The Challenge of Working Virtually

In a recent column at business consultant Terry Waghorn, (who co-authored Mission Possible with Ken Blanchard) interviews teams expert Patrick Lencioni about the challenges of managing virtual teams.

Lencioni points out that the key to being a more effective virtual leader begins with acknowledging the fact that working remotely posing serious challenges. As Lencioni observes, “E-mail and voice mail and texting and instant messaging have all become so second-nature that we too often assume that a team member’s physical location makes little difference to the team’s effectiveness.

That doesn’t make sense to Lencioni who uses a family-based analogy to make his point. “After all, no family would say, “Well, Dad lives in New York, Mom lives in San Francisco, and the kids are spread around the country, but thanks to my iPhone and computer, it’s no different from living under the same roof.”

Lencioni observes that simple, daily interactions help build the bonds that people need to “thrive during good times and survive during challenging ones.”

For teams that don’t have the opportunity for daily interactions at the jobsite, Lencioni recommends that team leaders:

  • Build relationships within the context of work
  • Revisit their purpose, values and mission
  • Develop trust and determine methods for hashing out differences remotely

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