3 Ways to Strengthen Virtual Teams

During the global pandemic, we’ve all realized that our staff members are the most important asset you have in our business. A strong workforce can help our organization overcome challenging times and excel ahead of our competition. An unproductive team can hold back our progress and may cause you to go out of business. However, strengthening and building a high-performing team does not occur by accident.

Virtual Teams Challenges – Why do virtual teams need to be strengthened?

According to the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Prepare Your Virtual Teams for the Long Haul,” Mark Mortensen and Constance Noonan Hadley, they state that “Years of research and study have taught us that these ingredients — unclear missions, inconsistent social norms, low common identity, unclear roles, and unstable membership — are the recipe for team disasters. They result in inefficient, often unproductive, teams full of disconnected, sometimes disgruntled, members.”

This last year, our team members have faced social isolation, social distancing and pulling double duty, working from home, and homeschooling. Some have had to deal with losing a loved one they couldn’t say goodby to in person. People are stressed out.

Your team and staff members are looking to their leaders and managers for directions on how to handle and cope with these sudden changes and multiple crises. They need managers and leaders to communicate honestly and in a fourth right manner. According to Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, if communications are stressed, and leaders show signs of helplessness, this will have a trickle-down effect on their employees.

So, what can leaders and managers do? Here are three things they can do to strengthen their virtual teams.

  • Share-Games and Activities that will Engage Your Virtual Team members
  • Respectfully manage your teams and build trust

Build your Virtual Teams in a caring and coordinated manner.

How do you build emotionally connected teams when the team members have never met face-to-face?

According to the HBR article “5 Ways to Help Your Team Be Open to Change” by Edith Onderick-Harvey, “For change to be operationalized, you need to inspire your team to be creative and enable them to innovate. But innovation only happens when people can work in the gray space—where ambiguity is okay and business principles, rather than hard and fast rules, apply.”

Here are five things you can do to help your team embrace change and surrender to supporting the mission and each other.

  1. Tell stories about others who moved beyond the status quo.
  2. Create dialogue, ask questions, and share emotions, experiences, and insights.
  3. Ask What if questions in one-on-one and team meetings.
  4. Set expectations and take responsibility for mistakes.
  5. Champion cross-boundary collaboration and networking

How was your virtual team organized, idiosyncratic, or in an uncoordinated manner? To strengthen your team, you’ll need to provide them with team guidance, coaching, and one-on-one support.

There are four must-haves to build a solid virtual team: the right team, exemplary leadership, the right touchpoints, and the right technology. You will also need to provide a team training program to help them interact and build the right set of skills together.

Share-Games and Activities that will Engage Your Virtual Team members

Enhancing cooperation among remote workers and sustaining team member engagement starts with team members interacting regularly. These interactions should go beyond the standard status meeting or strategy call. They must incorporate fun.

Here are a few ideas to build team camaraderie and collaborative, fun activities into your meeting cadence:

  • Have a Virtual Coffee Breaks over video.
    • Share a personal Photo of a family or house pet and share a fun short story about why this picture means so much to you.
    • Share about something that no one knows about you should be a fun fact, hobby, or place you’ve traveled.
    • Have select members share a 5-minute lesson about their role to increase knowledge sharing and a little cross-team training.
    • Conduct a meeting over lunch
    • Conduct a brainstorming session using Mind Mapping software.
    • Conduct a Virtual Celebration for any team victories

Respectfully manage your teams and build trust

According to the article, The Brain Science of Creating High-performing Teams, “Psychological safety is not the mere absence of intimidation or harassment. Dr. Edmondson’s research shows that it’s what creates the climate for teams to do their best work. She defines psychological safety as “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.”

To respectfully manage and build trust, we must:

  • Learn to listen
  • Learn to Engage, establish a team mission, and clear roles
  • Build trust through Conversational Intelligence
  • Invest in team training
  • Ensure that performance reviews have a team component
  • Establish negotiation techniques for managing conflict

Author: Gerald J Leonard

A professional bassist, Gerald J. Leonard offers a unique approach to accomplishing more productivity in the workplace. Gerald is an international Keynote Bassist and Culture Change Expert. His program integrates music, productivity, workplace culture, and neuroscience.

He is the author of “Culture Is The Bass: 7 Steps to Creating High Performing Teams,”  listed on Entrepreneur magazine as one of the “Top 15 Books on Business Culture That You Need to Read Today,” and the book, “Workplace Jazz: How to Improvise.”  He is the CEO of Principles of Execution (PofE), a Strategic Project Portfolio Management and Culture Change consulting firm with over 20 years of experience working with large Federal and State Governments and Multi-National Corporations.

To learn more about Gerald, go to https://www.workplace-jazz.com

Author: Editorial Team

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