By Melissa McManus
Taking the “team” out of teamwork leaves you with just work. Doesn’t sound like much fun, right? Even still, many people are not thrilled at the opportunity to work in a group setting.
The fact is, working in teams can be challenging. It can be even more challenging working on a virtual team. However, working on a virtual team is possible and can be highly successful.
Currently, in my role with KAI Partners, I work both individually and as a part of a virtual team. When needed, I rely on my team to assist in getting projects completed and, vice versa, they rely on me. We work together to solve whatever problem or challenge is upon us. I am the first to admit that group work is not my favorite way to work; however, working with my current team is amazing and I could not ask for a better group of people to be my teammates.
Sure, team dynamics are not always so easy, but my situation doesn’t have to be the exception to the rule. How then have we managed to be so successful? There are a few things you can do on your team or group to allow you to be more successful working together.
Open lines of communication are extremely important, especially in a virtual setting. Communication through email can sometimes get “lost in translation” and if the meaning of what you are trying to convey is misconstrued or if the tone you are trying to use is seen as rude, that can create issues among the team. If the team dynamics are suffering, then the work will suffer as well.
To help combat this, my team and I have a weekly video conference call. During this call, we discuss our projects from the week, including challenges and updates, as well as our plans for the following week. We are able to support each other and it gives us a chance to actually see one another “in person.” Remember, regardless of the method, communication should be clear, concise, and complete.
Know your Team
This is one area people often overlook. However, it is important to know who your teammates are, including their strengths and opportunities. Knowing who you are working with will go a long way in understanding how everyone works and will provide clarity on understanding how they will work with you. This can take a little bit of time, but it is worth the effort and will help build trust and respect among the team.
My team and I have been working together for almost a year. In that time, we have been able to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to best utilize the skill set of the team to complete projects successfully and timely. One way we have done this is simply by asking how weekends were and by getting to know each other on a personal and professional basis. Learning who your teammates are outside of the office can benefit your work inside the office, as well.
These are just a few steps you can take to ensure more successful team dynamics. These two areas can help with problem solving, breaking down barriers, and making sure everyone on the team is accountable.
Remember, TEAM means:
What are some other ways you have found to help build a solid foundation for a virtual team?
About the Author: Melissa McManus has five years of research experience as well as over a decade of experience working in the educational sector spanning from TK through Adult education. Melissa has a Masters in counseling, received from California State University, Fresno and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, research, writing, coaching, training, and knowledge transfer. On a more personal note, Melissa is involved in community service efforts including serving as chair of her children’s school site council, volunteering her time as an art docent, and serving in the library of her local church. In her free time when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, Crossfit, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.