As we get more into the routines of the year, spending time with your virtual and remote team to create shared expectations and ways of working can go a long way. It might take time to create at the start, but it’s these shared agreements which help teams, particularly virtual and remote teams, create alignment, and support the interdependent work which is a reality in the virtual space.
This year as you get back to the work routine, you will want to explore some, or perhaps all, of these five areas with the entire team:
Once goals are clear, what will results look like. Is everyone clear on what a successful result or output looks like. A quick reminder that Week 1 of the 52 Weeks of Planning, Doing and Tracking – which I host here on Fridays – covered the topic of Vision. You may want to share that with your team
2. Consistency (in reporting, in outreach) – Another key issue which defines virtual and remote teams is consistency. Even if we are not customer-facing, it’s important that we are consistent in the way we do things. This includes –– communication, quality of work, outreach, response etc.Getting clear about our team norms around communication, customer service and many other areas are critical.
One of the reasons why team identity and team culture is so important is is because in the virtual team context, s creating alignment is core. Also, helping make the implicit explicit, will help to avoid problems down the road.
For example, think of the situation where two team members are literally 12 hours apart. One member of the team is in Toronto, one in Hong Kong. As the team member in Hong Kong logs off for the night, the one in Toronto is coming on stream.
As a virtual team we want to make sure that we
3. Roles – What are the different roles on the team. Is everyone clear of the other teams they are a part of? Once again, given that many remote workers report to multiple teams, having a strong team culture is critical. I like to define team culture as “HOW WE DO THINGS HERE….”. That helps us clarify what we need to do
4. Relationships - Skills in virtual relationship building, negotiation and coaching are all critical for team success in 2019. What are you doing to help team members get to know each other, their skills, strengths and contributions?
5. Meetings - One area that team leaders may want to minimize or let go of completely is team meetings. If anything, virtual team meetings are more important than ever, AS LONG AS they are efficient. Helping the team through formal meetings, and informal peer mentoring, get to know each other and understand each other’s work, skills and contributions helps a team accelerate their results.
And finally, helping the remote team surface difficult and tricky issues. This is especially important as each team member may be your “boots on the ground”. They may be seen as “THE ORGANIZATION”, bringing an important insight about how the work is viewed and what is needed. Making sure people have the ability to raise issues which may not be popular is important. This is often further complicated by complex power dynamics and cross-cultural issues.
What else is important for you to note as a virtual and remote team?
Enjoy the start to your week,
Jennifer Britton, MES, PCC, CPT
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Jennifer Britton is the blogger behind the popular Teams365 blog, a daily,blog for team leaders and members since 2014. Her latest publication is the PlanDoTrack Workbook and Planner. Pick up a copy at Amazon.
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