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Connecting the Team with Humour By Mark Holton on Apr 8, 2022


Videoconferencing or virtual solutions like Webex, Go to Meeting and Zoom and more recently Teams have been around for many years. Until COVID-19, though, you would find that many if not most people needing to attend a meeting remotely would be calling from a conference room full of their teammates. Today, we are often holding videoconferences that are totally virtual and many of them at home.

The problem is how much isolation we can bear. In reality, much of our well-being, and by extension what makes us productive, is predicated on physical proximity. The removal of that proximity for any period of time can be a challenge for team members and the culture the firm wishes to build or maintain.

One issue here is humour or maybe a lack of it. Research has shown that people laugh about 18 times per day and 97% of that time we’re laughing with others. Further, we are 30 times more likely to laugh with others than to laugh alone. Laughter is also associated with higher motivation and productivity at work. Think about it – do you interact, laugh, and use humour constructively as much in a virtual meeting compared to a face-to-face session?

So, what can you do as a team leader to better manage these issues? Here are a few simple suggestions you may consider:

  • Slow down. Some leaders feel that they need to make every virtual interaction as fast and efficient as possible. In these times of isolation, an important part of a leader’s job is to socially and emotionally connect and reconnect the team and not just get work done.
  • Get the video working. Team members are amazingly good at reading both visual and auditory clues and cues. The more channels you can give them to give and read cues the better. Don’t put up with the age-old excuse – “my camera is not working”.
  • Set an example and smile a lot. Team members naturally look to the leader of a meeting for signals as to what is ok in terms of behaviour and the use of humour. The simplest and strongest facial signal that laughter is okay is a genuine smile.

As we move out of the critical stages of COVID-19, it is very likely that more people will prefer to work more often from home and maybe less often in the office. Perhaps a hybrid working model will become more popular. This means the humour issue is here to stay and leaders are going to have to get good at making laughter strategically happen with their teams.

Mark is an expert in helping accounting firms optimise practice management. If you would like to set up a complimentary 45-minute practice management assessment, please contact us.


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