We subscribe to Google Alerts and daily we receive links to items related to our search term, which is “virtual teams.” Sometimes the links are not quite appropriate, like the teams for the next World Cup and since the search engines look everywhere, posts from people in other countries are not uncommon. With that said, we do review most of them looking for a strategy or tactics that may help the teams we train become better. Here are two that arrived on Sunday, March 11, 2012.
We mention them to illustrate that regardless of how they are worded many of these posts, in our estimation, hang on the same rhetorical skeleton, B.W. Tuckman’s classic stages of team development. We have provided links to the original posts so you can decide for your self.
The first post addresses team mindfulness and invokes Buddhist thought. Team mindfulness is “vigilant attention to what is happening, clear comprehension of underlying team dynamics, and wise reflection on what is needed” in a virtual team.
But the body of the post addresses common issues such as a team’s mission statement, structure, ongoing communication, collaboration and culture, issues we see as common in most virtual and face-to-face teams. That’s why training in the fundamentals of team development is so beneficial.
The second article, Better Communication for Virtual Teams, cites some common obstacles to effective (virtual) team communication and offers remedies. Those most commonly cited obstacle to effective teamwork was an inability to read nonverbal cues, with 94 percent of respondents agreeing. They also cited difficulty establishing rapport and trust; a sense of isolation; and a sheer lack of response among team members. Again, since the focus is virtual teams, reading verbal cues is destined to be a challenge, Skype or no Skype!
Some of those remedies, which also apply to face-to-face teams, include less reliance on any one form of electronic communication. For example, a team can spend hours, perhaps days in an email back-and-forth, solving a problem which could have been handled in a 15-minute conference call. Other suggested remedies are to establish rules and to moderate team activity. Both of which we endorse and have made an integral part of our team development program from Team Powered Success.
Read the articles for yourself and decide. We’d be happy to hear your comments.