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Enabling Virtual Team Relationships – Part VI

The joint problem solving/conflict management session

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V of our story for background information.

The day of the problem solving session fast approached! Alice thought it may take some time to come to agreement on the problem, but was pleasantly surprised to find out they were able to come to agreement fairly quickly. It seems her conversation with both Samantha and Mimi really got the two of them thinking! It was agreed that the problem was that the two of them were not working together effectively and collaboratively and, rather than sharing ideas and solving problems and making decisions together, they were taking different paths. Additionally, they were being impacted by vastly different time zones. All of this was impacting certainly their ability to work together and was also beginning to be noticeable to the team and was impacting the project. They were, by not working together, not always making the best decisions and quality was being impacted.

After getting agreement on the problem, Alice asked Samantha and Mimi to share what they prepared prior to the session. You’ll recall, from Part V, that they were asked to be prepared to share/discuss:

  • The strengths that each felt the other brought to the team and to share that information with the other person
  • How they felt the issue might be impacting their working relationship with each other and on the team as a whole
  • What they need from the other person in order for them to work together successfully

Here is what they shared:


Question asked…

…What they shared


Strengths Mimi brings to the team

  • Confident
  • Skilled
  • Decision maker
  • Fast-paced

Issue impact on their relationship and on the team

  • Not collaborative
  • Feeling of being unvalued
  • Lack of ideas/suggestions
  • Best decisions not always made
  • Lack of a team environment

What is needed from Mimi

  • More collaboration
  • Value strengths bring to team
  • Ask for help
  • Welcome ideas and suggestions made
  • Make decisions as a team


Strengths Samantha brings to the team

  • Can do attitude
  • Skilled
  • Cares about the project and others

Issue impact on their relationship and on the team

  • Less collaboration

What is needed from Samantha

  • Push more to get ideas/suggestions across

Mimi had more difficultly in this activity than did Samantha. Samantha thrived on collaboration and Mimi was just fine if she didn’t collaborate. Therefore, Samantha saw more issues and felt more of an impact that Mimi did. More time was spent in sharing and discussing this information than Alice thought it would take; however, it was time well spent. At the end of discussions, Mimi seemed to have relaxed a bit and Samantha was opening up much more. Mimi appreciated that Samantha wanted to contribute and in fact had the skills and expertise to do so. She also realized that Samantha had some great ideas and insight based on experience outside of the company. Samantha also realized that Mimi was fast-paced and therefore made decisions rapidly and was ready to move on. By pacing how she worked (speeding up just a bit), Samantha would be able to work more effectively with Mimi and Mimi would help by slowing down just a bit.

During the discussion on how to solve the problem/resolve the conflict, many ideas were brought up by both Mimi and Samantha. And they seemed to build on each other’s ideas, which really pleased Alice. They were actually working together!

They finally decided on this approach to solve the problem of how to work together more effectively and collaboratively:

  • They would change virtual meeting times so that every other week one of them would be negatively impacted by the time of the meeting
    • One week would be a good time for Samantha
    • One week would be a good time for Mimi
  • They would share leadership of the meetings
  • During these virtual meetings they would discuss:
    • Problems that have arisen and how to work collaboratively solve them
    • Status on their tasks/assignments
    • Make any decisions that needed to be made

Alice also asked that they spend just a few minutes at the end of each meeting “checking in” with each other to see how it was going by asking the other person: Are we working together effectively and where might we improve how we work to accomplish our goals? Each felt this might be awkward at first, but were willing to give it a try.

Alice also asked that they start each meeting with sharing with the other person something that person did which was of value (a compliment.)

After the meeting, Alice, Samantha and Mimi went out to lunch. They spent the time just getting to know each other – talking about family, pets, hobbies, etc. It was a great time and, at the time together, Alice felt that things were going along quite well.

Part VII – Checking in with Samantha and Mimi

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