Dr. Ashish Banerjee
With the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic, organizations around the world are trying to adapt in a number of ways, one of them is by allowing their employees to work virtually. Many organizations have required their employees to be physically present at their office location prior to the pandemic, while others may have allowed for some of their employees to work virtually on occasion, where other organizations simply did not allow for any virtual work. As organizations including higher learning institutions adapt to a new normal of virtual work, they have to do so with a mindset of embracing web/ video conferencing technology such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype where their employees are still able to collaborate, communicate, organize and exchange ideas as if their employees were still operating in a face-to-face environment.
While virtual work is not for everyone, having an open-mindset becomes paramount in navigating in uncertain times. No doubt, managing employees in a virtual environment can be challenging. Through the utilization of web/ video conferencing technology, teams are now able to quickly ideate virtually across time zones and continue to deliver on key organizational objectives and priorities. That said, there are several best practices to consider in developing high-performing virtual teams:
Building Relationships. Central to any relationship is trust. Trust quickly and empower the people on the team to do their job, that’s why they were hired in the first place. Creating opportunities for people on virtual teams to get acquainted, both on a personal and professional level will go a long way, especially once an authentic connection has been established on an individual level. Providing opportunities to virtually engage in team huddle touchpoints to address any challenges, concerns and providing assistance to removing project road blocks will further aid in demonstrating trust. Frequent virtual team meetings with video calls where people are able to genuinely connect to the hearts and minds of their peers sets the foundation for working in a virtual team.
Open line of communication. Find a suitable time which works for everyone on the team to schedule reoccurring video calls, taking into account time zone differences and working hours. Scheduling frequent team huddles or even one-on-one video calls ensures that team members are on the same page by articulating a clear understanding of the project objective, expectation, schedule, and aligning team members with their respected roles and responsibilities. Ensure that everyone on the team has access to one another’s calendars, to allow team members to easily connect and maintain open lines of communications with one another. Demonstrating accessibility by readily being available to communicate in a virtual team environment ensures a common commitment to project success and further nurtures a positive team dynamic.
Continuous Learning. One of the best ways to learn is from failure. Virtual teams who demonstrate a desire for continuous learning from failure ultimately experience increased growth and performance because team members are motivated to work collaboratively towards a shared objective. Learning from failure within virtual teams is critical for individual development, fosters open dialogue and creates a natural environment for collaboration to develop. Team members can serve in a teaching capacity by demonstrating collaborative team dynamics and trust among peers, as these attributes become central to the role of learning from failure.
Developing High-Performance Teams Requires Agility and Being Open
Building a high-performance team is challenging, and doing so in a virtual work environment is not an easy feat. Showing your team that you care for them as an individual by forming authentic relationships based on trust, keeping an open line of communications and more importantly being open to continuous learning through failure can quickly optimize your team to becoming a high-performing team.