What if I told you that letting Jamal go, because he is moving to Memphis yet he is your best associate, is not the only option you have? Or that opening that branch in Delhi, does not require you to send a team from your office in Charlton every week to make sales? Or that, James, from first floor, thinks better while sitting on the floor, holding a broom in one hand while balancing a pillow on his head, wearing nothing but flip-flops and his polka dotted pajamas, which is perhaps why his numbers have plummeted drastically since you got him his own office.
There are more and more reasons why performance is based on not only selecting the right person for the job, but also placing him in his comfort zone and motivating him accordingly. So, you decide to set up remote working teams, but the Delhi team members are praying for most part of the day, Jamal wakes up at 10am and James refuses to talk on the phone without his pajamas on. At this point, I would recommend a virtual team building exercise.
It all begins with the virtual collaboration assessment where by, the nature of the team and its members is clearly understood. The personal attributes of the team members is vital to the effectiveness of the team. They need to be self-motivated, self-reliant, result oriented, excellent communicators and dedicated team players. The assessment is crucial as it points out any possible challenges which may arise from the members’ difference in communication styles.
Once the assessment has being completed, an effective kick-off meeting should ensue. The right facilitation of this meeting will enable healthier collaborations, because, it is in these meetings that the team goal is communicated, the plan to successful completion is shared, technical and communication difficulties expected are noted and expectations and guidelines are set. Questions concerning the project are answered in this meeting. In the spirit of motivation, the team members morale is boosted through motivation talks and encouragements. This step ensures that the team members are on the same page as the project commences.
Halfway through the project, and James feels Jamal is not working as hard as he is. The Delhi team feel like both James and Jamal do not like them, and quite frankly, Jamal doesn’t trust anyone including you. I believe this is the perfect time for a Virtual team bonding session. This involves exercises that build on team spirits, trust, communication and cohesion. From these sessions, your team members will become more energized to work together, will communicate better with each other and produce better results more efficiently.
So, Jamal is happy with James and the Delhi team are constantly talking with Jamal, but the performance is not at its peak. Blame the leader. Virtual leadership training is am important part of the Virtual Team Building. It is difficult enough to lead an in-office team, the difficulties magnify when the team members are dispersed all around the globe. Effective virtual team leadership needs specific training on the technicalities of virtual teams, point in case, it is important to take note of the different time zones of your team members. Alternating the times of meetings will help the team members not to feel overburdened. If today the meeting is during the day in Delhi, tomorrow, make considerations for Jamal and James and so on and so forth.
Finally, there are a number of virtual collaboration tools that may increase the cohesion and seamless working of the team members. This tools ensure that the team members, regardless of their geographical location, are aligned in terms of project timelines and in sync in terms of project resources. Just to mention but a few, instant messaging and chat services for faster more effective communication, shared storage services for effective resource sharing, email, telephone and video conferencing tools for efficient team building and communication.