We Asked the Project Management Community: What's the Secret to Keeping Virtual Teams Engaged?
We asked the project management community: What's the secret to keeping virtual teams engaged?
“We have weekly ‘positivity meetings’ using video conferencing. It's a bit like a chat in the kitchen at the office—no work talk and only positives allowed. Sometimes we share a joke, a funny GIF, some yoga or mindfulness activities. These meetings help our remote team members feel connected. They allow our team to connect on a personal level.”
—Laura Handley, business development lead, RedWizard, Scarborough, England
“A big challenge with virtual teams is ensuring engagement and buy-in. Virtual team members will do the job because it's there to do, but there's a divide between the connection you have being co-located versus being entirely remote. To get real traction and effort, I'll meet with some virtual team members one-on-one to clearly correlate the work they do rolled up to the overall project goals. Telling someone what they do really matters supports their sense of self. And showing them exactly how it fits into the greater whole supports their sense of belonging to the team.”
—Mark Dabney, senior manager, revenue cycle analytics, Kaiser Permanente, Rockville, Maryland, USA
When preparing for a performance review, what steps do you take to measure and show your value?
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“I try to challenge virtual team members in every project we have—changing roles, giving new responsibilities and asking for feed-back on projects and the way they were done. This way, they feel they are part of the general development of the company and its products. For example, I initiate regular surveys between the members of the team and their local team leader to get an inside view when I'm not there. Questions are about the tasks they perform. Via their answers, they can demonstrate their creative thinking on project-based decisions and help determine how they would improve our processes and communication.”
—Stanimir Sotirov, director of operations, Visrez, Dublin, Ireland
FROM THE START
“You need to start with proper onboarding that makes virtual employees feel like they're part of the real team. It means providing information about the company's structures and culture. I do the same for each project, explaining all aspects of it. For me, virtual people aren't just delivering tasks—they're part of the team. When people see it and feel it, they slowly become a real team. Of course, it requires the project manager to constantly facilitate team engagement and approach it just as they would with a nonvirtual team.”
—Artur Gula, CAPM, PMI-ACP, IT project coordinator, Euvic, Katowice, Poland
“Coming up with a useful exercise to encourage collaboration can be challenging with virtual teams. I suggest using a multiplayer online game, such as a strategy or puzzle-solving platform, as one way to start to build that muscle memory of engagement, regardless of where team members are located.”
—Kiron D. Bondale, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMP, senior consultant, WCP Consulting Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Virtual teams face real challenges. Executives find a few problems in particular to be very challenging for their teams:
How often does your virtual team meet in person?
Source: 2018 Trends in High-Performing Global Virtual Teams, RW3 CultureWizard, 2018