member was up to right before the 1-on-1; were they in flow work, in mid-conversation with another team member, struggling with an activity, etc. Those different activities can influence how our team members show up for their 1-on-1 and we miss those cues in a remote setting. 

Tip #1: Make small talk like you are walking to the meeting room together as you start your remote 1-on-1. Ask them if they’ve got their coffee, if they had a chance for a quick bio break, and what they were working on before they had to switch gears for this 1-on-1. This will help your team member context-switch, just like we used to do as we were switching rooms in the office. 

Keeping the focus solely on the 1-on-1

The next situational cue we are currently missing out on is the actual room we used to go into for our 1-on-1s. Just the action of walking to a different space, with likely only a pad of paper and pen or your computer, was a signal that this meeting was important. Our time as a manager was solely focused on our team member for the next 45 minutes to an hour. 

In our remote world, if you’re like me, you likely have a ton of tabs open, notifications coming in from email and slack, and have been multitasking before the meeting. 

Tip #2: Bring just your 1-on-1 material to the remote meeting and focus only on the team member. This means turning off your notifications so you don’t get distracted, close the tabs you don’t need and communicate to your team member that they have your full attention during their 1-on-1. In doing so, we’re replacing what was a normal situational cue with a verbal acknowledgement. 

Reading non-verbal cues in a video environment

Now let’s talk about the non-verbal cues we may be missing out on right now due to our remote 1-on-1s. In person, we can see when a team member starts to get uncomfortable or excited — they shift in their seat, lean in or away from us, fidget or take notes. Even in person it can be hard to pick up on those cues, but it’s even more so remotely, when we may only get a view from the shoulders up. 

Tip #3: Turn the non-verbal into verbal. Ask your team member how the feedback, topic, or discussion resonates with them and give them space to formulate their response. Some of us need time to reflect. Rather than getting a “Oh yeah, that makes sense” just to fill the air, give your team member some time to reflect and make sure it landed the way you intended it to. Since we can’t see them crossing or uncrossing their legs, or fidgeting with a pen in their hands below the camera, give them the space to tell you how that landed and unpack further if needed. 

Making small talk, bringing just your 1-on-1 materials and focus to the meeting, and turning the non-verbal into verbal will help you put some of the connection back into your remote 1-on-1s.

Learn more about 1-on-1s

To learn more about how to conduct 1-on1s using 7Geese, read about our 1-on-1s feature, or reach out to us to get a tour of 7Geese’s performance management software.

Ashleigh Myerscough

Senior Performance Coach at 7Geese