With telepresence and collaborative technologies becoming more widespread, virtual teamwork is fast becoming a popular option, especially when you take into account the effects of the credit crunch, and travel expenses. However, to ensure a virtual teams success you must maintain policies and procedures to support them.
OnPoint Consulting, a firm focused on organisational and leadership issues, recently studied virtual teams across a range of industries. The research identified several ‘best practise’ methods for virtual teams. Darleen DeRosa, managing partner at OnPoint Consulting shared some of the key qualities to success.
- Ample Initiative: Members of high performing virtual teams must remain proactive and engaged. DeRosa thinks that creating a team charter to enhance commitment and accountability.
- Willingness to Lead: She feels that proactive members on high performing teams take on leadership responsibilities as required.
- Shared decision making process: Effective team leaders need to establish processes to facilitate problem solving and decision making and revisit these communication processes over time. Democratic voting can be a useful way to see how the team is thinking.
- Understanding the Importance of Work: High performing virtual teams have an understanding of how their work impacts the rest of their business. This helps in team building, and loyalty.
- Feedback: High performing teams need to give relevant feedback to steam leaders and other workmates. There is often a problem with language – if you have a multi-country staff – so gaining feedback on the issues, will help your team bond.
- Trust: Trust is a key factor for the success of a virtual team. Its difficult to trust someone you’ve never met (the majority of employees in a virtual team are unlikely to meet) but if you follow through with your work commitments, and hold each other accountable for results.
- The Extra Mile: Team members need to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure success in a particularly difficult industry.
- Effective Collaboration: You need to understand how the team can work together to achieve its goals. Operating guidelines help structure team communication and coordination.
- Help each other: The best teams are teams that understand that sometimes everyone needs help. Helping one another is vital to a team’s success.
For those that don’t know, Virtual teams are a group of individuals who work across time, space, and organisational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. They have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose, have interdependent performance goals, and share an approach to work for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
Geographically dispersed teams allow organizations to hire and retain the best people regardless of location. Members of virtual teams communicate electronically, so they may never meet face to face. However, most teams will meet at some point in time.
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