Often, people who work on virtual teams are surprised when expectations don’t match reality. Maybe they miss having someone to go to coffee with, or perhaps they take a telecommuting job for the flexibility only to realize that communication with their colleagues is harder than it used be.
Either way, they’re in for a steep learning curve, which can be even steeper when virtual workers aren’t aware of the challenges they’re about to face.
One Virtual Team Builders client described her team’s experience like this:
“They had started working virtually, but never really articulated the skills required to do so effectively. They just sort of assumed that people would start doing it, but all they had done was adopt inefficient technologies and implement them in inefficient ways. And nobody really knew what was going on.”
The result? A pervading sense that they simply weren’t working effectively as a team, and consistently lower than expected results.
Simply put, the virtual work environment is vastly different from the traditional workplace. Without proper training and knowledge of how to navigate the virtual environment, the lack of face-to-face communication and the excessive reliance on technology can seem overwhelming.
Building a Better Virtual Team
In the Virtual Team Builders book Follow My Voice, you’ll follow the story of Robbie Redman (aka i-Robbie), a traditional manager who faces a steep learning curve when he is put in charge of managing a virtual team. This entertaining take on workplace communication follows i-Robbie as he learns the ins and outs of navigating and succeeding in the virtual environment.
Back in real life, the VTB client found that much like i-Robbie, awareness was key to success. In one case, it was awareness of the full range of communications tools provided by their web conferencing platform:
“I’ve seen people who use WebEx but actively disable all but the bare minimum features. You can’t even use your webcam, the white board or annotation tools. All of these wonderful tools to connect with each other, encourage participation and engagement, and people don’t even bother to explore them. But when they do use them, the results are night and day – and instantaneous.”
So, is it possible to build a high-performing virtual team? Can you make a so-so team into a great team? And, can your talent bridge the “virtual” gap?
Yes, yes and yes!
Explore i-Robbie to get your virtual team on the right track, and explore VTB resources such as mentoring for virtual managers or team assessments to gain important insights into your virtual team. i-Robbie has his very own comic book coming out on April 1st – sign up for the VTB newsletter to stay up to date!