Your people have been home from work for four weeks or more by now. It is more critical than ever to be sensitive to how our team members feel and what they are going through. They are isolated at home, nervous about health, safety, and economics. Listening is one of the biggest leadership skills you can express, and now is the time to use it.

If you would like to view my video about emotional check-ins, click here.

Creating a five to ten minute opportunity at the beginning of your meeting to allow people to get to know each other, share, build trust, and build a positive, topic oriented atmosphere will not only help your meeting, but impact your overall culture. Failing to pay attention to your employees need to connect and express themselves will result in lower motivation, lower commitment, and lower productivity. When things get back to normal, people will remember how you made space for them to express themselves, to you and the team. As my mentor John Maxwell says, “A leader is great not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others.”

Here are 5 ideas to check in on the mental health of your team, using an initial ice breaker:

  1. The one word check-in. Go around the group and ask for one word that describes how each person is feeling. If the group is very large, have participants put their word in the chat box. Use this same check-in again at check-out.
  2. Create a graph or word cloud in or by using the poll function in Zoom. Ask a question that is pressing, like, “what worries you about work?” Or “How are close quarters going with your family?”
  3. Sharing with stories. Have team members tell a story about something they are proud of from the last few weeks of working remotely.
  4. Picture prompts. Create a slide with half a dozen random pictures and have everyone pick which picture describes their mood and why. Create your slide with pictures of a mountain, an iceberg, a forest, a city skyline, a playground, and a horse pasture. Show the slide, then go around the group, have them pick then share.
  5. Share a mood Emoji. Use the react button in zoom or have them post an emoji on their screens and share.

I believe it is essential to acknowledge how your team is feeling in these difficult times. Start your virtual meetings with some sort of ice breaker to allow people to share. If you have spent time and focus building a culture of cohesion and positive engagement, don’t let this crisis completely undo your efforts.

If you would like to have more support around virtual meeting skills and facilitation techniques, I would love to chat. Connect with me at to explore how I can help you and your team.

Stay safe and well and know we are still connected!

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