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The Seven Deadly Sins of Virtual Teams

7sinsheader 600x242 - The Seven Deadly Sins of Virtual Teams

Is your virtual team falling victim to these most common pitfalls?

Many people assume virtual teamwork is simple – you do the same work you always do, only at a distance, right?

In fact, fully 50% of virtual teams fail to meet their objectives, with some studies pegging the number as high as 82%. That’s pretty scary when you consider that 89% of employees report working virtually at least some of the time.

So, how do you create a virtual team that beats the odds and becomes a success story, delivering on the promise of cost savings, high morale, and sustainable productivity?

It all starts with knowing (and avoiding) the Seven Deadly Sins of Virtual Teams.

If you think your team has fallen victim to any of these common pitfalls, you’ll want to focus on doing something about it since these deadly sins don’t usually get better on their own.

Virtual Sin #1: Us vs. Them

Few things are worse for team morale than hosting meetings in which some of your team members call in remotely and others attend in person. This setup can cause an us-vs-them mentality where remote staff feel disconnected and disengaged from the face-to-face attendees, withholding valuable input and feeling less ownership over meeting outcomes.

This ultimately leads to half-successful meetings at best, frustrated leaders who wonder what is going on with their team, and a siloed workforce that wastes time and energy on miscommunication and duplicated effort.

Virtual Sin #2: Multitasking is Killing Your Bottom Line

Multitasking. We all do it, none of us do it well, and it can even be harmful to your team’s productivity. In fact, worldwide, multitasking costs corporations $450 billion per year.

Virtual meetings are notorious for staff answering emails, surfing the web, or just doing their day-to-day work instead of giving 100% of their attention to the meetings. Beyond being disrespectful to the rest of the team, switching between tasks causes:

  • Productivity to drop by as much as 40%
  • More frequent errors, especially where critical thought is involved
  • Higher stress
  • Increased health risk, including elevated heart rate (University of California Irvine)

Virtual Sin #3: Failed Leadership

One recent study of engineering groups showed that the best predictor of success for managers of dispersed teams is prior experience. This trend is more and more common, particularly as commutes worsen, more staff request work-from-home days, and more companies attract worldwide talent.

Yet, despite the explosion in virtual teams, many companies thrust leaders into their r oles with inadequate training – or no training at all – in how to lead them, which explains why only 15% rate themselves as very effective and just 53% as moderately effective. The result is an inefficient and ineffective team that more often than not fails to meet its goals.

Virtual Sin #4: Allowing Out-of-Sight to Equal Out-of-Mind

What is the greatest fear of the virtual worker? Being out of sight means being out of mind for their managers, leading to five key consequences:

  1. Virtual workers do not have an opportunity to grow and develop their skills.
  2. They feel left out of the loop.
  3. They do not learn company updates at the same time as face-to-face employees.
  4. Their accomplishments go unnoticed and unappreciated.
  5. Their career paths within the organization become limited.

Virtual workers who suffer these consequences participate less, which only worsens their status and well-being. In fact, 80% of virtual team members find that working virtually is more difficult than in person.

Great virtual managers will find ways to make sure their virtual team members are well integrated, well-informed, and appreciated for their contributions.

Contact us to talk about ways you could improve performance of your virtual team. Taking proactive action is what these sins need to be undone.

Virtual Sin #5: Goal and Role Ambiguity

Role Ambiguity is one of the greatest sources of stress for leaders and members of virtual teams. Leaders cannot achieve effective team performance without clearly defined goals and roles. The role of the virtual team leader is to implement structured processes, well-defined goals, and clear accountabilities for each team member.

The result of poorly communicated goals and roles is higher frequency of misunderstanding, lower levels of coordination, missed productivity benchmarks, and higher costs.

Virtual Sin #6: Taking Trust for Granted

Trust is the foundation of a high-functioning team, virtual or otherwise – it’s the glue that holds the team together.

Unfortunately, it takes four times as long for virtual teams to build trust compared to their face-to-face counterparts.

Teams with high levels of geographic, operational and cultural differences report lower levels of trust, innovation, satisfaction and collaboration than more homogeneous teams. In fact, only 50% of virtual employees report success at building trusted relationships with their fellow team members, and 52% cite managing conflict as one of the biggest issues they face.

Virtual Sin #7: Are You Missing the Signs of Burnout?

Virtual teams stand apart from traditional face-to-face teams in that geographic distance between colleagues can intensify the impact of setbacks and lengthen the amount of time it takes to recover from setbacks. This distance between team members can also make it easier for virtual leaders to miss the crucial signs of a lack of team member resilience.

By the time resilience depletion becomes obvious, the damage to team productivity and morale may be severe.

Every sin on this list contributes to burnout, acting as negative forces that lower morale and drain energy from your team over time. Great virtual managers are the ones who develop strategies and protocols to overcome these challenges, building high-performing teams that thrive.

From Sinful to Virtuous

Do you recognize any of these sins in your organization? If so, how many? Even one can have a pronounced negative impact on a virtual team. If you spot three or more in your own organization, we should talk soon because these problems simply do not solve themselves and nearly always get worse before they get better.

Fortunately, these sins don’t have to define your virtual team, and getting on the path to success is easier than you think.

A great place to start is to schedule a no-commitment 30-minute consultation with expert staff from Virtual Team Builders and set your team up for success!

BOOK A MEETING TODAY

By : Claire Sookman /October 03, 2019 /blog, CEO concerns, Virtual Leadership, Virtual Meetings /0 Comment Read More

When Working from Home Goes Wrong

Virtual team growth

About 40% of Microsoft’s 400,000 employees worldwide did not have a traditional office in 2007, the last year the company released this data. Recently, the tech giant announced that it was ending the benefit for many of those workers, aiming to transition them back to a traditional office environment.

“In many fields, such as software development and digital marketing, the nature of work is changing, which requires new ways of working,” said a statement from the company. “We are bringing small, self-directed agile teams in these fields together.”

I respectfully disagree – the nature of work is indeed changing, but very much in the opposite direction. A 2016 survey shows that more than half of corporate teams hail from multiple nations, up from just 41% in 2014 and 33% in 2012. In fact, up to 41% of corporate teams never meet in person.

So what drove Microsoft’s decision?

Failure to understand virtual work
According to the Gartner Group, 50% of virtual teams fail because they do not understand how to work virtually. Simply put, when interpersonal communication occurs mostly or entirely via electronic means, the skills and strategies we use to work productively and cohesively need to evolve. All too often, they don’t.

 

When companies say they dislike virtual teams because “the nature of work is changing,” to me it says they never quite cracked the code of doing so effectively in the workplace. Rather than solve the problem, they disrupt their workers’ lives and routines by embarking on expensive and complicated reorganizations.

 

I hope they make sure that in the new arrangement, team members sit no more than 90 feet away from one another. Any further, and they begin to exhibit the tendencies and behaviors of virtual teams anyway.

The way forward
Simply put, there is no reason – not one – why virtual teams cannot work as effectively and productively as co-located teams. Towards that end, Virtual Team Builders is pleased to launch a new resource for companies and teams that may be struggling, or even contemplating a drastic move such as Microsoft has.

 

Our Lightning Pro webinars are short, targeted, and laser-focused to address one commonly experienced challenge at a time. Affordable and convenient, each 45-minute webinar delivers instantly applicable skills and knowledge that your team can put into practice immediately. Current webinars are:

 

– Tips, Tricks and Troubleshooting for Skype for Business

– Advanced Skype for Business

– SharePoint for Virtual Teams

– Jumpstart Your Online Training

 

Virtual teams became common for a reason – they are convenient, flexible and easy to implement, making life more enjoyable for employees and less costly for businesses. Don’t let the challenges of virtual teamwork slow you down. Overcome them and achieve the results you know you can. Sign up for our Lightning Pro webinars to get started today!

By : Michal Spiar /September 25, 2019 /blog /0 Comment Read More
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