Make your virtual team thrive

July 14, 2017 | Global Growth: How Iowa companies find success abroad Deborah Rinner, Vice President, Chief Learning Officer, Tero International,

Q. When technology and distance are factors of my team, I know there will be challenges. What tips do you have for virtual teams?

A. A team experience in a virtual environment begins with something difficult to create that is easily lost: trust. Although trust is a foundation for any relationship, it plays a particularly important role in virtual team dynamics. Here are three key considerations for leading a virtual team and creating trust.

  1. Identify the cultural drivers and the effect on process. What cultural groups are represented on your team? What are the values of each? Where do the team members line up as to communication style, orientation to task, view of power, individualism or group perspective, and time orientation? Knowing the cultural variances will help you set inclusive guidelines. Leverage the differences to create processes that instill trust.
  2. Give some thought to values and mindset.Make a team charter. What kind of mindset will be most conducive to reaching your goal? Terence Brake, author of “Where in the World Is My Team,” identified nine personal qualities that prepare the soil for trust among team members in a virtual environment. They are Respect, Openness, Transparency, Integrity, Empathy, Caring, Confidence, Congeniality and Reciprocity. What do these mean to you? Are they demonstrated differently by your teammates?
  3. Be willing to go back to square one. Virtual teams require more trust than face-toface teams. The possibility of misunderstanding others is greater when remote. If you see problems cropping up, circle back to discussions around how best to communicate in order to give and get trust. Use some team time to reformulate. If you don’t, your team will not reach true goal potential.