Successfully Leading Virtual Teams
In traditional workplace relationships where colleagues are in the same place, trust develops as people get to know each other. In virtual relationships the personal discussions are often much less frequent and not as in-depth. As a result, trust in virtual relationships is often the result of task reliability.
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As a leader of a virtual team it is critical that you demonstrate reliability as much as possible, as that will help you build trust and credibility with your team members. Reliability is directly related to actions and consistency. It is about walking the talk and doing what you said you will do. The final key action for virtual leaders is to ensure the highest performance for individuals and the team overall. Virtual team leaders need to make sure that team members have everything that they need to maximize their productivity and get their work done.
Leading Virtual Teams – Keys to Success
Will not be published. Some of the top challenges faced by leaders of virtual teams include: Ensuring that employees feel connected to the organization. Three Key Actions Ensuring that employees feel connected to the organization The first key action for virtual leaders is to make sure that team members are fully engaged. Building trusting relationships The second key action for leaders of virtual teams is building trust in a virtual way.
Why is each person essential to the team? In successful teams , each person can answer these questions without any ambiguity. If you are actively moving a top priority project forward, you might need short, frequent meetings to stay on track. If you are a team that manages long-term initiatives, perhaps meeting for a longer period once or twice a month is relevant. Assess your meeting structure at least once a year and revise it to meet the current needs. Have clear baseline expectations about being on time, absences, multi-tasking, and meeting follow-up.
Be very clear with the team about these items.
3 Proven Strategies for Leading Virtual Teams
Is your norm that the start time is when people call-in, but are still getting coffee, running to the bathroom, and wrapping up the email from their last meeting? Or is the start time when everyone is ready to go? If someone is absent, how do they communicate and get caught up? Are decisions made if people are not present? Is multi-tasking expected or does everyone need their attention on the conversation?
What happens after the meeting? Are notes sent out?
There is not one right answer. You and your team need to create the baseline understanding of what works for you. Do not make it overly complex. Design these expectations so they work for you. As the leader, you must also role model these expectations with an extraordinarily high level of integrity. Set and communicate boundaries. In different time zones, the work days do not always align. When can people take a break from responding to emails?
Are there any days or times that everyone is expected to be offline to promote balance and wellbeing? One pitfall is to feel like you need to use the latest-and-greatest technology all the time.
Tata Consultancy Services are de-emphasising email. Instead, they use internal blogs and social networks to share updates and provide an opportunity for V-team members to discuss the content.
Leading Virtual Teams – Keys to Success | Global Knowledge Blog
There is a new breed of online platforms that bundle together multiple kinds of collaboration tools for use by V-teams. Of these, Slack is currently the most prominent. Provide more structure, not less: Leaders need to be more structured and proactive than they would when managing face-to-face teams. Ways to form effective performance habits include: Slow down to speed up: Language and cultural differences can create misunderstandings and communication difficulties for virtual teams.
This can be addressed by ensuring that teams take time to get to know each other and set group norms during the formation or project kick off stage e.
Australian interview , March 2015
The use of paraphrasing can help listeners check their understanding of what is being said or not said. Develop a role charter: Lack of accountability can be an issue for virtual teams, particularly when working cross-functionally. Leaders need to be vigilant about defining and communicating roles in virtual teams to prevent diffusion of responsibility. In addition to this, both team leaders and team members particularly new members are recommended to get to know the strengths and capabilities of their virtual team mates.
Trust is the essential ingredient for leadership success.
Relationships take extra time, effort, and money to build: Virtual teams often spend too little time engaging in the types of social conversations that happen naturally when teams are face-to-face. This can hinder the development of strong team relationships. Simple acts like sending a birthday card, personalising conversations, and recognising contributions can help increase visibility of individuals and build team cohesion. Regular video calls, particularly when done over meals, can also facilitate relationships. However, while virtual team meals can be effective, several interviewees maintained that the most effective way to build relationships and trust is through face-to-face interactions.
A virtual team that maintains at least two team members at each of its virtual locations provides beneficial social contact to the entire team. The research also found that encouraging team members not to mute calls fostered a more natural flow of conversation. Unmuting calls also allows for jokes and shared laughter which fosters team morale and cohesion. The authors pointed out that some background noise e. Use video technology whenever possible: Related to the above, was the concern of many interviewees that members who dial in on conference calls are not paying attention or do not feel comfortable to share their views.
This helps to ensure that team members do not feel out of the loop, which can cause feelings of mistrust.
Limit boundary permeability and buffer your team: Whilst team members can be added more easily to virtual teams, than to conventional teams, a leader needs to strictly regulate this. New members must be socialised into a team to ensure that team cohesion and trust is maintained.