Effective Teams

Janelle Evans offers 8 great tips on being an effective virtual team

8 Tips for Effective Virtual Teams | Psychology Today

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!

Noreena Hertz at TED London 2010 - How to use experts

Noreena Hertz is an economist of global import. From her bio:

Her work is considered to provide a much needed blueprint for rethinking economics and corporate strategy. She is the Duisenberg Professor of Globalization, Sustainability and Finance based at Duisenberg School of Finance, RSM, Erasmus University and University of Cambridge. She is also a Fellow of University College London.

Her talk at TED 2010 on the role of expertise is fascinating and illuminating. According to Hertz, "we've surrendered our power, trading off our discomfort with uncertainty for the illusion of certainty that they [experts] provide."

What does this have to do with teams, change, and strategy? While hers is a call to be cautious when listening to experts, it is just as much a call to democratize institutional knowledge. She offers three strategies for switching on our ability to make our own decisions, from challenging experts to inviting and managing dissent, and redefining who experts really are. Likely, the greatest expertise in our organizations does not reside in the highest ranks of managerial leadership.

Skip ahead to 15:00 or so for a discussion on Best Buy discovering their valuable lessons in expertise.


Prep-Do-Review - Hill and Lineback offer tips on management that apply directly to effective teams

How to Get Involved Without Micromanaging People - Linda Hill & Kent Lineback - Harvard Business Review

Hill and Lineback on post-action review:

Great managers make post-action review a regular practice for themselves and their people. You can make it the focus of a one-on-one after an activity has been completed. Or it can be part of periodic meetings with each of your people or a standard procedure you go through in the updates your people provide at staff meetings. Be sure to model what you expect when you describe something you did — Here's what we learned. Next time we'll do it this way.

Their post is not explicitly focused on making your teams better, but the lessons are perfectly applicable. The Prep-Do-Review process is what allows managers to be both present and engaged, while keeping enough distance to avoid micromanagement. But the process works at both ends of the daily managerial spectrum.

In times of high stress -- such as high-velocity change projects -- managers are often faced with the daunting task of actually managing, or providing feedback to team members, direct reports, or functional managers. And when we get busy, putting our all into these management tasks is one of things that tends to fall off the rails.

By operationalizing the Prep-Do-Review process, particularly the act of reviewing key milestones and accomplishments with staff, you're building the right habits, the right modeling behavior for the rest of the team, and you're keeping your promises to those that count on you for performance feedback of your team.

So take a read of Hill and Lineback's latest opus -- it's a quick read and worth consideration!