Virtual Teamworking
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Virtual Teamworking
Working together, while apart
Curated by Arie Baan
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What is this all about?

 

Virtual teamworking, working together while apart . Most of us do it in some form or other, but not all of us take the time or energy to make sure that we do it in the most effective or efficient way.

 

My mission as a virtual teamworking consultant is to help teams, individuals and organizations to make the most of this way of working together.

 

In this topic I'm collecting new material from the web that is relevant for virtual team members and virtual team leaders: hints, tips, good practices, and some philosophical stuff from time to time as well. I'm using this myself in the books and articles I'm writing, and in the courses that I am developing and delivering. I'm happy to share this: I strongly believe that knowledge - like love - can be multiplied by sharing.

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How Intercultural Competence Drives Success in Global Virtual Teams

A study that shows intercultural competence as a factor in effectiveness of global virtual teams, and that building relationships, establishing structure, and having discipline are critical for success.

Via Anne Egros
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Anne Egros's curator insight, November 17, 2013 9:56 AM

To build a global team, first determine what needs to be done and then identify who are the best individuals for achieving the goals based on individual coaching and through intercultural training programs 

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Four Communication Methods for Running Long Distance Projects

Four Communication Methods for Running Long Distance Projects | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[James L. Haner - Learning Tree Project Management blog]

As resources, specialties and costs continue to shift around the world, the likelihood that you will lead global or remote projects is increasing exponentially. [...]

Concerns about reduced communication are valid in situations where communications must take place with others that are remote, offshore, or even in a matrix team environment with employees throughout the organization who are, for example, borrowed, so you do not have authority over them.

 

Communicate, communicate, communicate!


You need to be extra proactive in your communications to make sure everyone understands what is expected. People can start to feel isolated if they do not receive regular communications. It is hard enough to keep everyone informed on a “regular” project. The communication lines on a virtual team must be opened up especially wide. As the project leader, you can provide this steady stream of communication by using the following methods to keep communications open:

Arie Baan's insight:

Useful list of communications aspects that you can use to assess your own virtual team's performance in this area

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Seven steps for leading distributed teams

Seven steps for leading distributed teams | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Jo Hill - Econsultancy blog]

The first person I ever managed was located in a different office. I was in London, she was in Maidenhead. We both became very familiar with the M4.

Many years on, I've led a team where just one person out of 16 worked remotely, a team wholly based in America while I was in London, and a boss a hop, skip and a nine hour flight away.

Love it or hate it, distributed is the way the workforce is heading, especially within digital.

So here are my seven simple steps for creating an engaged and effective distributed team.

Arie Baan's insight:

No major breakthroughs here, but as you expect from me by now: think about these 7 points and score yourself on how you're doing with your virtual team for each of them. Good way to reflect on the effectivness of your leadership strategy

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How to get the most out of your next online meeting

How to get the most out of your next online meeting | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Yvette Adams - The Reporter blog]

Many companies are starting to move to holding meetings online using technologies like Skype, Google Hangouts, GotoWebinar and livestreaming.

The Creative Collective have always had a team which spans various states and countries including staff, trainers, franchisees and key comtractors, and as such have learnt a few tricks for running effective online meetings. 

Here's some tips on getting the most out of your next online meeting…

Arie Baan's insight:

Good list of points of attention. Not all virtual meetings require all roles to be filled. I have found that deciding up-front which roles are needed, allocating the participants who will pick them up, and making sure that all participants know and accept this, can dramatically improve the quality of the meeting.....

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Virtual Team Leadership Communication

Virtual Team Leadership Communication | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Debra Hojberg-Kraft - Houston Chronicle Work blog]

The best team leaders are skilled at building relationships. They encourage collaborative work environments in which all team members add value to the overall process. But even the most successful team leader can face tough challenges when the team must collaborate virtually. Relationship building becomes particularly difficult when the visual cues of face-to-face interactions are not available to help members assess emotional reactions. Open and effective channels of communication are vital to success --- and it is the team leader’s responsibility to build them.

Arie Baan's insight:

Good recap of the special dimensions of leadership of virtual teams

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Does Workplace Co-Location Increase Collaboration and Innovation?

Does Workplace Co-Location Increase Collaboration and Innovation? | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Kathryn Welds - on her blog]

In 2009, Cisco CEO John Chambers asserted that “the face-to-face meeting is a dinosaur,” and he demonstrated his point in aTelepresence-enabled company meeting from Bangalore, India with his fellow executive, Marthin de Beer, in San Jose, California.

Marisa Mayer of Yahoo seems not to agree with Chambers’ premise.

Her highly-publicized decision to require remote workers to work on-site every day in Yahoo offices received mixed reviews from advocates of flexible work practices such as ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment).

Mayer argued that co-location will enable Yahoos to more effectively collaborate and innovate.

-*What is the evidence for – or against – her assertion?

Arie Baan's insight:

Yes, I know, I said I would not spend space on the Meyer-homeworking controversy anymore, but this article by Kathryn Welds is of such high quality that I could not ignore it. Curation at its best!

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Nuala Dent's curator insight, August 8, 2013 9:25 PM

An interesting collection of arguments for and against remote/co-located work.

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Teams and Technology

Teams and Technology | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Axis Performance Advisors]

Technology is going to change how all of us work. The trick is how to use technology to make our lives better, not more crazy. E-mail, pagers, personal communication devices, cell phones, faxes and other emerging technologies can all be used to help us or to hurt us. I watch people on airlines calling the office and hooking up to work with their modems and wonder when they ever have a chance to reflect. Personally, I don’t want to become a cyber-slave. In this issue of our Axis Advisory, we’ll explore the impact that technology will have on teams and how we support them.

Arie Baan's insight:

Has a couple of good checklists, that you can use as a reference on how your own virtual team is doing

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How To Lead Virtual Teams: Five Strategies

How To Lead Virtual Teams: Five  Strategies | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Beth ONeill - Interaction Associates blog]

Does the following scenario sound familiar?   Rich is leading a Product Development team with members in Salt Lake City, New York, Zurich, and Hong Kong. To help focus the team and set goals, he convenes an online web meeting. Most team members are joining via the web and on the phone — except for Rich and three colleagues, who are in the same room in the New York office.

 

As Rich proceeds through his PowerPoint deck, Sandra in Salt Lake City begins sending emails to her assistant on an urgent matter. Lee in Hong Kong wants to get Rich's attention to ask a question, but gives up when Rich moves to another topic. Julia (sitting next to Rich in New York) whispers a witty comment, causing Werner in Zurich to wonder why everyone in New York suddenly burst out laughing.

 

By the end of the meeting, no one is sure what decisions have been made, or who is making them — and the online participants feel left out, to say the least.

 

That scenario points to a growing fact of life in business today: Leading virtual teams presents tough challenges, even with all the technological innovations available.  The latest tools – many of which are amazing – can instantly connect people across the globe, but dispersed teams still face a huge hurdle to success: building and sustaining effective working relationships. 

Arie Baan's insight:

Good  points on virtual leadership to consider: do you practice these in your virtual team? My bet is that there are one or two that you haven't considered .....

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Team spirit in a virtual world | Bdaily Business News

Team spirit in a virtual world | Bdaily Business News | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Kevan Hall - Bdaily blog]

For many people, working from home or virtually with colleagues from other locations and countries, has become the norm.

Today we may rarely meet people we work with and remote workers can experience a feeling of isolation and lack of community. Companies often respond by increasing the number of conference calls and other forms of communication, but these rarely solve the problem and usually place a burden on the individual and get in the way of their productivity.

There are things we can do to build team spirit, for example making time for community events and relationship building on the rare occasions when we do get face-to-face, rather than spend the whole time looking at PowerPoint presentations which could be e-mailed instead.

 

Even when we are working remotely we need to remember to give recognition and celebrate success. A few years ago I was working with a global team of Webmasters who invited me to their project-end celebration. We all dialled up to an online karaoke site and sang along on our headsets. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it was actually fun and a lot better than just a dry "thank you" e-mail.

 

Building team spirit used to be a free by-product of proximity. Because we were on the same site it was easy and inexpensive to get to know people over coffee and dinner, we could meet up in the evenings and arrange fun activities. It was normal and we developed quite close friendships with the people we worked with. As a result we came to expect that our sense of belonging and community would come from the same people that we worked with.

Arie Baan's insight:

Thoughtful article from Keval Hall, who is CEO of Global Integration, a long-standing UK-based training and consultancy firm specializing in virtual teamworking

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The 4 Fundamentals of Virtual Team Management

The 4 Fundamentals of Virtual Team Management | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Kazim Latimeja - Recruiter.com blog]

Today’s economic difficulties and talent shortages are leading companies to hire virtual talent in different cities, state, countries and continents. The average virtual web team might have some programmers in India, some mobile apps developers in the Middle East, a designer in New York and a content team dispersed across multiple home-based locations. It is one of many virtual team scenarios that exist today.

 

But, for those of you who have already hired your virtual team and are being expected to deliver mission critical projects using them, I have also prepared some tips on how to manage, engage and motivate virtual teams. You can find these below.

Arie Baan's insight:

Indeed, 4 of the key fundamental issues of leading virtual teams:

- The paradox of strong leadership vs. delegation

- Clarity on decision processes

- Scheduled face-to-face meetings, if at all possible

- Cultivating social contacts, without forcing.

Food for thought, here.

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3 Activities to Build Virtual Team Spirit

3 Activities to Build Virtual Team Spirit | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Carmela Sperlazza Southers - Blanchard LeaderChat blog] 

The more that virtual teams become our normal way of working, the more we realize how difficult it is to build the positive relationships so critical for team success.   A face-to-face meeting for team building is best, yet most teams can’t afford that luxury.

 

So how do you build team spirit when you can’t have a retreat or even just meet for coffee at the end of the day?   The key is tapping into the creativity and lighthearted nature buried within our business minds.   Here are three enjoyable activities to build relationships and team spirit.

Arie Baan's insight:

In my own practice as virtual team facilitator I have been using this sort of activities to do a check-in before starting a virtual meeting. Taking and sharing pictures on a specific topic (view from your office window, most special thing on your desk, most unusual food that you like, etc) form a great warming-up experience, that brings in meeting participants early......

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Managing Virtual Teams: Ten Tips

Managing Virtual Teams: Ten Tips | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Sebastian Reiche  - Forbes IESE blog]

As companies continue to expand globally, the number of people working in teams with colleagues and managers separated from them by many miles (and often different time zones), is growing.  This virtual team strategy has many advantages, but it presents its own set of managerial challenges; working online is less formalized, and companies frequently lack clear policies on how to manage virtually.


Here are 10 tips for managers to get the most out of their virtual teams:



Arie Baan's insight:

Good set of tips, and my recommendation is - as always with this sort of lists - use it as a quick assessment on how you are doing as a virtual team ledader.

Or if you're a member of a virtual team: how is / are your leader(s) doing? 

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The most valuable lessons I learned from managing a virtual team

The most valuable lessons I learned from managing a virtual team | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Denis Duvauchelle - The Next Web blog]

“I can’t work effectively at home.”

“Decisions are made in person.”

“I feel isolated without an office.”

These three statements are completely debunked in this slideshare. Traditional office working is losing ground as the “best way” to work, and managers supporting it are either of a generation where using social technologies is seen as lazy or timewasting, or they have the wrong team – i.e. a team that requires intense scrutiny to keep it working. 

The difference between “remote” and “distributed” is that in a remote team, there is a company office(s) where some team members are based full-time. A distributed team has no location base – everyone is in a different place.

 

Arie Baan's insight:

Good read with several interesting points of view and experiences.

One of the few sources around that highlights the difference between remote and distributed teams.

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Virtual Team Innovation: Are you a “quilter” or a “weaver”? 5 tips

Virtual Team Innovation: Are you a “quilter” or a “weaver”? 5 tips | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Carmela Sperlazza Southers - Dr Jim's blog]

Most virtual teams are organized for cut and paste work, or what I like to call quilting. Each team member creates a part of the project—sometimes simultaneously, sometimes sequentially—and the parts are sewn together. Each person operates independently, performance evaluations are based solely on individual work, and meetings are opportunities to share progress reports. This is a simple form of teamwork that is well suited for routine projects. But this team structure will not create innovation, the sharing of best practices, or the competitive advantage that can occur when you bring people together to work toward a common goal. The best teams don’t quilt, they weave. Each individual’s contribution is woven together with the contributions of others, strand by strand. The end result doesn’t resemble any one individual but instead creates a new pattern—a tapestry of innovation. Quilting and weaving are both valuable ways to create results—but if you want to innovate or implement best practices, weaving is what you need.  Here are five tips to move your team in that direction.

Arie Baan's insight:

Interesting metaphor. .. Check your "quilting", aim for "weaving"

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3 Tips to Encourage Healthy Conflict in Your Remote Team

3 Tips to Encourage Healthy Conflict in Your Remote Team | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Carmela Southers - Blanchard Leaderchat blog]

[...] 

Many virtual teams [...] struggle to leverage the diversity of their team members for effectiveness. Most often, it’s because people have a natural tendency to avoid conflict and suppress respectful and healthy differences of opinion. A virtual setting only adds to the problem, as it creates even more of a challenge to break in and suggest an opposing point of view. Without the body language clues and the information relationship that happens face to face, the leader and the team often do not realize what is missing.

Here are three ways to ensure your virtual team truly leverages the value that diversity brings.

Arie Baan's insight:

I used to call this 'creative tension' ... whatever the name, if it is absent your team will go stale in no time.

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Do not fear managing virtual teams - deadlines will ensure that get things done

Do not fear managing virtual teams - deadlines will ensure that get things done | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Andrea Francis - Lifehack blog]

There is still a lot of anxiety about working virtually or from home: Yahoo’s CEO has demanded that all employees work in the office from now on, yet a study has shown that by 2016, 63 million Americans are going to be working virtually to some degree. A whip doesn’t need to be held over your employees to watch if they are working—properly calculated deadlines and good management practices will weed out the low performers by making them starkly visible.

In a regular 9-5 office job, how is productivity proved?

DeadlinesOn-the-spot progress discussionsMeetings

That’s all.

So if it’s a question of having evidence of what the workers are up to, take a look at this list of why managing a virtual team is better.

Arie Baan's insight:

Interesting perspective on the (potential) strengths of virtual vs. 'traditional'leadership

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3 Surprising Reasons Distributed Teams Work Better

3 Surprising Reasons Distributed Teams Work Better | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Walter Chen - Tech Cocktail blog]

I’ve been shocked by something I’ve observed recently – most of the highest-performing teams that I know are distributed teams.

Companies like 37signals, WooThemes, and Buffer are multimillion-dollar companies built by teams distributed around the world.

As I studied those companies more closely, I learned why their distributed teams are so successful, and the counterintuitive ways they turned their distributed nature from a disadvantage born of necessity into a competitive advantage.

Arie Baan's insight:

As Walter states: counterintuitive, indeed.... but food for thought!

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Key skills for virtual leaders

Key skills for virtual leaders | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Wayne Turmel - Management Isssues blog]

For many of us, leading a virtual team is something that is thrust upon us with little preparation. Whether it's a leading a project or an existing team, the onus is suddenly on us to get the work done. It's generally expected that we know what we're doing. Whether that's true or not is between us and our consciences. 

 

I tend to use the terms "leader" and "manager" interchangeably and I know that that's not technically correct. They're different functions and sub-functions of the same job. Just as all dogs are mammals, but not all mammals are dogs. All leaders manage to some degree, yet not all managers lead. They should, but that's a discussion for another day.

 

But if you find yourself leading a team whose members you may never actually get to meet in person, my buddy Kevin Eikenberry, author of "Remarkable Leadership-Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time" suggests seven key behaviors that leaders of virtual teams need to develop to be successful.

Arie Baan's insight:

Use this list as a tool for self-evaluation if you're leading a virtual team, or to evaluate leadership quality in your virtual team.

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Virtual Watercooler Breaks: The Value of Informal Communication in Remote Teams

Virtual Watercooler Breaks: The Value of Informal Communication in Remote Teams | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Andrew Filev - Project Management 2.0 blog]

When I spoke about remote collaboration at a July dinner meeting of the PMI Silicon Valley Chapter, one of the attendees raised a good point. Telling about his experience of managing diverse international teams, he highlighted how important it is to learn something about the employees’ habits and interests outside of the office. For example, he has always been curious about different national holidays and their meaning. This brought him a better understanding of his team members’ cultural background, and it inspired them as well to look deeper into US traditions. But more than that, this knowledge gained him  more perspective on their work styles as a manager. For example, he noticed a correlation between people’s performance and the diet that particular holidays could impose on them. 

For a good leader, every small detail matters in order to fine tune teamwork in the best possible way. Such information can be valuable and important when you’re planning your project and allocating the workload. In what other ways can such “informal” information help at work and also support in distributed teams?

Arie Baan's insight:

Thoughtful article on the balance of formal and informal communication in virtual teams

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10 Ways to Kill (or Heal) a Telecommuting or Virtual Work Initiative

10 Ways to Kill (or Heal) a Telecommuting or Virtual Work Initiative | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Carmela southers - Blancard Leaderchat blog]

Whether it is caused by flooding in Alberta, snowstorms in Washington D.C., or fires in California, the need for clear continuity of operations plans (COOP) has brought renewed emphasis on telework and virtual working. Unfortunately, too many organizations jump into telework without a clear understanding of what is necessary for a successful telecommuting initiative.

 

Here are ten blunders organizations typically make when implementing telework.

Arie Baan's insight:

Always interesting to approach the topic from the negative "best-ways-to-make-it-fail" approach ..... but some powerful advice hidden inside!

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Leading Virtual Teams: Key Questions to Drive Success

Leading Virtual Teams: Key Questions to Drive Success | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Clare McNamara & Monica Garcia Romero - MoveAhead Global blog]

Virtual teams⊃1; are here to stay. Due to globalisation, pressure on resources and concern for the environment, virtual working is on the rise. There are obvious benefits (e.g. access to a wider talent pool, reduction in travel costs, increased productivity and reduced time to market). However, in our experience working and coaching in the virtual environment, these often come at a price to both individuals (e.g. difficulty building relationships, sense of isolation) and companies (lack of engagement, conflicts, lack of trust & collaboration, high rates of attrition).

 

Clearly these challenges are a subject for concern as indicated in our recent research (via LinkedIn polls May 2013). In this enquiry we asked participants to identify their top challenge when working in a virtual team.As you can see in the graphic, the clear winners, the ‘inability to read non-verbal cues’ and ‘difficulty building relationships’, are about the quality of human relationships. This is to be expected perhaps but what did surprise us was the large number of votes (157) and the enthusiasm with which people were willing to comment. The topic is clearly striking a chord.


Via Clare McNamara
Arie Baan's insight:

In my work with virtual teams I have found questions such as the one in the top graph of the article "Which of these is the biggest challenge you face when working in a virtual team? " to be great conversation starters.

Ask team members to think about this a pre-work and send it in. Collate the responses, and start the discussion. This works like a dream in most cases to bring out the real issues in a virtual team.

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Luís Cochofel's curator insight, July 26, 2013 5:14 AM

This is a very interesting example of what I think Linked In can offer any of us who want to take advantage - by WORKING - of its tools. My friend @Clare McNamara and her partner Monica Garcia-Romero have taken the results of a poll they've ran here on LI and are now offering us all, not only a summary of what happened, but the correct demonstration of what they do, what they love doing, and how they see it. They've even gone a bit further, thanking in private, those who - like me - have participated in it.

Clare McNamara's comment, August 6, 2013 2:17 AM
Thank you Arie, Luís and Daniel for your contributions to this debate. Monica and I are running a workshop on the topic at the W.I.N. Global Conference in October in Prague. We will be asking more questions and hope to gather some great insights from those currently working in virtual teams. Watch this space!
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Managing Projects Across Time Zones

Managing Projects Across Time Zones | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Projectmanager.com blog]

Project team members and clients often forget that I’m based in the UK. Someone once scheduled a conference call with me for 3am. I politely declined. It’s not that I’m not dedicated to the project, but really? As if I’m going to be on top form at that time of night.

 

Managing projects when your team is split across several time zones is a relatively new challenge for project managers. Gone are the days when all our team members were based in the same office as we were. If you are quite new to managing projects, this will all seem like business-as-usual to you. Managing international teams and dealing with time zone challenges is the new normal.

 

However, team members on different working hours to you can present difficulties. When do you schedule that team meeting? How can you guarantee you’ll get your status reports on time? It is possible to successfully manage an international team without having to get people out of bed in the middle of the night for conference calls. Here are our tips on how to do it.

Arie Baan's insight:

Another 5 points to add to your checklist "Are we (still) doing this well enough in our virtual team".

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Making Virtual Teams Work: Ten Basic Principles

Making Virtual Teams Work: Ten Basic Principles | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Michael Watkins / HBR blog]

Consider this now familiar view from the field:

"I've run a virtual team for the past 18 months in the development and launch of [a website.] I am located in Toronto, Canada. The website was designed in Zagreb, Croatia. The software was developed in St. John's, Newfoundland; Zagreb, Croatia; Delhi, India; and Los Angeles, USA. Most of the communication was via email with periodic discussions via Skype. I had one face-to-face meeting with the team lead for the technology development this past December."


Could this be you? Virtual teams have become a fact of business life, so what does it take to make them work effectively? On June 10, 2013, I launched a discussion around this question on LinkedIn. The result was an outpouring of experience and advice for making virtual teams work. (I define "virtual teams" as work groups which (1) have some core members who interact primarily through electronic means, and (2) are engaged in interdependent tasks — i.e. are truly teams and not just groups of independent workers). I distilled the results and combined them with my own work, which focuses on how new leaders should assess and align their teams in their first 90 days. Because that's really when it's most important to lay the foundation for superior performance in teams — virtual or otherwise. Here are ten basic principles for making this happen:

 

Arie Baan's insight:

Good material (as usual) from the HBR blog, definitely worth having a look at.

Exercise: When you read though the list, score the virtual team(s) you're involved with (like 1 is poor, 3 is OK and 5 is excellent.

Then - when you consider this to be useful for your team, send your team members the link, ask them to score with the same scale, and then share and discuss the results.

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The psychology of leading successful virtual teams

The psychology of leading successful virtual teams | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Kate Lanz - Philip Mills - Change Board blog]

Managing a team is difficult enough when in the same office, so we can clearly see the complexity and challenges of leading a virtual team. To do this successfully we need to understand our drivers as human beings.

 

Neuroscience breakthroughs give us deeper insight into the psychology of human motivation. Lawrence and Nohria (2002 & 2008) set out a model that identifies four profound drivers that dictate how we behave. These drivers underpin everything we do, but they are particularly hard to satisfy when motivating people over distance and separation. This magnifies the role of leader of multi–site teams.

Arie Baan's insight:

Intersting psychological perspective on leadership in the virtual world

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The Smart Way to Communicate With Remote Workers

The Smart Way to Communicate With Remote Workers | Virtual Teamworking | Scoop.it

[Sarah Johnson - Intuit Small Business blog]

Forget Marissa Mayer’s now infamous ban on remote workers at Yahoo. Many companies — particularly small businesses — rely on employees who work away from the office. After all, telecommuting minimizes overhead, gives staff members flexibility, and grants employers access to a much larger talent pool.

But managing remote workers presents some challenges. The distances between people can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. Emails can be misread, and silence can make employees wonder whether they’ve been forgotten.

Here are four smart ways to make sure you and your remote workers stay on the same page.

Arie Baan's insight:

I like this sort of blog post: a checklist that allows you have a quick look at how you're doing yourself on the points mentioned .... and to remind yourself to work on the areas you're not doing too well.

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