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Best Practices to Increase the Success of Your Virtual Project Team

Kick Off Meeting

Team Kick Off Meeting

In today’s article on best practices to increase the success of your virtual project teams we’ll cover the “team kick off meeting.”

I strive to get clients to see the value of bringing a virtual team together for the initial kick off meeting. It is so much more valuable to have a face-to-face meeting. However, if I can’t sell the client on the benefit, or the funding just doesn’t exist, then I move to a virtual format. For a virtual team this team kick off meeting provides an opportunity for project team members to get to know each other and be comfortable with each other. When I working with a virtual team more likely than not there are a variety of cultures involved on the team. In such situations I prepare a few team building activities that enable individuals to share a bit about their cultural background. In addition, we share how we like to work with others, what our strengths are (what we bring to the project) and what excites us about working on projects. We also discuss challenges we have had working on projects.

If I can get the team together face-to-face, we have an introductory team dinner the evening before we get started. This is a relaxing format for team members to begin to get to know each other. The following day we do some team building activities along with discussing the project and how we’ll work together as team to accomplish the project objectives.

My main focus of the kick off meeting is build a team! If I find that more time is needed to really make team members feel comfortable with each other, I’ll spend more time on team building activities and increase networking time. If I need to do this meeting virtually, we still do team building and spend time getting to know each other. It requires a bit more creativity – but should not be ignored in favor of just discussing the project. As an example, for a virtual meeting I usually send out activities via email prior to the meeting for preparation and discussing in a virtual environment. One activity I have used successfully for a virtual project team that cannot get together face-to-face is to pair up two team members (from different geographic locations) with each other via email and ask them to find 2 – 3 things they have in common (other than we work for the same company!). This starts a conversation and begins to build a relationship between two folks who may never get to meet but will be working together. I ask them to introduce each other during the team meetings. Another great activity that will work for virtual meetings is a form of “Bingo!” where I gather information about each team member such as activities outside of work, trips they have taken, number of children, etc. and provide each team member with a “fact sheets” that contains from of these facts. The team members ask questions of each other to discover who is associated with that particular “fact.”

In summary – use this initial team kick off meeting – whether you can get the team members face-to-face or must do it virtually – to focus on team building and networking to get to know each other. When project team members feel connected to each other they are more apt to feel committed to the project overall – reaching out to help out other team members to accomplish the objectives of the project.