How Professional Should I Look on a Zoom Call?
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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We have a great team in our advisory firm here in the northeast. We work well together, have a lot of respect for one another, have defined roles and responsibilities and truly love our clients.
Lately I’ve noticed, in our virtual team meetings, a number of our engaged team members are not participating.
I reached out to a couple to make sure they are doing okay – we’ve had bouts of COVID run through a couple of team members’ families, so we are attuned to this. In both cases, the feedback was that team members are feeling tired of being virtual, of worrying about illness, of being asked to come on screen. They don’t have the normal energy or enthusiasm. I respect this because I often feel like this throughout the week, even weekends no longer charge my batteries the way they used to. While I respect it, it worries me. It diminishes the strength of who we are and how we have been successful operating together.
I know I can’t fix the things that I can’t control, but what can I or others on the team do?
These are challenging times for many firms and teams. I’ve been impressed with how most advisory firms are working through the issues. But you point out that there are many aspects that remain out of even the best team’s control. All you can do it identify these areas and do your best to find ways to work through them.
Just this past week I held a virtual event for a long-time client on wellness. Shortly after the event finished, the leaders reached out to ask if I would do the event again for their family members. They recognized that the impact of what we are all dealing with is far reaching and many people are struggling to maintain a good attitude and stay engaged and enthused. Because this is such an important topic, I’ll share what I covered with this team that might be ideas you could share widely with your own group to help them re-energize and become more enthusiastic again:
- Wellness or being in a state of wellbeing covers many different areas – mental, emotional, spiritual, health, relationships/social, financial and work-related as just a few. Start by asking your team members to consider – each for themselves – what area is most difficult for them. They don’t have to share this with you or with the rest of the team, but they should consider on their own where they might need to focus.
- Take small steps toward being stronger and more well. For example, drink water as you work throughout the day, stand up and stretch if you are physically capable of doing so several times throughout the day, stand up every time you are on the phone or even on a Zoom call if your position is good, spend a bit of time each day doing something you enjoy besides work – make a phone call to a friend, read an article or section of a book, knit, do a crossword etc. The point is to start adding in smaller, easy things you can do to enrich your day and allow your mind and body to separate from the work.
- View your relationships through a positive lens. It can be easy to find fault with one another so consider doing a virtual appreciation event. Take some time to acknowledge how the team overall is doing, and something about each individual and their contribution to the team. Consider having a “Thank you” event at the end of each week where each team member writes an email to another team members thanking them for something they did that week.
- Provide ideas for health and physical activities each team member can do. There are loads of great resources and this article captures a few good ideas. Again, not everyone will be capable of doing all of these so encourage people to find something that is good for them. In addition, if you have people who enjoy cooking and have great recipes or ideas for healthy snacking, consider having them share these with the rest of the team in the interest of talking about health.
- Allow for downtime. Some of the teams I have worked with lately have been requiring their team members to get online and on screen every day to meet together. This can be exhausting so consider whether it is necessary. It’s great to “see” each other and work together but it isn’t the same energy as doing it in person. Most teams do this to simulate the idea that in the office, people could get together every day. It isn’t the same online so consider either changing out some screen time for phone, or not doing the meetings as much or allowing people to come dressed casually and less prepared.
These are just some of the easier ideas you could share with your group. Understanding what they are dealing with and being willing to address it is the first important step. Offering ideas for solutions and getting your team members to talk about what could work will be the next step you can take.
How do I share with team members that a level of professionalism is still expected even on camera? One of my senior advisors came yesterday unshaven and with his t-shirt that looked like he rolled out of bed on for the camera. We had no clients, it was only the nine of us internally, but it sent the message, “Who cares anymore?” I care a lot.
As I wrote in my first response above, these are challenging times. I respect your view and I do think upholding a level of professionalism is very important – different firms have different cultures and this might be very important to your firm.
However, as I shared for the first writer’s question, it could also be a time for letting down the guard just a bit when you can. You wouldn’t want to send a message that isn’t the utmost in professionalism to your clients but could you, with team members, allow there to be a super-casual day on camera? When my kids were little, the schools would have “pajama day,” even though they had strict dress guidelines at all other times. There was such excitement for the child of not having to get dressed up on that one day. Could you talk with your team members about doing something like this?
If your culture always requires dress-up, then by all means talk with your colleague about how he showed up for the meeting. But consider whether this event helps you to open the door for a broader discussion about allowing team members to let their guard down from time to time in the right forum and with the right group of people.
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. The firm also founded and manages the Advisors Sales Academy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate and graduate students Entrepreneurship and Leading Teams. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.