With just about everything going on-line, partially or totally, we need to move away from thinking in terms of using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet etc for everything we do online and ask ourselves the question "What do we want want to achieve?" ........... before Covid, all managers were focused on desired outcomes, goals and objectives. Now it seems that all that matters is numbers and not the "WHY" of the numbers.
Printscreen curtosy of Thesarus.com
We as managers seem to have lost the ability to define our desired outcomes. As a result we have lost the ability to remotely communicate our desired outcomes to our teams. This had lead to teams working in a disorderly manner, working longer hours per day and complaining of exhaustion caused by working from home.
Without the ability to communicate goals to our teams, we turn meetings into tasks, that become meetings where we tell our staff what to do as opposed to what they need to achieve. That is not the role of a manger. A manager's role is to manage a team and not to administer a team (unless you are a line manager, overseeing a predefined process from point A to point B in a predetermined manner based on a set of rules - but then again, line managers are working on production lines and not from home)
If we fail to define and communicate our desired outcome, when choosing the right online platform for a specific job, we often end up with the aforementioned issues such as stress, disapproval of managers and fatigue.
In most cases, I have observed that te culprit is "trying to move meetings and events directly from what know and we are used to doing, online" - literally attempting to replicate them online. The online tools we use are however imperfect. Online applications don't know about real-life meetings or events. Our comprehension of online platforms is limited to our exposure to them. Our exposure is limited by the fact that we are confined to using the platforms we have at our disposal.
Marketers of Online Platforms have done a poor job on providing us with the education we need to understand how to take decisions.
Online event platforms are sold by developers and not sales consultants
Online Platform suppliers are focused on selling their platforms to early investors or generating funding.
Video conferencing platforms are busy competing on functionality that they have forgotten about Customer needs
Video conferencing systems such as parts of Microsoft Teams, Google Meets and Webex are constantly upgrading user functionality to catch up with ZOOM.
So what platform should you use and when?
As managers, we are often limited in our choice of online tools, forced to use the applications made available by the IT Department. As a result, when working from home, many of us move to private computers to get access to the tools we need. Some of us use browser based platforms to get around the corporate firewall restrictions, that are designed to enforce security of data in our corporate networks.
So where do we go for advice?
For general communication within a team
- Get back to basics. For simple and immediate communications requirements, use your phone. Don't waste your own time as well as other people's time organising a "call on Teams or ZOOM" when a simple phone call can do the job
- Plan your meetings as you would a meeting face - to -face with ample time for the participants to share their own points of view. Close down conversations that are off-topic
- Respect peoples time in the same way as if there
were in the office and that there are other people waiting to use the conference room. Working from home doesn't mean that other members of your staff or team are sitting around doing nothing just waiting to take a call from you
- Define goals and objectives for your staff. Don't micromanage at the task level, unless the situation such requires - which they usually don't!
For events such as webinars , training or Town Halls
- Speak to an expert. There are many companies that specialise in online events. Call them and talk with them. Conversations with an expert will at the least put heading in the right direction
- Ask your HR dept to organise training for you
- Don't assume that just because you have hosted a meeting that you can organise, run and speak in a meeting at the same time, especially when you have over 25 participants, interpretation or other additional functions required
- Streaming is a viable option for events organised for large groups. Most business platforms will allow you to stream a meeting to professional platforms like Vimeo or public platforms like Youtube or fb
Meetings with more than one person in one location
From an organizational point of view, these are the most challenging meetings to set up as they require onsite support as well as remote support.
- Speak with an online event company to find out what is required. These events usually go wrong if they are not defined, planned, configured and tested prior to the event.
- Understand what the expectations of the participants are. Do they want to share documents? Do they require to see everything on one screen? Will there be more than one speaker at each location? Is interpreting required? All these variables need to be understood well in order to provide the right service.
- Speak with Interpreters that you usually work with. Interpreters have a lot of exposure to multiple platforms and can share valuable opinions of their own experience with you.
When a meeting becomes a public event
Online public conferences and fairs are the most challenging in getting the right cost to revenue ratio as well as understanding the time required for the participants (attendees, speakers, sponsors, organisers) to get everything synchronized at a reasonable price. They nearly always need a Project Manager to ensure that all the players understand the time and scope restrictions.
- Online Event Organizers - have the best knowledge and are really good when it comes to small events (up to 1000 participants) that are very industry focused, for members' Organizations or for an organization's staff only. Online Event Organizers often lack the expertise and experience of bringing together the marketing, networking and Project Managements functions which are standard for traditional event Organizers, inspite of having the tools to do so.
- Event Organizers - have the knowledge and experience to put together large events. They now work with online event providers and good for large events that require planning and coordination. The challenge with them is that they often have little or no knowledge about the platforms that they work with.
- When thinking "online", don't forget the basic principles - first answer the question "what is the desired outcome I am looking for?"
- Don't fall into the trap of moving EVERYTHING on line. Phone calls are still efficient ways to communicate with other people
- Speak to people who are in the business of providing services. They understand what online events require to be successful
- Avoid the limitations of in-house solutions or IT departments limiting usability for guests, speakers and organizers
- Talk with the Interpreters you work with. Interpreters have immense exposure to most online platforms and provide valuable opinions on where to go and what works
Online Interpreters Worldwide provide online interpreting throughout the world bringing together the needs of Organizers, Participants, Interpreters and technology.