The Virtual Team Start-Up

"This is not two days out of work; this is two days of highly productive task and team progression"

This is about getting the most from every moment of your virtual team start up.

Don't kid yourself. Creating a virtual team is not something that "you make up as you go along". It is something that demands skill, attention, care and focus. Working alongside your teams, we strive to help them cultivate controlled self sufficiency from the outset. We keep them focused on the task whilst facilitating them through carefully designed activities that will enable them to mature both as individuals and effective team members.

Challenging and realistic expectations are set for the fledgling team with confidence built through expert facilitation. The output from the two days can be visibly measured in two key areas, team maturity in the face of the virtual challenge and the team capability in terms planning, efficiency and delivery.

The philosophy is simple, if we walk in front, they may not follow, if we walk behind they may not lead - if we walk alongside and we can see and learn from each other.

Team Effectiveness Diagnostic

The Team Effectiveness Diagnostic is completed three weeks prior to the workshop by all team members and the leader. This diagnostic provides teams with accelerated insight into their current virtual capability and the team's strengths, successes and areas for improvement. The collated report is brought into the workshop as the start point for discussion, issue identification, prioritisation and resolution.

Workshop Outline

Gives details of all the standard sessions, however we are always happy to customise this workshop to meet your specific needs.

Duration

Typical team start ups are two days with the team having the opportunity for the evening of day one to continue getting to know each other. We do provide structured evening challenges prior to the meal but recommend that the team has the space to just be with each other in a relaxed setting. Many will also have traveled some way to be at this event and some time to chill may be greatly appreciated.

Preparation

The Start Up will provide your team with a rich source of facts, insights tips and tools about working virtually to ensure that common pitfalls are avoided and gathering intelligence about working virtuality absorbed. However this session is rooted in your team's realities and opportunities thus it is critical that we talk with the leader prior to the event to ensure the history, progress, needs and context within which this team is operating is fully understand and the session customised accordingly.

Target participation

This workshop is designed to suit all teams who need to operate with partial through to total virtuality.

Support Materials

This specialised workshop is also accompanied by an "instruction" manual for virtual teams. Genuine and refreshing post-workshop support packed with virtual insights, tips and tools and a web link to some invaluable virtual teamworking facts.

Participants also receive a copy of the comprehensive guidebook "The Practitioner's Guide to High Performance Teamwork" in which the usual dry textbook theory has been replaced with practical, action-oriented tips, text, worked examples, tools and key documents.

Useful 'Virtual' information

For information on world time and international dialling codes, click here

Ongoing development

One-on-One coaching is also available either by phone or in person.

Workshop Outline

Introduction

A lively, fast-paced introduction that sets the tone for the start up and grabs immediate attention and interest. Includes: review of agenda, event operating principles, expectation-setting, and a team 'icebreaker' exercise providing data on current team effectiveness, to enable the team to benchmark their progress during the event.

High Performance Team Overview

This session introduces the concept of the high performance virtual team, in which fusion and cohesion between individuals is required; and contrasts it with a group, which basically remains a collection of individuals.

How virtual are we?

Virtual comes in many shapes, sizes and varying degrees of complexity. The team figures out how virtual they are or need to be and whether this changes across different phases of the task.

Belonging to a high performance virtual team

An opportunity for the team to exchange their experience with working virtually, their working style preferences and how they cope and thrive in a virtual setting.

A simple diagnostic helps participants examine how far virtual working fits with their working preferences and individual needs. With a review of the personal attributes that can aid or impede getting to grips with it.

This session then takes a good look at the day to day realities for the human being of working virtually and the emotional roller coaster that can follow, providing some great "how's" around the most challenging and common issues that can arise, e.g. how to cope with conflict between local and virtual demands, how to get and keep engaged to something that may feel intangible and removed.

What is our purpose?

Critical that the team get an opportunity to really understand why they need to work as a team and what their purpose is. Amazing how many teams assume they share common understanding of their goals and priorities only a few crisis and conflict later to discover that they don't. The team is guided through understanding the context in which the team is operating, its scope, connection to other initiatives and result in sharing and agreeing the team's goals and priorities.

Why am I here?

What are everyone's unique talents and contributions and why are they a member of this team? Connecting with the right people starts with knowing each others experience base, contacts, talents and team accountabilities.

Team effectiveness diagnostic

The team reviews their completed diagnostic to establish the areas for attention and the strengths to hold on to. Practical sessions result in a shared understanding of the major team issues to tackle, an agreed list for immediate attention, and the areas for particular focus on this event.

Relationships that matter; getting to know your virtual leader and colleagues

How on earth can you develop/sustain effective relationships with people across time zones, cultures and functions that you rarely get to meet? And why bother?

This session examines the true impact on relationships where those involved are apart - and works on how to build from the smallest gesture and action, closing the perceived gaps created by distance, background and culture.

Participants then work on how relationships can be forged so that the right interactions between the right people take place and how to move away from the tendency for the team to become a series of one-on one relationship between leader and team members, with team members rarely connecting.

If different cultures are represented on the team the team helps each other gain practical insights into each culture to facilitate working effectively and sensitively.

Getting our technology right

The team works through a disciplined review of their technological needs and plan how to put this in place with contingencies if budget or other restrictions prevent these requirements from being fully met. The team will determine for example:

  • How to exchange information and documents
  • Hardware and software needs of team members (e-mail, fax, telephone, video, and so on)
  • How information and documents will be stored (team Web site, shared files, or other)
  • When to mark e-mail messages and other documents "urgent", "important", or the like
  • Acquisition of new technology (for example, groupware, electronic meeting systems)
  • Review of compatibility issues (MAC or PC, word-processing applications, Internet providers)

Managing issues in a virtual team

Building on the previous session, this section opens by examining how participants currently surface and respond to their issues, and shows that having an issue is not the problem - the problem arises from how we deal with it.

Practical tools, processes and tips are provided on how to create a team culture where issues will be readily surfaced with the team and resolved by the team with everyone feeling informed and able to contribute.

How to make the best use of the technology we need

With the team clear on the primary means of contact this practical session is about practicing how to make best use of the technologies, fast tracking discovery of the pitfalls and acquiring great tips.

The Effective Telephone Conversation:

As using a telephone is one of the most common forms of communication and the ability to use a telephone effectively is often assumed. The differences between the social and professional call are closely studied.

That Dreaded Conference Call:

Participants relive the horrors and pitfalls of the unmanaged conference call, before learning techniques and tools for making these effective teamworking sessions that keep everyone engaged and contributing

Making Video Conferences Work:

Like audio conferences it is a teamworking skill to be acquired, with ground rules and agreements to be reached. Participants are equipped with the skills and insights to make video conferencing work.

The Laws of Email:

Huge pitfalls await the un-prepared but enthusiastic email user and huge issues can be created when communicating across boundaries be they local or international. Understanding & setting up netiquette is essential.

Getting the team operating principles right

What are the operating principles that this team feels will help keep them cohesive and productive? For example no debating by email. A simple, effective and easy to apply principle that can save hours, relationships and yes dollars. There are many more tips where this came from along with advice & guidance on how to set it all up.

Our stakeholders and customers - who are they?

This session ensures that a common understanding exists of who the teams' stakeholders and customers are before confirming that they have been identified and putting plans in place for ongoing identification. The team then work through early actions required with each person/group and agree tactics and ownership.

Creating a plan of action

The team are guided in how to create a plan that is practical, owned and accounts for the realities the team will face when they return to their local sites and try to implement it.

Doing the work

So how can a virtual team share and build on ideas, assign work, understand progress, monitor and measure, keep seeing the big picture, rapidly identify when things are not going to plan.

A fast moving series of practical session that gets to grips with how to organize and progress the work and the principles for when work can be done by individuals, subgroups and the complete team.

Reviewing our progress

The team determines their measures for success and how they will monitor and review progress, so they can keep in control and are not surprised pleasantly or otherwise!

Okay, so where are we now?

The team review the event, lessons learnt, summarise next steps and ensure all commitments made are recorded and owned.