First, teams must not underestimate “the challenges of being dispersed.”
Second, teams must not “[waste] the precious time that they do spend together.”
Too many virtual teams utilize their quarterly or monthly in-person sessions engaging in social activities, somehow believing that this is how the team will bond. While social time is okay, if there is not a focused and organized attempt to build relationships in the context of the work that needs to be done, then the team will only improve its collective golf scores, or worse yet, its tolerance for alcohol. On the other side of the equation, too many teams go the other way, spending their sparse time together doing detailed operations reviews and addressing overly tactical matters, which is almost as unproductive as golfing. The perfect storm occurs when teams split their time between irrelevant socializing and mind-numbing detail, resulting almost inevitably in everyone coming to dread another useless trip to corporate.
What team members really need to do when they are face-to-face is develop their relationships by getting to know one another’s strengths and weaknesses, not in a touchy-feely way, but in the context of the goals of the business. And they need to establish clear alignment around the bigger picture issues like the team’s core purpose, values, strategic anchors and top priorities. Wasting time in the weeds wrestling with detailed ops issues is fruitless and frustrating when teams are not on the same page relating to these bigger issues. Strong relationships are critical to getting on the same page because it allows the team to debate issues passionately and productively, which increases the likelihood that everyone will buy-in.
— VIA —