Weekly L&D Roundup: Virtual Team Building for Success

TrainingPros Blog Weekly L&D Roundup: Effective Virtual Teams

Virtual teams are becoming the norm. Necessitating the need for virtual team building. As more and more companies redefine the workplace, this trend isn’t going to suddenly stop. In a post-pandemic world, companies are signaling they aren’t going to flip a switch and return to the days of everyone sitting around an office. If nothing else, the pandemic has proven remote teams can be as effective as in-person teams.

Each week our editorial team scours the internet in search of the latest and most relevant content from learning and development (L&D) thought leaders. In this edition of the Weekly L&D Roundup, we are focusing on the keys to successfully building a virtual team.

Here is what you need to know…

Build Relationships Within Virtual Teams

Working virtually has a lot of pros and cons. On the positive side, improving work/life balance and gaining lost time from commuting every day. On the other hand, lack of direct human interaction and staring at a computer screen for hours can lead to feeling isolated. Consequently, this disconnect from coworkers and peers can make it difficult to build cohesion and collaboration within a virtual team.

Why you should read? There are a lot of benefits to working remotely. However, being part of a virtual team comes with challenges. Many of which can be overcome by taking the time to get to know one another.

Terri Klass, a leadership skills coach and trainer, has worked for several decades helping organizations develop dynamic leaders and retain top talent. In a recent article on her blog, she outlines five key reasons virtual team building is so important.

Starting each meeting off with a question, leaders can gain invaluable insight into how their employees feel and their motivations. Through their answers, virtual team members get a better understanding of one another. This deeper connection with their team leads to:

  1. Stronger relationships and a sense of community
  2. Identification of team members’ strengths and weaknesses
  3. Improvement of the overall workflow
  4. Free flow of ideas and innovation
  5. A more cohesive, connected virtual team

Overall, Klass stresses the need to break down barriers when team building. “Prioritizing people over projects is the secret sauce to growing a team,” she states.

"Prioritizing people over projects is the secret sauce to growing a team." - Terri Klass Click to Tweet

As someone who leads several virtual teams, I agree with Klass’s view and believe trust is at the core of productive virtual teams. Leaders trusting their members. Members trusting their leaders. Simply trusting one another.

Ultimately, gaining someone’s confidence can be a lot easier when you are more familiar with them. Therefore helping your teams build camaraderie is a powerful step toward success.

Read Full Article: The Power of Getting to Know Your Team Members, Terri Klass Consulting Blog

Enable Knowledge Sharing Through Trust

In our next roundup, sensemaking improvement consultant Harold Jarche delves deeper into the need for peers to establish trust before knowledge sharing can occur. Within teams, fear and competition can lead to mistrust and people hoarding critical knowledge. When this occurs, job continuity can suffer whenever someone leaves a team. Therefore, missing or inaccessible knowledge silos can become very costly to an organization.

Why you should read? The success of any team is predicated on the sum of its parts. Therefore, if certain team members are lacking the trust to freely share knowledge, the team is more likely to fail.

Jarche deftly observes, “When trust is lost, knowledge fails to flow. When knowledge flow is stemmed, trust is lost.” In other words, building trust and ensuring free-flowing knowledge within teams are directly related. You cannot have one without the other.

"When trust is lost, knowledge fails to flow. When knowledge flow is stemmed, trust is lost." - Harold Jarche Click to Tweet

For trust to grow organizationally, “First we create open structures, more networked than hierarchical,” explains Jarche. We need to create transparency by removing roadblocks so diversity within teams and ideas can become the norm. Ultimately, a sense of trust and openness will develop.

Read Full Article: Trust Emerges Over Time, Harold Jarche Blog

Ensure Virtual Team Meetings Are Inclusive

Our final roundup this week focuses on how to ensure inclusion and fairness during virtual meetings. Shelly Immel, owner and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Obsidian Learning, explains how L&D professionals can accomplish this by applying their skills when organizing remote meetings.

Why you should read? Team meetings can quickly become one sided affairs dominated by one or two voices. Allowing this type of scene to play out will more than likely alienate and sideline some members of your virtual team. That is why, as a team leader, you are responsible for fostering an equitable dialogue where member feels they have a voice.

One of the first steps in learning development is defining the objectives and desired outcomes. By applying this process when planning your next virtual team meeting, you can make everyone feel included and valued. Specifically, Immel explains there are four key areas we should concentrate on:

  1. Ensuring everyone has equal time to speak.
  2. Distributing authority by changing people’s roles from meeting to meeting
  3. Creating activities with clear instructions, roles, and time limits
  4. Developing “mini-scripts” to alleviate fears and encourage discussion

Immel offers some great examples in each of these areas. While some of her ideas are better suited for larger teams, many can be adapted to building and managing virtual teams of all sizes.

Read Full Article: How To Structure Virtual Team Meetings For Inclusion And Equity

Final Thoughts

Virtual team building is not some new concept or trend in the workplace. On the contrary, it has become a necessary skill L&D leaders need to successfully manage their employees.

By building trust, modeling fairness, and encouraging everyone to freely share their thoughts and ideas, you can establish a culture where everyone can prosper. As a result, each member of your team will feel safe and valued.

Until next week’s roundup, now you know what you need to know…

Do you manage or are you a member of a virtual team? What are some of the things you or your team do for team building? What you know matters, share your thoughts with me!

Patrick Owens

Patrick Owens

Patrick Owens has over 30 years of experience in the adult learning and technical communication space. His favorite day of the week is Tuesday and has deemed it a special time for tacos. Always looking for adventure Patrick uses his downtime to explore and create. In addition to being the father of 5 year old twin boys, he is currently the Digital Solutions Architect for TrainingPros.
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Patrick Owens has over 30 years of experience in the adult learning and technical communication space. His favorite day of the week is Tuesday and has deemed it a special time for tacos. Always looking for adventure Patrick uses his downtime to explore and create. In addition to being the father of 5 year old twin boys, he is currently the Digital Solutions Architect for TrainingPros.

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