A little bit off the main streams but also relevant for many teams, groups and companies. I am currently working on a small presentation for an upcoming event about a quiet interesting topic. So i decided to share it with you on this blog too. As the event is about collaboration i choose virtual teams as the topic for my presentation and i want to give you some main factors you need to think of when creating a virtual team.
More and more companies are expanding in different areas and locations. Sometimes you have teams on different topics located at different offices. On a national or international scale. So it get more important to be able to create virtual teams. A virtual team is a group of people working on the same goal or target but they not located at the same place. But you need to create way to make them work as a team.
Choose a Leader
When creating a virtual team you need to think about the required leading skills which are quiet different from traditional leading. The one who needs to lead the teams need to know how to lead, communicate and monitor the teams activities. On the other way around it is absolutely necessary to build up trust between the team members and the team leaders. As the in person presence is missing you should need to build a virtual presence as the leader. The team always should know how to reach out and how to communicate. So in a summary
- Build a Strong connection between the team and the lead. Trust should be established
- Define communication channels and rules
- Define the leaders role and responsibilities
Build the team
Important topic when choosing people to join the virtual team. If possible you should bring in people with a strong personality and a passion on working on virtual environments like communities and collaboration platforms. Finally your team should not be bigger then 10 people. Researches have shown bigger team will decrease every members performance. Due to the decrease of responsibilities and targets for each one.
- Open minded and collaboration experience
- Team size below 10 people
- Define roles and goals for every team member
- Role workbooks
- communication process
Get to know each other
To build the strong team you should try to bring the team together in person. Even if we want to work in virtual teams you can build strong connections between the team members if they get to know each other. Best point for this would be a Kick-off event when the team should pick up there tasks. If you will build a global team you should use technologies like video communication to do you kick off event. People who will join later in the project should be introduced via a defined on boarding process. Also use video conferencing to bring the new member into the team. If this has not been defined well enough the new member will not be a full member of the team. In the worst case he or she will feel disconnected and less engaged in the team.
- Introduce the members to each other
- get together in person or video conference
- on boarding process for late joiners
- Reoccurring meetings to bring the team into one room (video conference)
- strategie for motivating the team
All this leads to this point. Using the right technology also requires a huge amount of preparation effort. This will be the toolset for your team. Or call it the virtual office space where your team is working. Like a real office you need think about the virtual environment you need. The technology will act as meeting place, place for exchanging information and updates. Also to see the progress by other team members, Goals and targets, announcements. When choosing technology you should consider some points.
- How to enable conferencing – video and via chat
- direct calling between the team member
- chat and text messaging
- how to store your work and how to make it available for others
- Virtual workplace – collaboration platform
The overall major topic when building up virtual teams is communication. You need to create a detailed communication strategy for the team and the team lead. Who, when and what needs to be communicated. As the members are not in the same location they need to rely on correct and effective communication. A communication with neighbors is not available and needs to be replaced by other methods. A problem with communication will decrease the team performance and will decrease motivation.
Everyone wants to be part of the team, share interests, goals and targets. This needs to be transported via your communication strategy. Keep this in mind and start the preparation before creating your team.
Following this tips will help you to build up a strong connected and well performing virtual team. There are several more topics to be mentioned about this. For me these are the key performing factors. Keep these in mind and you avoid some critical mistakes.