As Stanford professor Margaret Neale has said, many organizations create virtual teams with almost no understanding of the implications of doing so.
Virtual teams and work-at-home policies are implemented, and teams are left to figure things out on their own.
Fortunately, some great resources can help leaders form a solid blueprint for building successful virtual teams.
Here are five that every leader of virtual teams should read, whether they are just building the foundation for a new team or have been leading one for years.
1. Culture Clash 2: Managing the Global High-Performance Team
Few leaders are prepared to manage virtual teams across cultures, and as author Thomas Zweifel points out, the costs of cultural blind spots can be high, resulting in everything from lawsuits to lost opportunities. Zweifel, who has lived on four continents, details the methodology he has developed for managing teams with cultural differences.
His tactics and recommendations are more relevant than ever in this era of global commerce. Culture Clash 2 is not merely a book of protocols; it is designed to help managers see the world from their counterpart’s point of view.
2. The Remote Worker’s Guide to Excellence
More companies are offering employees the option to work remotely, and many are even adopting remote workplace policies out of necessity. Not every employee can easily adapt to working remotely, however. The Remote Worker’s Guide to Excellence, by Eryck K. Dzotsi, is an essential resource for everyone who works from a distance, whether full time or part time. It offers employees advice on staying motivated, managing their time and working effectively with others.
Written by a seasoned veteran of the remote workforce, this quick read is designed to help anyone navigate a virtual work environment with ease.
3. The Collaborative Organization: A Strategic Guide to Solving Your Internal Business Challenges Using Emerging Social and Collaborative Tools
To thrive in today’s business environment, companies must embrace collaborative technologies and processes. That starts by getting employees on board and in alignment. In The Collaborative Organization, author Jacob Morgan offers insight and recommendations into the best ways to do that. The book is a blueprint to setting up virtual teams for success from the beginning. Morgan discusses how to choose the right software and technologies for your company’s needs, how to ensure employees use it properly to collaborate, and how to measure and sustain performance.
It features examples from some of the world’s most successful companies, including Children’s Hospital, the U.S. Department of State, UPS, Vanguard and Pabst Brewing Co.
4. Influencing Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Get Things Done With Your Remote Employees
Managing accountability is difficult enough when your team is all located under the same roof. It’s even more difficult to hold employees accountable when you don’t see them face-to-face.
Fortunately, virtual leaders can take simple steps to make sure things get done. For instance, did you know using a single word increases the likelihood that employees will comply? How to write a subject line that will ensure a response? What to do before, during and after meetings to ensure employees follow through? How to leave the perfect voicemail?
It’s all covered in Hassan Osman’s book, Influencing Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Get Things Done With Your Remote Employees.
The book, Amazon’s No. 1 best-seller in the category of office management, is a tactical guide to earning a team’s trust, delegating responsibilities and following up effectively.
It should be on every virtual leader’s reading list.
5. Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading From a Distance
Although books on virtual team building and virtual leadership are plentiful, books that include original research on the topic are harder to find. OnPoint Consulting President Rick Lepsinger and I began researching this topic with two goals in mind: To discover what the most successful virtual teams have in common, and share best practices other organizations can adopt to enhance their own performance.
This book, Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading From a Distance, is the result of our research on 48 virtual teams at companies across a variety of industries. Companies included Kraft, Merck, Deloitte, Verizon Wireless and more.
We uncovered some interesting findings about everything from how top-performing virtual teams are structured to how they communicate and how often they meet.
Taking the Next Step
Our book and the others mentioned serve as useful blueprints for setting up virtual teams for success and sustaining momentum over time.
Implementing the right technology and processes can go a long way to ensure success. Virtual team training can also help bring teams up to speed. OnPoint offers training on a variety of topics, from building trust within teams to managing conflict and accountability.
Training is available in a variety of formats, including 90-minute instructor-led online programs or 30-minute self-directed e-learning programs. To learn how your team can accelerate performance with training, take a look at our program guide.