« When Does A Strategy Confuse Action? | Main | Priscilla Palmer and Personal Development Experts »


Karin H.

Hi Steve

The only experience I have with 'virtual' teams is two recent 'projects' - both went well, but nonetheless I did learn that the most important issue with this is to set the expectations right from day one on.
Expectations as in: who does what, when and why. Expectations as in: does everyone react with the same urgency you want them to have - or do you have to adjust to their 'characteristics'.
If you don't set the 'basic' expectations right things can get pretty frustrating ;-)

(In this case I had to adjust my eagerness, urgency to the speed and good of the others, no harm done - no ego's bruised, just excellent results through a virtual team.)

Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

Jim Stroup

Thanks, Steve, for opening a topic of growing importance.

I think your client has important points in mind regarding this. There may be a sort of fear of letting go of traditional methods, there, but there is some validity to the fear. We often forget that collaboration doesn't mean only communication - it is only effective when relationships can be created and maintained as a basis for mutual understanding and trust. This can be difficult to do - or perpetuate - in a strictly virtual environment.

Keeping expectations clear is vital - but maintaining a mutual interpretation of them can be difficult to do in a solely virtual world where we think we're talking to each other, and only find out too late that we're talking past each other - this is enough of a danger in the real world.

The requirements will vary by project and team, but there often must be a combination of real and virtual contact in our project teams. Modern teleconferencing techniques are helping to close this gap. But they still lack the informal confidence-building and mutual understanding that some collaborative projects require, and that can only be developed on a real, personal relationship.

Thanks for a great topic!

Steve Roesler

Thanks for the quick response, Karin.

Clear expectations certainly would seem to be an extra-sensitive issue in this case.

It sounds as if your enthusiasm played a role in the communication as well. That's an interesting factor, since our own commitment and energy feels very positive yet can impact other people negatively without the necessary "up-front" understanding.

I'd enjoy hearing even more if you get the chance...this is something that "simply" isn't going away.

Steve Roesler

Hello, Jim,

Your comment regarding the legitimacy of the fear of letting go is re-assuring. To me, it doesn't reflect a sign of weakness or aversion to the medium.

This manager is very experienced and understands the importance of trust in relationships, how it's developed, and how easy it is to lose in the blink of a binary eye.

I think you've hit at the core of the issue: the right combination of virtual and real contact. Perhaps Karin's comment comes into play here. The team needs to discuss at the outset what combination of the two is going to get the job done in a way that keeps the team members functioning at their peak.

As always, thanks for bumping it up a notch.

Karin H.

Hi Steve

Wish some things were indeed "simple" ;-)

Combining items would be a good way forward (linking into Jim's reply and ideas). Like using other semi virtual tools - Skype with webcam comes to mind.

Virtual teams IMHO should start as any project should start: schedule, tasks, tools, time limits etc.

It is getting used to the new 'project-tools' that'll give the most hiccup first, but we all love to learn, not? ;-)

Karin H.

Steve Roesler


I won't be surprised if I see you doing a workshop on Keep It Virtually Simple, Sweetheart...(although the acronym isn't very appealing).

The idea of small steps and semi-familiar technology makes a lot of sense vs. jumping into a total change.

Thanks again, K...

Jim Stroup

I thought I'd jump back in here and note that I fully agree with Karin's emphasis on establishing expectations carefully up front - and monitoring their realization. This is especially important when collaborating in a virtual environment, but, of course, that's why Karin was emphasizing it, I think. In real-world contact, there are more cues and opportunities to note them, that might enable us to steer a project back onto the road before it winds up a total loss in the ditch. So, in a virtual world we need to pay conscious attention to this.

My only humble addition is that this is greatly eased when we use virtual project teams to expand the reach of our relationships, or use periodic real-world contact to ground the ambitions of our virtual teams.

As always, Steve, thanks for a great topic and great presentation of it. I look forward to Karin's workshop!

Steve Roesler


The issue of virtual teams and relationships is probably one around which to have an ongoing conversation. In fact, I just made a to-do note to that effect.

The relational issue is bigger than that which is so far portrayed (my belief from observation, experience, and knowledge of the human condition and its related behavior).

It's easy to jump on the technological bandwagon and wave the "banner of productivity". Yet, based on conversations with real live managers facing real live situations, the effectiveness of the technology and its outcomes still link closely to the trust factor.

For these managers, trust still has a connection with face-to-face relationships.

Film at 11...

working girl

I like working with people virtually and face to face - the hardest is trying to work virtually with people who are used to working face to face. Virtual work requires a certain amount ability to work independently, which not everyone is comfortable with. It also requires a bit more autonomy, which not every manager wants to give. It's only natural that people cling to their old way of working but the benefits of virtual teams will ultimately trump the preferences of individuals. I predict we'll all go virtual over the next 10 years, then realize how strange it has made us. ;-)

virtual office New York

Unlike from traditional teams, virtual teams in business have Worker talent that are not limited to one location. They also Increase in productivity, can Extend market opportunity, can Greatly reduces costs and Increased job satisfaction. Obviously Virtual teams bring many benefits in today's economy.

Tips and tools for virtual offices

Thanks for this Steve. I think the key to successfully managing remote or virtual teams is TRUST.. If you don’t have trust among members of your virtual team, you need to learn how to develop it, and fast. Without trust, teams are less open in communication, less creative, and are less productive.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Steve Roesler, Principal & Founder
The Steve Roesler Group
Office: 609.654.7376
Mobile: 856.275.4002

Enter your name and email address to receive your copy of my coaching eGuide.

Human Resources Today
Business Blogs



  • View Steve Roesler's profile on LinkedIn
Personal Growth from SelfGrowth.com

Get Updates via RSS Feed

  • Enter your email address in the yellow box for FREE daily updates

    Powered by FeedBlitz

Awards & Recognition...

  • Career 100
Alltop, all the top stories