In my last two posts I’ve written about virtual team work in the time of COVID – Turning you and your team right side up again (parts one and two) which is based on a recent Learning and Development Roundtable I held.
As we’re scrambling to make it up the steep learning curve when it comes to working virtually, let alone with virtual teams, I invite you to take a rest. Sit back and relax, for here is a roadmap for you.
It’s a detour from the hard scrabble, a way to address six critical issues when working with virtual teams. Here are the six guideposts along the way:
- Cons and red flags
- The 7 C’s
- Twelve Virtual Team Tips
I explained the first five: goals, pros, cons and red flags, the M.A.P. tool and the 7 C’s in the last two posts. . Now it’s time for the last guidepost, which is virtual team tips.
Twelve Tips for Working with Your Virtual Team
Nature abhors a vacuum and never is that more apparent than with virtual teams. If we’re not proactive about creating healthy virtual teams then things will fall back and default to something that’s not great.
Here are twelve tips to help you create great virtual teams.
1. Discuss HOW your team members like to work
We tend to focus on the outputs and not so much on the process or how we work. How we work is the best springboard to getting great results. An ineffective process conversely is the best way to create a backlog and impass to effective results. Therefore encourage discussions with your virtual team about HOW they like to work, including hours of the day, what’s going on at home that needs juggling (eg childcare), technology needs, what time of the day it’s okay to send emails etc.
2. Be a leader
Actively be a leader and encourage other people to take leadership roles. This helps with motivation with accountability because we tend to take more responsibility and care more about the things we’re in charge of.
3. Encourage online interaction and plenty of it
Guess what the rate of multitasking while online is. Would you believe 92% of us multi-task while online?! (Source: TechChange). Aim for some type of interaction every 5-10 minutes. This doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be hard. For example when you share your screen, asking “can you see my screen okay?” counts as interaction.
4. Get personal people
People respond better online when there is a level of informality. Address people by name, use contractions (you’re instead of you are), and make time to touch base and check in. (Source: TechChange)
5. Set boundaries
Sometimes the level of increased informality can disrupt boundaries. Be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable.
6. Have resources on hand to help with mental health
Mental health issues are exacerbated with the isolation and stress we’re all under. Have resources on hand to help folks if they need it. Be open to new ways of dealing with mental health, including apps like Woebot, which uses artificial intelligence to ‘counsel.’
7. Smaller teams
Harvard Business Review recommends working in smaller teams when possible, ideally a maximum of 10.
8. Clearly defined roles
Clearly defined roles go a lonnnnng way to preventing conflict, confusion and mayhem.
9. Tech needs and resources
Make sure people have time and space to learn new tech tools.
10. Set ground rules
Related to boundaries, make sure ground rules are in place. For example is it okay to email someone (or text) at 10pm? For some of my clients, this is the best time (after kids have gone to bed) and for some it feels like work never ends. These are important conversations to have.
11. Build rapport and trust
Rapport and trust begets better work, more collaboration, and a healthier team who is more able to dig into difference and diversity..
It’s easy to focus only on work during times of stress but we’re humans not machines, so make sure to make time to celebrate the small (and big) wins.
How did you do with the six critical issues working with virtual teams? Where are you and your team shining and where do you need some support with the six goalposts?
- Cons and red flags
- The 7 C’s
- Virtual team tips
Let me know where your strengths lie and where you’re struggling. I’d love to hear.
Remember nature abhors a vacuum. Be proactive and get going with creating fabulous virtual teams.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Oxfam’s Building Trust in Diverse Teams: The toolkit for emergency response; download for free here
- Check out Harvard Business Review Leading Virtual Teams, 20 minute manager and Harvard Business Review Running Virtual Meetings, 20 minute manager
- Find some humor in social distancing with Jimmy Fallon and Sting singing “Don’t stand so close to me” with some very unusual instruments
- Plan a celebration with your team (here is a wish for every month if you need some inspiration)
P.S. Want to receive invitations to my monthly, free, online Learning and Development Roundtable like the one this post was based on, Virtual team work in the time of COVID – Turning you and your team right side up again? Easy peasy. Sign up here.
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