Whether you are a CEO, a division or department head, a project team leader, or a member of one or more teams, I can be quite confident that you are involved in one way or another in a virtual team. A high-performing virtual team can greatly reinforce their effectiveness by putting in place 3 practices that support relationships, inspiration and extraordinary results. These do not replace some of the foundations necessary for team effectiveness, virtual or not.
Practice #1: Frequency – Keep it up
When working with teams who are creating or revisiting their governance structure, we often address the question of frequency of meetings or calls. There are always some members of the team who push for a reduction of the number and frequency of calls, for valid reasons. They reference all the times they experienced being in a meeting or on a call and felt they had wasted their time. When you look deeper, this often comes from meetings or calls losing sight of their initial intention and failing to regenerate it each time, which does not create a sense of purpose and commitment for what needs to be accomplished. Working virtually is a challenge in any organization and the experience of working with virtual high-performing teams supports the idea that short (one-hour max) and frequent (weekly) meetings are often an effective structure of frequency.
Practice #2 Technology: – Make it visual
Once you have experienced virtual meetings where you actually connect visually with other team members, it is very difficult to go back to being only a voice on the other side of a black spider in the middle of the conference room table! Gone are the days when you needed to book the only “video conferencing” room of the building, sometimes being “kicked-out” by a more urgent (or senior!) meeting, as I experienced with a client a few years back. With today’s diversity in technology tools on computers and phones, there is no need for expensive equipment or very tech-savvy participants to join in a meeting with video capabilities; all participants note the increased feeling of being connected.
Practice #3: Content – Inspiration first
High-performing virtual teams are driven to produce results, sometimes forgetting that the foundation of the relationship between team members is a critical component of performance. As with the construction of a building, as it becomes taller, and wider, stronger, deeper foundations are needed; human performance operates in the same way.
When you plan the intended outcomes of your virtual meeting, do you include a commitment to reinforce the connection between team members and the solidarity of the team? Do you include time to share about the contributions that the team’s work makes to its clients and other stakeholders? Do you allow yourself and the team some time to dream? Do you allow time for recognition and acknowledgment? Or do you only address actions and results? Shaping the conversations in such a way that they include inspiration and relationships is the role of all team leaders.