This article, How to Avoid Virtual Miscommunication, by Keith Ferrazzi in Harvard Business Review (April 12, 2013) is a spot-on, powerhouse short-list of how to avoid miscommunication with a virtual team or project group.
Ferrazzi displays insight on challenges to virtual communication:
Think about the information you can glean just from the seating arrangement in a physical conference room — who sits next to whom, who’s at the head of the table, who has put a little extra distance between herself and her neighbor, and so on. All those cues are missing in a typical teleconference.
As well as unpacking a list of SIX best practices to achieve shared understanding in virtual communication. Here’s a favorite:
Avoid sloppy e-mailing. A new status symbol in today’s generally more egalitarian business environment has arisen: sloppy e-mails. One provocative study found that many executives have write terse e-mails with half-sentences, bad grammar, and atrocious spelling. The underlying message is that those individuals are far too busy to be bothered with writing perfectly polished text. Unfortunately, sloppy e-mails at best require wasting time trying to decipher them, and at worse cause workplace misunderstandings and costly errors. For offenders who claim they simply don’t have time to write better emails, researcher Jaclyn Kostnerdoesn’t mince words: “I tell them you have to find the time; otherwise, you’re not fit for the job and somebody else should be doing it. Or maybe you need to offload some responsibilities because there’s no excuse for sending people cryptic emails.”
If anyone gave attention to these 6 principles they would unquestionably avoid a whole lot of confusion, frustration, and unnecessary interaction. Do yourself a favor and read the full article here: How to Avoid Virtual Miscommunication – Keith Ferrazzi – Harvard Business Review.
[image courtesy of marketwitharedpen.com]
An eye opening article from Sebastian Bailey highlighting how little progress in some ways virtual team management has made in the last 15 years…
In 2000, Wayne Cascio identified five disadvantages of virtual teams, none of which have been resolved by 12 years of technological advances. Overcoming these obstacles isn’t about high-definition video conferencing; it’s about effective leadership that accounts for the nuances of the virtual environment.
Read the article here: How To Beat The Five Killers Of Virtual Working – Forbes.
Work around the Clock: How Global Virtual Teams Are Re-Defining the Productivity Paradigm for Leading Companies
CHAPEL HILL, N.C., March 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — With more than one-third of employees working on at least one virtual team, it is critical for global organizations to find ways to overcome the hurdles of working virtually. Global companies are now investing resources in finding ways that will help employees work better together across time zones, differing cultures, and with conflicting workplace practices. While there are many places to misstep in the process of becoming global, leaders must examine which best practices are necessary and beneficial in order to achieve global operational excellence.
According to Best Practices, LLC’s primary research study, “Building Global Capability: Creating and Maintaining Effective Global Teams,” even global teams with established common processes and online tools can still suffer from failures and disappointments. Despite this, virtual teams can ultimately provide a company access to diverse skill sets and expertise, knowledge and wisdom about emerging markets, and round-the-clock business hours for efficiency.
In order to determine which best practices global leaders are implementing in order to create successful virtual teams, Best Practices LLC drew from extensive primary research that was completed with 59 executives from 56 leading companies. The full 56-page benchmarking report contains more than 100 metrics and 10 executive narratives, providing executives with global responsibility the tools, practices and techniques to help virtual teams work better together and achieve strategically aligned objectives.
Key topics of this primary research include:
- Why companies establish global teams
- How companies measure progress toward globalization
- Tools and practices that accelerate progress
- Practices that facilitate working with other cultures, time zones and workplaces
- How progress of individual global teams is measured
- Top improvement objectives for global teams
- Key lessons learned for managing global teams
- The biggest pitfalls to avoid in global team management
To learn more about this report, download a complimentary excerpt at http://www3.best-in-class.com/rr1016.htm.
Whitepaper: Effective Team Management A Challenge in the Virtual Workforce
Science-Based Behavioral Assessment Helps Managers Motivate, Develop and Coach Remotely
WELLESLEY, Mass., Feb. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – The virtual workforce in the U.S. ballooned from 9.5 million in 1995 to 13.4 million in 2010, growing to an estimated 20-30 million people currently working remotely at least once per week. According to new whitepaper from global consulting firm PI Worldwide, despite more employees embracing—and even expecting—a distributed work environment, research indicates low levels of confidence in the ability of managers to adequately motivate, coach and develop employees within a virtual environment.
The whitepaper titled, Managing the Challenges of the New Virtual Workforce: The Use of Personality Data to Build and Develop High Performing Virtual Teams, examines the pressures facing leaders to manage and develop teams operating virtually and the benefits behavioral assessment data provides for enhancing communication, collaboration and efficiencies across different time zones and cultures.
“The most successful virtual teams are led by managers who understand what motivates and drives performance at the individual and team levels, assigning people to tasks in line with their natural behavioral styles,” said Nancy Martini , President and CEO of PI Worldwide. “Managers who apply behavioral insights produce teams that function with stronger working relationships, communicate more effectively and deliver on the team’s collective goals.”
According to a Forrester survey cited in the whitepaper, “effective communication” is a top concern for managers of remote teams (49%), followed by “managing projects and deadlines successfully (43%)” and “creating consensus during decision-making (43%).” Martini notes additional challenges of remote team management include:
- Difficulty in building a shared sense of purpose
- Over-reliance on electronic communications
- Low team cohesion and trust
- Less satisfaction with the team experience
In a remote working environment, it can be difficult for team members to build rapport or a sense of camaraderie which can jeopardize productivity. Through behavioral assessments (sometimes called personality assessments), Martini says, managers can uncover the natural behavioral characteristics of team members to better define high performance, facilitate workflow, reduce conflict and improve group synergy.
Read the rest of this article here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/whitepaper-effective-team-management-a-challenge-in-the-virtual-workforce-192330671.html
See the whitepaper here: http://www.piworldwide.com/landing-pages/virtual-workforce-hmpg.aspx
Once again Wayne Turmell has gotten right down to the core of a common problem. Sometimes it seems like most meetings are so dreadful because everyone is just smiling and nodding; that moves nothing forward and improves no one’s morale. As you know, these ‘time and energy suck’ issues are often exacerbated when taken virtual. And that can be enough to make you want to go, as Turmell would say, ‘full Captain Bligh on people’… lol.
This is not to say you go full Captain Bligh on people, humiliating them at will and whipping them into shape, but it does mean that both meeting leaders and participants have expectations on them that need to be met.
Read this excellent article at the link below.
You may have heard in the news this past week about Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer and her no work-at-home policy. She helped usher Yahoo back into the stone age when they made it clear that any Yahoo employee that currently works from home has until June to report to an office to work or look for work elsewhere.
According to an internal memo Yahoo believes:
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”
While I agree it’s helpful to work side-by-side with coworkers, this decision reaks of the knee-jerk, backward, “can’t do” thinking I see so many companies suffer from. They’re struggling with virtual teamwork and remote collaboration so they think they should just scrap the whole thing.
As a consultant helping companies make the shift to The Anywhere Office®, I can tell you first hand that virtual teams can be MORE effective and productive than co-located teams when instituted properly, and that “speed and quality” can be unsurpassed. But it doesn’t happen by accident; it requires a strategy and training.
When I consult with companies I walk them through a process to take a step back and define team and communication guideline. We also take a look at what kind of tools they have in place already, to determine if they are the right tools, and if they are being thoughtfully applied. Even these simple exercises have helped teams transform into lean, mean collaborating machines.
The punchline of the Yahoo situation is that Ms. Mayer talks about wanting the company to be the “best place to work,” but in the same breathe she announces they are taking away the ability to have a flexible work agreement. Workplace flexibility is highly valued by today’s smart young professionals; closing the door on it at Yahoo will ensure the best and brightest will look for work elsewhere. And don’t even get me started on the litany of other benefits virtual work provides: increased productivity, cost savings, environmental benefits, disaster preparedness….
I should be thanking Yahoo’s new CEO
In an interesting article I read in Fast Company they explained why Marissa Mayer and Yahoo actually did us a big favor:
“Over the years, I’ve seen many leaders and organizations follow the same path even though employees value the ability to work remotely, and there’s a solid argument that telework actually benefits the business.The difference is that those leaders don’t have a high profile and aren’t under the same public scrutiny as Mayer; therefore, their decisions go unnoticed and unchallenged. Rather than singling out and criticizing Mayer, we should thank her for raising the veil. Yahoo’s decision gives us the opportunity to expose and challenge the misguided, faulty reasoning many leaders follow when they decide to revoke their support for flexible work.”
That’s a very valid point and I’m delighted that the decision has generated so much discussion about telework, remote collaboration, and virtual leadership. The thing that really strikes me is Mayer’s claim they need to have everyone in the same physical location to communicate and collaborate effectively – this coming from a technology leader that produces a number of tools (such as mail, calendar,Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Groups, etc.) that are designed to help people work together regardless of time or distance! Read more
It’s not just because we’re from Edison, NJ that makes us interested in this book by Sarah Miller Caldicott, Midnight Lunch: The 4 Phases of Team Collaboration Success from Thomas Edison’s Lab.
Thomas Edison created multi-billion dollar industries that still exist today. What many people don’t realize is that his innovations were generated through focused approaches to teamwork and collaboration. Authored by the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, Midnight Lunch provides an intriguing look at how to use Edison’s collaboration methods to strengthen live and virtual teams today. Edison’s four phases of collaboration success offer a simple yet powerful way to see how different combinations of live and digital resources can multiply results and deliver outstanding ROI now.
This sounds like an interesting and unique framework for talking about collaboration and communication on virtual teams.
Read a comprehensive review of Midnight Lunch here:
Thomas Edisons Keys To Managing Team Collaboration | Fast Company. by Kaihan Krippendorff
[Photo courtesy of JFImages.net]