Working in virtual teams removes almost all of the social cues that we rely on when interacting with others. We can’t see them. We can’t hear what they’re up to unless we explicitly call or reach out. We don’t know whether they are being silent because of travel, holidays or … frustration with the project. And sometimes it seems too hard to cope with, too hard to bear. To top it off, even if we had the funds and permission to travel to talk it all out, it’s often not possible or practical.
It also puts us in the direct line of having to use communication, collaboration and coordination tools that can be a pain to use, that fail (there is a system outages, for example), or that get in the way of communicating with others. With cross-border virtual team work, we work with people from different cultures — they speak differently to us (so we have to strain to hear and understand), they have different ways of working to us (so things that we take for granted they find objectionable), etc. And vice versa.
So we need to bring willingness to the table … a willingness to try again, a willingness to be (extra) patient with people and systems, a willingness to listen deeply (and then listen some more, so we can truly understand and comprehend what others are saying).
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.
What Do I Need To Do?
Stay willing. Do, on a regular basis, those things that create the passion and power for your work … those things that keep you willing to communicate, help you to keep reaching out, enable you to answer in a tone and with words that encourages others to talk rather than shutting them down through cynicism or critique. Take care of yourself, so that you can interact and work effectively with others.
Maybe your thing is to swim, cycle or run. Do it.
Maybe your thing is to paint. Do it.
Maybe your thing is to climb mountains. Do it.
Maybe your thing is to have coffee with a friend. Do it.
Whatever it is that keeps you engaged and re-creates the passion and power to work effectively … to re-empower the willingness to be deeply involved in virtual team work — do it. You owe it to yourself, because you owe it to your fellow team members.
See A-Z of Virtual Teams: Summary for the complete list.
Categories: Culture & Competency
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