From Jannell Evans in Psychology Today this morning, the first of her eight tips on creating an effective virtual team:
Educate yourself about normal group development stages. A virtual team goes through the same stages as co-located teams. We have been using The Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model to help teams determine what stage a team is in, what challenges might arise in each stage, and how to lead the team forward toward high performance. One you understand group development stages, you can leverage that knowledge and be a more effective team leader or team member.
There will come a time, and it won't be long from now, when we simply drop the word virtual from virtual team for good. That day is coming -- be ready!
What strikes me about Janell's passage above is the same point so many team leaders we work with forget every day: a virtual team is a team just like any other. Just because you've supplanted face to face meetings with technology (chat, video, document collaboration, etc), does not mean that your team won't go through the same normalizing and socialization process that your local teams do. To build a team culture that delivers consistent results, you have to put in the up-front work to move the group through that socialization process.
Jannell offers a great suggestion for further reading in "Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance" by Darleen DeRosa and Richard Lepsinger. I'd like to add to that our friend Debra Dinnocenzo's latest works on leading and working in virtual teams. She has been writing and consulting on the subject for more than a decade and offers a wealth of great thinking to help you deliver results on your virtual teams.
Jannell's tips are great this morning -- enjoy!