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Increase the Success of Your Virtual Teams

Virtual TeamsMany of today’s teams include virtual or remote members. In fact, in today’s global environment, we may be leading teams that have very few, if any, co-located members. While all teams need to have structure, it is especially important to ensure there are processes and structure in place for virtual teams in order to ensure that team members can achieve their objectives.

Consider the following that every leader of a virtual team should have in place in order to ensure that their team members are working toward a common goal:
  • An agreed upon team charter
  • A clearly defined purpose for the team
  • A vision for the team
  • Clearly defined team objectives and team norms
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities of each team member
  • A regular schedule of virtual meetings
  • A feeling of concern and support for their fellow team members
  • Diverse members who bring a variety of perspectives, knowledge, skills and expertise to the project
  • Access to a variety of effective communication channels
  • Guidelines and processes in place for communicating, collaborating, problem solving, decision making, resolving conflicts and generally getting the work done

While this same type of structure is of value on all teams; it is particularly important on virtual teams. It is easy for team members to feel detached from other team members on a virtual team. It is also easier to be working at cross purposes without having guidelines and processes in place that are agreed upon.

As a best practice, for virtual teams, it is a good idea to utilize technology that enables for collaboration among and between team members. This is the place to house all documentation, guidelines, processes and procedures in use by the team as well as to enable for discussions and a problem solving forum.  Use this also for a team directory. Include not just names, locations, contact information, skills and expertise; but also something personal about each team member (such as hobbies, family). This enables for team members to get to know each other. This forum also functions as a great place to share information, best practices and exchange ideas.

What are your best practices for leading virtual teams and enabling for success on their initiatives?