Creating a Shared Team Culture
Let’s take a look at some of the areas where your team might identify and name a shared culture:
How do we communicate together? What are the expected tone and channels for communication? For example, overcommunication is always better than too little communication in a remote team. When we are not able to breeze past a colleague’s desk on our way to make coffee, we don’t know if they are even at their desk or how they are feeling that day, let alone what they are working on. So, many virtual teams agree to make an extra effort around communication and responsiveness to compensate for working together “blind” so much of the time.
Respect and inclusion must be central to any cultural norms around communication. Make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Cultivate a diverse team where different skills, neurotypes and viewpoints are all included in problem solving and creativity.
How do we take shared responsibility for organizing our time, resources, workflows and digital assets? Defining agreed ways of coordinating both internal and external activity and resources is especially important for virtual teams. Individuals all have preferred ways of working. Left to our own devices, we can develop into silos which lead to inefficiencies and a breakdown in communications. Taking the time to get on the same page about ways of organizing will always reap benefits over the longer term.
Self-discipline, Accountability & Recognition
In a virtual team, it is essential that members are self-starters and able to be disciplined without close management. There is a level of trust required to allow the team to operate at a distance and feel secure that each is pulling their weight and working for the success of the team as a whole. When we are accountable to each other – doing what we say we will do, asking for help when we need it, and owning our mistakes – trust is built. Recognition of each other for our successes, our consistency, and our good collaborations goes a long way to reinforce these behaviors in the team. Without recognition, even the most dedicated team members start to lose a little motivation to keep making the extra effort required to collaborate well remotely.
A virtual team will have to make lots of decisions together remotely. Having a defined process for key decision making can smooth the process and serve as an anchor when things get challenging or heated. One example is using a RACI chart or matrix to make clear who is responsible and accountable for a task, and who must be consulted when a decision is made, and who must be informed of the outcome of the decision.
Check out this short video on how to use a RACI chart or matrix (5min)