I don't mean to denigrate these lists -- and this one is pretty good -- but they do tend to be the same, often derived from someone else's research, or, as I've said before, come right off the top of someone's head. This one, from Carl Eidson at Wilson Learning, rests on research published in Sloan Management Review this year that reinforces our findings in our 2004 Harvard Business Review article: virtual teams can outperform their face-to-face counterparts...if they behave like grown-ups. Yes, I added that last bit. Here are Eidson's six points. All good.
1. Keep all team members in close communication.
2. Create a collaborative mindset.
3. Clarify the team’s purpose and goals.
4. Establish clear performance standards.
5. Adapt coaching strategies for distance management.
6. Celebrate milestones and successes.
What's to argue with, whether face-to-face or virtual? Let me try.
1. To stay in close communication requires a slightly different angle than "regular communication." Requires cooperative development of operating agreements, pairing off those who don't know one another, attention to time zones, holidays, cultural differences...and on and on.
2. Yes...and what precisely do you do to establish a collaborative mindset? Big topic that requires design of work that calls for collaboration and rewards it.
3. No argument at all. Clarifying purpose and goals is the first task of any successful work endeavor. How the team has access to its clarity is the key here. Online venues for updating how purpose plays out are critical to success.
4. Performance standards can't be a throwaway line for virtual teams. Because members often come from different organizations, this can become a huge challenge and negotiation among leaders. Huge.
5. Finally the issue of coaching virtual teams is showing up in nearly everything coming out. Very important. Watch for virtual leadership coaching to be developed for executives, the cutting edge of this new coaching market.
6. Celebrations are very important - but the article fails to mention that virtual celebrations may be the only alternative. Execution is the Achilles heel of intent.