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Rethinking My Online Meetings Stance

October 16, 2020

I’m not much of a team guy. Well, that’s not true. I enjoy teams that are brought together by common interests. I’m not as fond of teams forced on me by organization charts.

I have a fairly large virtual team. I have five locations across the country. Each site has a leadership team that I have to work with. Each site also has an onsite engineering team. Each site also has an Operations team. I have to work with all three groups. I also have people at the client that are part of my virtual team. I also have people in our central IT team, a security analyst, network engineers, System engineers, Service Desk managers. Over all, there’s probably 80 people that I work with on a daily and weekly basis. These are my people. This is my tribe. Here is my team.

But, it’s a virtual team.

I also have a formal team. Other people who have the same job responsibility that I do. They are responsible for other clients. I don’t have a lot in common with them. Sure, they do the same tasks that I do. But, it’s like saying you share experience with your neighbor since you have a car and he has a car. We have a manager. We have a Director. But, while I know the members of my team, and I’ve actually met several of them, I don’t have much of a connection with them.

So, it was frustrating to sit through team meetings. I typically schedule 30 minute meetings and try to end early. Our team meetings are scheduled for an hour. The first 15 to 20 minutes are unstructured. And by unstructured, I mean they don’t discuss work at all. Football, movie trivia, TV show plots.

And it was frustrating. It was a waste. But, could I say anything? Of course not. To criticize would tag me as the dreaded, “Not a team player.” I’m a team player, but I just want to pick the team.

Fortunately, our meetings aren’t done using video. And my mute button works well. We do eventually get to team related issues. And the meeting generally ends slightly early. But, it’s still frustrating.

Or, at least it was. I’m begining to have a change of heart. We’ve all been working from home since the onset of COVID. It’s been about six months. And as much as I enjoy teams and team building, I completely failed to understand virtual teams. Not virtual like my relationships with the various sites I help manage. But, virtual as in “everyone works from home.”

It’s impossible to gather together. We can’t all head to the bar after work, or get together for a picnic, or go bowling or Top Golf. Why do we do those activities? To build team cohesiveness. The idea is if you care about your coworkers interests, or hobbies.

How do you do that in a virtual setting? You do it by giving the team a chance to chat. Maybe it’s awkward. Maybe you have to schedule time for them to be spontaneous. Maybe you have to schedule a 60 minute meeting when you only have 20 minutes worth of content and let your team members talk about football, or movie trivia or TV plots.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

From → Team Building

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