Engaging Virtual Teams
October 31, 2019
Creating engagement on any work team is a challenge. So consider the struggle with engaging virtual teams members who all work in different time zones. But more and more, our modern workspace connects people primarily through screens, so in many ways engaging virtual teams is no more a challenge than with teams who work in one location.
Regardless of where you work, the importance of engagement is the same. High levels of trust, open communication, recognition, inclusion and collaboration create motivated, engaged employees. Many virtual teams are thrown together without understanding the isolation team members might be feeling, which does make engagement more of a challenge.
PRC’s research on virtual teams showed that engagement is essential to team success. We included our findings in Virtual Teams for Dummies, and we’d like to share a summary of best practices for engaging virtual teams below:
- Creating a culture of connection: Make video conferencing (as opposed to just a conference all) the standard method for holding team meetings. Requiring regular face-to-face communication establishes a human connection. Also, make it a common practice to do a personal check-in at the start of team meetings and allow for informal, personal sharing before you get down to business.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Respect at work looks like this: showing consideration for others in words, tone of voice, and body language; listening without interruption; and treating people the same regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, or country of origin. Respect is especially important on virtual teams where you connect to coworkers via screens and much of your communication is written, so choose your words, punctuation, and emojis carefully.
- Grow and learn: Enthusiasm for learning is a primary motivating force. Human beings are innately curious and want to learn. As a manager, if you’re skillful at coaching, mentoring, and counseling, you can satisfy your team members’ thirst for knowledge. Support them in finding ways to learn new skills and build their careers.
- To be an insider: Invite team members to the inner circle, show them their opinion matters. If you want your remote team members to be devoted to your company, include and involve them as much as possible in decision making, goal setting, and change.
- Meaningful work: People work for more than a paycheck. Many factors can make work meaningful: recognition, goals that are achievable, a clear path to success, the ability to master new skills and improve, and company values aligned with personal values. Encourage team members to share the personal satisfaction and fulfillment they get from doing their work and don’t forget to celebrate and recognize personal milestones and impactful accomplishments.
- Winning team: A cohesive team that is built on trust and strong relationships ignites passion and exceeds expectations. Your company and every company in the world wants team members to love what they do and more importantly to love their team and their company. So celebrate successes often, do virtual team huddles and encourage team members to connect – IRL or virtually – outside of work projects to strengthen relationships.
If you want to strengthen the engagement levels on your virtual teams, we’d love to help. Get in touch at http://virtualteamschool.com/