We miss the feeling that you get when you enter your work space, that feeling of entering “our zone”; we miss the walks for coffee; sharing and hearing the stories of our colleagues lives; the steps counted on our Fitbits; and many, many other things – not in the least – internet that doesn’t rely on shared wifi.
But what I miss the most, is what I like to call, “collision conversations”.
Collision conversations are those quick, unplanned convos in the hallway, or in the elevator, or at the beginning of a meeting, that give you that little bit of insight or allow you to pass on information informally.
It’s the “oh, by the way…”, “have you heard…”, “I meant to call/email you…” convos that keep us connected to the pulse of the organization.
It’s the ideas that come alive through the unexpected collaboration when you are in a meeting, hear something and say, “hey, we should talk about this”.
It’s how departments and working groups come together on ideas that might not naturally, or individually come to life.
Those. All of those.
And I’ve come to understand how important collision conversations are to our well being, productivity, sense of belonging, and relationships in general.
Our new work from home regime has caused us to be extremely intentional about meetings, conversations and strategies. Too often over the past few months, I have been in an on-line meeting and heard about an operation that is going on that I had no idea about, that I know that if I was at the office, I would have been involved in, or had insight into.
People are trying to deliver at a rapid rate – and the intentional effort that it takes to connect, can be exhausting. Running into someone is hard to replicate in this environment.
It is also harder to keep a pulse on how our staff/teams are feeling – you do not have the same opportunity to read the body language, measure engagement, or just run into someone during the day to casually check in on them.
For those of us who lead teams, it is our responsibility to ensure our teams have the tools they need to do their jobs. Communication is a key tool, and the responsibility is on us to ensure our teams do collide - that they communicate, collaborate, connect and especially now, innovate.
We must ensure that they have the knowledge and the know-how to make things happen. We also need to provide opportunities for them to come together outside of formal meetings in an intentional way… but where are the virtual hallways, virtual water coolers, and virtual coffee line-ups?
In a remote working world, this is difficult – Zoom meetings don’t have easy flowing small talk at the beginning, or a hallway, or an elevator.
Instead, we need to intentionally create spaces for informal collisions, topics, and cross functional conversations. We need to ensure the people in our organizations can learn from each other - through blogs/vlogs, newsletter, videos, informal meeting places - and then support the dialogue.
It’s finding ways to have the small talk – creating different multi-modal spaces, not just one, not just once – but an intentional effort to create collisions. It’s the happenstance of the collisions, that natural relationships that are built and fostered.
Careers are built on these collision conversations - innovations made, ideas stormed, collaborations developed – even businesses are founded out of these unintentional bump-ins!
While it may take time before we can have regular, unintentional, professional collision conversations; facilitating ways to collide in this “new/now/next normal” is vital. As leaders, it takes a lot of effort and intentional thought – but it is more important than ever to keep our teams engaged, feeling they are important, heard, and able to contribute.
What ways are you finding to create collision conversations amongst your teams or colleagues? What have you found is working for your organization?
Cara Krezek is the Director of Co-op, Career & Experiential Education at Brock University and the President of CEWIL (Co-op Education & Work Integrated Learning) Canada.
Cara’s passion for leadership and for the careers of her staff and Brock’s students are at the forefront of what she does every day. She feels privileged to lead a team of outstanding professionals who help students find their passions, learn about their skills and gain experience in their fields of study.
Sign up to become an Inspired insider!