Guided Insights

Creating a Level Playing Field Across Your Hybrid-Remote Team

A remote worker for many years, Julie resigned herself to constantly feeling slighted. Maybe it was because she always seemed to be missing vital information her office colleagues shared during impromptu meetings, or that her name never came up to lead the next big juicy project, or that she was excluded from social activities. Or …

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To Build Trust Within Virtual Teams, Psychological Safety Is Everything

The #1 question I’m asked by leaders and members of virtual teams alike: How can we create a trusting environment when we hardly ever (or never!) meet in person? Teams that span multiple time zones have an even harder go of it, as they have few opportunities for real conversations of any kind. Remote teams …

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Moving from Ideas to Action in a Virtual World

You’re excited about the stunningly creative ideas your team has spawned ever since you’ve begun to include a brainstorming segment into every (virtual) team meeting. In fact, your team has generated about six months’ worth of great ideas just waiting to be implemented. And they’ll keep on waiting, and waiting and waiting — until you …

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How to Create Opportunities for More Aha! Moments, for Yourself and Your Team

When young Isaac Newton settled into a Lincolnshire garden to rest almost 400 years ago, he could not have predicted that the mere dropping of an apple from a nearby tree would give him the bolt of brilliant insight he needed to devise the formula for gravity. And nor could young Einstein have imagined that …

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12 Tips for Building Trusting Relationships Across Your Virtual Team

“My team members just don’t seem to trust each other. You can hear the animosity and frustration in their voices when they decide to talk. I detect passive-aggressiveness in almost every comment. All day long, I’m getting emails and private IMs about how this one is constantly missing deadlines, or how that one never seems …

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How Timeshifting Truly Transformed a Top-Performing Virtual Team

I had never met a soul who has flat-out nailed the art and science of leading really great virtual teams. Until now. Meet my friend Don Wynes, Director of Implementation Operations at ADP, who has been leading a team of seven high-performing innovation coaches for about a year, with members scattered across four time zones in …

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Managing Performance from Afar Made Easier: 10 Tips for a Happier Outcome

It can be awkward to give someone tough feedback when they’re miles away. And that’s the least of it. Without visual cues, the delivery of even the most well-meaning and thoughtful performance feedback can have the opposite effect. It can damage relationships, erode trust, sap motivation, and in reality, it can actually weaken performance, instead …

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It’s What People Aren’t Saying That Leaders Most Need to Hear

We’ve seen many leaders win promotions simply because they excel at managing upwards. You know the type: They grab the plum projects for themselves, doling out the routine work to others. Since they want to demonstrate their effectiveness to their managers, they pressure team members to achieve performance targets at any cost. They spend little …

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Stop Playing Favorites for a Stronger (Virtual) Team

Most sports coaches say that one of the hardest parts of their job is to coax the best from each player. But when some players are bigger, stronger or faster than their teammates, leveling the playing field becomes a lot tougher. When the pressure is on, it’s tempting to put your best players on the …

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Leading remote teams: Influencing without authority

Q: A middle-manager for a large global corporation tells us: I’ve been asked to lead a highly-visible project that requires extraordinary cooperation from team members across all functions and many regions. Trouble is, I don’t know any of them well, and I have no direct authority over their work. To be honest, I question how …

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Hello, Goodbye: Maintaining momentum when team members come and go

  Let’s face it: No project lasts forever, and no team will live on indefinitely without some change in membership. As more organizations pull together ad hoc teams to get important work done, membership is likely to ebb and flow as certain skills and experience are most needed, even when the life of the team …

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Recognize and address early signs of virtual team dysfunction to avoid irrecoverable problems later

If you’re part of a virtual team, you develop a sixth sense for knowing when dysfunction has crept in. The signs are clear, even though you can’t see vital body language or hear side conversations. People start making excuses for missing the weekly con calls. Or maybe they don’t even bother to RSVP. When people …

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Mentoring From Afar – Go the Distance To Grow Top Talent

Your organization is lucky to have retained some extraordinary talent despite the best efforts of your top competitors to lure them away. Among these key employees are a few dozen freshly minted MBAs and several mid-level managers who have been hand- picked to take on senior positions once the current crop of baby boomer executives …

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Six Management Practices That Don’t Cut It in a Virtual World

Do you think that just because you’re a successful manager of traditional teams that you’ll automatically be a hotshot manager in the virtual world? Maybe not. In fact, it’s often those managers who assume their leadership skills are eminently transportable to a virtual team are those who struggle the most. Why? They haven’t taken the …

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Coalescing a New Team – Creating Ties That Bind

Maybe you’ve inherited new team members from another group within your company as a result of recent reorganization. Or perhaps your company has merged with another, giving you a whole new group to manage. Whatever the reason, you need to pull a new team together, including people who have been working together all along and …

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Cultivating Trust from Afar in Tough Times

Today’s astonishing economic situation affects virtually every working individual around the globe. As organizations are forced to make drastic cuts and other difficult changes to remain viable, the need for competent, credible, trustworthy leaders has never been greater. At the same time, the very nature of our global economic collapse has bred deep distrust for …

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Proven in Practice – Top Tips Essential to Virtual Project Team Performance

I’m always gratified when readers write to say that the latest Communiqué really hit the mark. One reader, a colleague and former client of mine, has sent me so many such mails over the last 10 years that I arranged to meet with him – virtually – to learn which tips he found the most …

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Holding Back: A Counter-Intuitive Approach for Virtual Leaders

When they first join a new team, members tend to be energized, motivated, and eager to learn the ropes. Many take pride in finding the information and resources they need to tackle their new assignments and may need just a bit of guidance to keep moving in the right direction. After all, absorbing and applying …

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Leading vs. Managing Remote Teams

As more organizations work virtually, managers of traditional work teams are tapped to lead geographically dispersed teams. When thrust into this unfamiliar territory, many managers flounder, especially those who rely on command-and-control tactics to get work done across locations, functions, cultures and time zones. Joining me in writing this month’s Communiqué is my friend and …

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Building Trust Within Virtual Teams – Small Steps Add Up

When we ask clients to name the toughest challenge associated with leading virtual teams, there is one answer that always pops to the top of the list: Building trust. Or in some cases, it’s re-building trust. Building trust is hard for any team, but it is especially hard for virtual teams, whose members have few …

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10 Easy Ways to Disengage Your Virtual Team

I’m in the midst of rolling out a new virtual leadership series for a client. We start every series by exploring the three building blocks of successful virtual team leadership (literally, the ABC’s): Accelerating Trust, Building Social Capital and Creating a Level Playing Field. One major challenge comes up in every conversation: How to keep …

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How Virtual Leaders Can Help Others Thrive in a World of Complexity

Consider this: Today’s companies set themselves up to six times more performance metrics than they did 50 years ago. Top leaders committed to just four to seven performance imperatives; today, CEOs commit to somewhere between 25 and 40. According to Yves Morieux of the Boston Consulting Group, author of a recent Harvard Business Review article, …

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Untangle your Virtual Team with 10 Most-Needed Norms

Precious few virtual teams have explicit team norms, even for aspects of teamwork where the absence of shared norms can really trip a team up. Excuses include: “When would we have time to talk this through?” “Everyone pretty much knows how we need to work.” “We’re too busy.” And my favorite: “It’s too late to …

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Rewarding, Recognizing and Celebrating Achievements from Afar

How do you celebrate a major milestone? Maybe you call the troops together to share a pizza, or bring in a jug of coffee and a platter of decadent donuts. Better yet, you might treat your hard-working team to lunch or dinner. And if it’s a moment worthy of a special celebration, you might throw …

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Who Moved My (Virtual) Water Cooler?

When’s the last time you bumped into a colleague unexpectedly in the hallway and after a brief chat, came away with a brilliant solution to a problem that’s been vexing you for weeks? If you’re part of a virtual team, it’s probably been awhile. Even in the largest global organizations, few virtual teams have regular …

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Draw Lines in the Sand to Jumpstart Virtual Team

Virtual teams are hard to see. That’s why the boundaries that define the scope, accountabilities, roles, reporting relationships, tasks and deliverables can be pretty tough to grasp. That is, if they exist at all. Why? Some teams simply assume that everyone has a shared understanding of the big picture. If that’s true, the thinking goes, …

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Nine Hidden Assumptions That Can Kill (Virtual) Collaboration

Manager: “Look, I know I said you could work from wherever you wanted, as long as you got the job done. And yes, I appreciate that you’ve arranged your entire schedule accordingly. Of course, you’re doing a great job! (Well, at least I think you are.) It’s just that the leadership around here believes that …

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