As a leader of a virtual team where my employees and contractors are located across 2-3 different countries and continents around the world, I can incorporate activities to help build bridges and increase trust, care, and respect between my team members despite geographic barriers. To truly come together as a team, a group of individuals needs a performance challenge.
The goals a team will accomplish together are directly related to the amount of discipline on the team. Successful teams dedicate time and enthusiasm.
Slack as a Team Building Tool
I can design a fun, exciting performance challenge in the form of a team-building activity utilizing modern remote collaboration software, such as Slack. By bringing my personal energy and enthusiasm, and by adding desirable prizes or games where the budget allows, I can create activities where high-performance teams have a specific, clear purpose that is distinguishable from the overall organization.
Leadership Skills for Remote, Dispersed Teams
Personality types are important to consider, yet not as important as having the right mix of skills on a team. Therefore, as a leader, I must understand the strengths and weaknesses of myself as well as my team. I need to know how to support each personality type as well as the unique blend of skills that each person brings to the table.
In a high-performance team, there is a level of care, trust, respect, and clear, frequent communication. Teams typically work best when they feel they can depend upon their leaders to create clear standards and support them through each process.
It is important that the team leader doesn’t allow the team to get stuck at the bottom of the J-shaped curve. Instead, keep the team moving towards success by:
- Incorporating performance challenges
- Asking what it will take to achieve significant performance results
- Having mutual accountability
- Driving the team towards collective performance together as a group.
Examples of Virtual Team Building Activities
An easy team-building activity for virtual teams is an online video game tournament through a service such as STEAM. I have had a lot of luck with this approach in previous projects for learners of all ages. For example, a quick and simple game like Rocket League could allow the team to work together in a fun way virtually while accomplishing light-hearted goals and building relationships that may carry over into their working relationships as well.
Whenever possible, use Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts to incorporate face-to-face communication even if actual in-person communication is not possible.
If budget allows, consider leading a physical team building retreat that team members can travel to, so the team has the opportunity to meet up in person. Also incorporate a hybrid element, so that team members who are unable to physically travel may still participate virtually.
Maintaining Momentum While Working Virtually
As a leader, I encourage communication through daily check-ins in a tool such as Slack or Asana. I’m also available via email or for 1:1 Zoom, Skype, or Google meetings as needed. In larger environments, Slack can incorporate automated virtual check-ins at the start, middle, and end of each day, allowing a quick “temperature check” for the team.
In remote environments, it’s also important to maintain pre-scheduled team meetings and one-on-one check-ins with individuals to allow for more frequent communication as needed. Conversations need not just be limited to work; to build morale, rapport, and camaraderie in a dispersed, fully remote team environment, it’s also crucial to save time for discussing other exciting happenings in each person’s life, helping the team feel more connected, improving the sense of belonging, and caring for each other.