Ask an Advisor - Connecting with Virtual Staff Through Touchpoints

 

The last two years have been challenging as many businesses were forced to embrace a virtual workforce along with virtual meetings, policies and technology. However, the importance of effectively leading a virtual staff with regular and meaningful touchpoints should not be ignored. Touchpoints are regular meetings or periodic check-ins with staff—easily achieved via phone, internal communication platforms, videoconferencing or e-mail—that typically occur between a manager and a direct report.

The purpose of touchpoints is to provide and receive ongoing feedback related to company, departmental, team and individual goals, including expectations and necessary improvements. It’s also an opportunity to assess how leaders can best support staff. Regular leadership engagement with staff is essential to the success of an organization as employees are more likely to feel valued and heard. Staff meetings— onsite, in-person and virtually—foster employee engagement and collaboration, which are critical aspects of a successful company.

Today, employees are balancing home, work and personal obligations. Touchpoints may help determine where management or external support may be useful to a team member when performing a balancing act. As an HR Knowledge Advisor, I recently had a call from a member whose manager discovered that a work schedule adjustment would better help an employee balance home and work obligations after completing a touchpoint via videoconferencing.

In my personal career, my commute time to work and home was exhausting. During a touchpoint meeting, my manager offered me a later start time, which reduced my overall commute time by almost 25 percent. I didn’t know changing my hours was an option available to me until our meeting. This seemingly small 30-minute change was a major stress reliever that translated to greater job satisfaction.

Having said that, leaders are encouraged to schedule the following regular touchpoint meetings with staff:

  • Monthly or weekly team meetings are recommended to engage and discuss team goals, contributions and accomplishments. These meetings generally focus on group contributions versus individual contributions. An agenda is encouraged and follow-up actions will need to be managed.
  • One-on-one meetings with individual contributors are more personal and focus on member contributions. One-on-ones can allow deeper discussion on work/life balance and performance or career goals. Meetings may be less frequent but should occur at least quarterly. An agenda is not required, and a relaxed format allows for more open discussions concerning individual goals, expectations and feedback.

With both meeting styles, effective leaders will want to keep detailed notes and schedule follow-up when necessary, make changes, administer corrective measures or offer appropriate support as needed. This may include collaborating with other teams, providing individual training or offering supportive measures with the HR Department.

If you want to know more about effective communication, or have other HR questions, we’d love to help! Give us a call or send an e-mail. We’re also available by chat. It’s one of the most valued benefits of SHRM membership!

SHRM’s Ask an Advisor service is a member benefit through which SHRM’s HR Knowledge Advisors share guidance, real-life personal and professional experiences, and resources to assist members with their HR-related inquiries.

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