Thursday, May 24, 2007

Virtual Team Challenges

Many of you will know that working with virtual teams is one of my passions as a trainer and coach. If you haven't read earlier posts on the subject of virtual teams I would invite you to check out my earlier posts on the topic:

Defining Virtual Teams

Leveraging Technology for Virtual Teams

Creating the Foundation for Virtual Team Success

As I wrote in my earlier posts, virtual teams bring with them some amazing opportunities, as well as some real challenges which need to be navigated to enable virtual teams to perform at their greatest.

Some of the common challenges which virtual teams face are:

*Navigating across timezones (rather than an 8 hour day virtual teams may be "operating" 24 hours a day, possibly 7 days a week)

* Working across technology - use of different platforms and technology available from the location

* Working across cultures and languages

* Creating a shared vision for all team members

* Nontraditional communication methodologies which may require equipping staff with enhanced skills in virtual communication

For virtual teams to flourish they require that a high degree of trust be established between individual team members. The foundation for this can be started through an on-site teambuiding meeting for all team members. Ideally, the team should have face-to face meetings at the start of their project, or in the early stages, to develop a common vision, protocol and understanding of their roles. Regular (semi-annual or annual) face-to-face meetings can provide the opportunity for the team to further connect and check on alignment on these issues, while working through challenges and opportunities facing the group.

Many times, communication (positive and negative) can be the foundation for virtual team success. What is communication like in your virtual team? What needs to be enhanced? What can you leverage?

If you are working in a virtual team and looking to take your team and results to the next level, I would welcome hearing from you.Much of the work I am doing as a relationship systems coach is very applicable to the virtual team environment. I would be happy to further discuss how this support may benefit your virtual team.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton
Potentials Realized
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960


Arun Kumar said...

Two key points you made (among others):

* Working across technology

* Creating a shared vision for all team members

I couldn't agree more: for a virtual team to succeed, you need not just a cross-platform (Windows/Mac/Linux) tool, but also something that actually lets you convey a shared vision.

For most people, that's best done with visual metaphors, which is why in project meetings people invariably cluster around a whiteboard to understand and expand the project vision.

There is a tool that does a good job of addressing the issues you raise in your post: Kerika.

Jennifer Britton said...

Thanks for the suggestion regarding Kerika Arun!