45% of teams in the workplace are feeling less connected under Covid-19. If you’re like any leader out there, you’re trying everything to keep your teams engaged. Not an easy task when everyone’s remote.
One hot topic on every leaders mind is how to have engaging meetings. This is exactly what today’s podcast is about.
Episode Transcript – Should I turn on my camera?
Should I turn on my camera?
[00:00:00] Welcome to the All-in Manager podcast. You’re in the right place,. If you want to become a better boss today,
[00:00:12]45% of the teams or almost 1 out of ever 2 teams in the year 2020 is feeling less connected or less motivated, this year. If you’re like any leader out there, I bet you’re trying everything in your power to keep your teams engaged [00:00:30] and motivated and that is just not an easy task because everyone is working remotely.
[00:00:38] Now one hot topic on every leader’s mind is how to have engaging meetings and most leaders are trying to figure this out, but there’s no one size fits all when it comes to meeting management in a remote world. What I want to do today [00:01:00] is, specifically hone in a little bit on this existential question around cameras or no cameras in the workplace.
[00:01:12] And I get a version of a question like this almost on a weekly basis.
[00:01:17] Hey Ali, should I have my camera turned on for all my meetings? Or what about my employees?
[00:01:24] Should they have their cameras on for every single meeting?
[00:01:29] My [00:01:30] employee never has their camera on. Should I even bother bringing it up?
[00:01:37]Is there a best practice when it comes to cameras or no cameras during conference calls?
[00:01:45] Here’s the, the nutshell version – Folks, there is absolutely no best practice on turning on or turning off cameras.
[00:01:54] There are only guidelines. So what I want to do is, take a little step [00:02:00] back here and instead of asking whether your camera should be on or off, a better question might be, does turning on the camera, add any value to the conversation. That’s the question I want to ask. So let’s do this. let’s first define some of our regular conversations in the workplace. So there are three types of regular conversations that you, as the leader might be having.
[00:02:29] The [00:02:30] first one is your weekly. One-on-one.
[00:02:32] The second type of conversation is your team meeting.
[00:02:36] And the third type of conversation might be, a meeting that you have on a monthly basis when you’re updating your department, if you are running a department. So let’s start with the first one, which is your weekly. One-on-one . Here’s how I would do this as a leader off the team. I would encourage you to keep your camera on all the time. When I am running a one-on-one with [00:03:00] my direct report, I like to make sure that my direct report is able to see me on camera all the time.
[00:03:07] Now, I don’t like to mandate that my direct report be on camera all the time as well. What I do is I prefer that during these meetings, my direct reports are on at least 80% of the time. That’s the rule that I like. Here’s the [00:03:30] deal, having managed remotely for over six or seven years, I have found that employees either have a really, really good reason for not turning on their camera or they might not be turning on a camera because guess what? They just feel it’s not an expectation from their manager. Okay. So I’ve made this abundantly clear with my team, that folks I’m going to be on camera the entire time we [00:04:00] do a one-on-one . I would like for you guys to be on camera at least 80% of the time.
[00:04:04] I think it works really well, but let me throw a curve ball here. What if you have an employee on your team, that’s struggling? That makes it a little difficult. If my employee is struggling, chances are we’re not connecting really well. Chances are, we need to increase a little more clarity when it comes to our communication and what I would like to do [00:04:30] is encourage them to have their camera turned on most of the time. Now, what I also do is if their camera is turned off, I am never going to tell them in the middle of the meeting to turn on their camera. That is something that you should never do.
[00:04:47] I like to let people know in advance that, Hey, I think it will be great if both of us had our cameras turned on. I think giving your employees an advance notice [00:05:00] is super helpful because the advance notice builds a little safety in the process. , it tells them what to expect.
[00:05:08] And here’s another thing. It gives your employees a little more ownership, and it also allows them to plan better. my guideline here is pretty simple. I want to make sure. my team , is on camera at least 80% of the time. And if I have an employee that’s struggling, I want to make sure that , they are, are on camera almost all the time .
[00:05:30] [00:05:29] Here’s another question. to think about. Will having the camera turned on for a struggling employee, solve everything? The answer to that is no, it’s not going to solve everything. Um, but will it help us connect a little bit better?. The short answer to that is yes. And I want to give you an example here. So this happened almost three or four years back, I had an employee based out of our London [00:06:00] office and we were struggling a lot. We were not connecting, deadlines were being missed. I was trying to explain to her how I wanted her to do a couple of things and I just felt that she and I were on. two different planets, . and by the way, we’re connecting all the time, but we were connecting over the phone. I was unable to see her, she was unable to see me and I asked her. I said, listen, why don’t we change [00:06:30] the way we’re connecting? Why don’t we stop connecting over the phone? And why don’t we try. Google hangout. This was six, five or six years back. I don’t remember the timeline here. And we did that. We switched to Hangouts and folks, you know, what happened? The fact that I could see her and she could see me really helped us connect just a little bit more. I could see her nod. She could see me nod, or when she would get a little upset or a little irritated, I could [00:07:00] sense that I could see that. And honestly, that really helped us align a little bit. Better than we were aligning on the phone. So I, in that instance, when you’re working with a, an, an employee that’s struggling, or you’re having a hard time connecting with an employee, I just feel having cameras turned on is a fantastic [00:07:30] idea.
[00:07:32] What do you do if you’re onboarding a new employee? Onboarding a new employee in 2020 is really hard. Think about this onboarding a new employee before 2020 was really complicated. Onboarding a new employee, completely a hundred percent virtualy is very difficult and there’s a lot of confusion and there are a lot of moving parts. So my rule of thumb for a new employee is we are going to have our cameras [00:08:00] on all the time or rather most, if not all the time, I think that’s important, but what’s equally important is for you as their manager to let them know that, for the first couple of months, let’s try and make sure that our cameras are on so we can see each other. It’s going to help us connect a little bit better and you know, it’s hopefully going to not, eliminate all the confusion, but it’s going to help [00:08:30] reduce some of the confusion. So I want to make it really clear with a direct report, but the new direct report of mine that.
[00:08:40] Cameras are going to be really important. Here’s a little script that you can try, to request your new employee to turn on their camera. And I’ve done this so you can say,
[00:08:48] “Hi XYZ, you know, their name. I’ll make sure to keep my camera turned on for our one-on-ones. I’m hoping you can do the same for most of our one-on-ones. Please know, I’m not expecting you to [00:09:00] do this all the time. I’m hoping we can do this most of the time in the beginning, as we get to know each other and build a relationship, I’m always here. If you have any questions, right.
[00:09:12] All you’re doing is telling her the reason why you want her to turn on the camera.
[00:09:18] when it comes to onboarding a new employee, I think cameras are a great idea. here’s a big red warning sign for you. I don’t want you to ask your [00:09:30] teams to turn on their camera.
[00:09:31]If you are not willing to do it yourself, I just feel that’s a complete mess. And, and managers do that. Managers ask their teams do turn on cameras when they themselves are not willing to do that. I think that’s a recipe for a disaster. I would really encourage you to not. Do that. Okay. So we’ve spoken a lot about one-on-ones here.
[00:09:56] Let’s talk about team meetings. So when it comes to team meetings, , [00:10:00] virtual team meetings, obviously, and cameras, my guideline is, exactly the same. I’m on camera. A hundred percent of the time as the manager. And I’m going to ask you guys or ask my team rather to be on camera at least 80% of the time.
[00:10:14] Here’s what I’ve realized after managing for a number of years, you’re going to find most people will have their cameras turned on most of the time. Now, if you notice that one person keeps their camera turned off all the time, they never turn on their camera. [00:10:30] I think it’s worth. Asking them about it, but don’t ask them in the middle of the team meeting, don’t, berate them, publicly or privately.
[00:10:41] I, and again, the keyword here is get a little curious and ask them about it. Um, but here’s another thing I want you to think about. I want you to always assume positive intent. Chances are the employee has either forgotten. That they should be turning on their [00:11:00] camera or they just assume that you’re fine with them not turning on the camera because you have never brought it up with them.
[00:11:10] Right. So I think the fundamental point that I’m trying to make here is. Be very clear with your expectations. One people to turn on their cameras, or if you don’t want their one them to, turn on their cameras, letting people know, I want you to turn on your camera. 80% of the time is [00:11:30] great, or letting people know that I want you to turn on your camera for most of the time is great.
[00:11:34] Now, if someone is not turning on their camera at all. It may be time for you to have that conversation. Okay. Let’s talk about department meetings here or meetings with 20 plus people. Here’s the deal. If, you’re leading a department meeting and you’re presenting, I think you should have your camera turned on.
[00:11:55] I think it’s a great way to engage people, but I don’t think you should expect all 20 [00:12:00] people to have their cameras turned on as well. I just feel video meetings involving more than 15 people can create too much visual stimuli and that just ends up overwhelming and distracting everyone. I mean, imagine having 20 tiles where these 20 faces are constantly moving and you’re looking at yourself and you’re looking at 19 or 20 other people, I just feel [00:12:30] it can be a little bit tricky to have all 20 people have their camera turned on if people are presenting one by one, they could turn on their cameras, but I just feel, you just want to be a little prudent here and not have that expectation that everyone is going to have their cameras turned on.
[00:12:52] Let’s talk a little bit about expectation setting here. I’ve spoken a little bit about this, but I want to be [00:13:00] really clear. I find that a number of managers make the mistake of expecting an outcome without clearly communicating what they are expecting. And here’s the deal I’ve made this mistake plenty of times in my career.
[00:13:15] Let me give you an example. I remember being pretty annoyed with a direct report for never turning on their camera during our one-on-ones, he would never turn it on. And by the way I didn’t tell them anything. I just kept [00:13:30] hoping that they would one day miraculously turn on their camera and eventually I realized it wasn’t their fault.
[00:13:37] It was my fault. I had never asked them. I had never told them that. Hey, my understanding, rather, my expectation is that you are going to have your camera turned on at least 80% of the time. So there’s a lesson here: If you don’t communicate your expectation, you are going to enable their behavior, be it good [00:14:00] behavior, or be it bad behavior. I think it’s always a good idea to clarify your expectation so everyone is on the same page and then there’s little to no room for confusion.
[00:14:18] A number of leaders struggle with this idea that if they’re comfortable on camera, Everyone on their team should also be comfortable with fit, [00:14:30] turning on their camera or being on video. I think that’s a misguided assumption. Now there are examples of people who are unable to turn on their camera because some of them have a studio apartment. Some of them might be working from their bedrooms because it’s a small place, which is completely fine. You know, someone might have kids running around and they might not feel comfortable in you seeing their kids running around. I just feel there are a [00:15:00] lot of reasons for people not to turn on their camera and that’s why, if you are that type of manager that would like people to turn on their camera, you can let them know that, Hey, for our meeting at 4:00 PM next week, I would love to see everyone’s faces . So you’ve given them an opportunity. You’ve given them time to figure this out and by the way, it is completely okay. For them to say, you know what, boss? I can turn on my camera and that’s fine. That’s completely fine. [00:15:30] You can’t mandate people to turn on their cameras. Okay. Before I let you go. I want to recap this and I’m going to share some, some redos and some don’ts here.
[00:15:42] So when it comes to do’s, I want you to keep your camera on during all the meetings that you’re doing. I want you to request your team to keep their cameras on for at least 80% of the time. I think that’s important. I want you to request new employees to turn on video most of the time, where possible.
[00:16:00] [00:16:00] And I also want you to communicate your camera expectations clearly. And if possible in advance now, what do I not want you to do? I don’t want you to mandate people or berate people during a call. if their video’s turned off. I don’t want you to ask your teams to turn on their camera if you are unwilling to do it yourself . We spoke about that. And if someone has their camera turned on, please don’t make fun of their background . I know it’s a given, but some managers feel that they’re just [00:16:30] joshing around.
[00:16:30] I think that’s offensive as something you’d want to stay away from. And lastly, I don’t want you to assume, you know, why someone is not turning on their camera. There’s a lot that you don’t know about your direct reports, just how there is a lot that your direct reports don’t know about. You. if you like this podcast, please make sure to hit subscribe on iTunes.
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