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Trust with virtual teams

From: Building Trust

Video: Trust with virtual teams

A team of four people work in the same building. Take those same four people, spread them around the Suddenly, these same four trustworthy and trusting But virtual teaming is the reality of our future.

Trust with virtual teams

A team of four people work in the same building. In fact, their offices are so close to one another, that they sometimes just holler a question at someone rather than walking over or emailing. They have tons of informal, casual contact points everyday. They see pictures on one another's desks and they know about each others weekend plans. They know one another. And that helps them trust one another. Take those same four people, spread them around the world, put them in different time zones, limit their synchronous conversation to once a week or so and their face-to-face meetings to once a year, if ever.

Suddenly, these same four trustworthy and trusting teammates may begin to doubt one another. They questions motives, they argue over silly misunderstandings, there is no way around it. Trust is easier close up. Trust needs touch. But virtual teaming is the reality of our future. For many of us, it's our reality now. So our goal is to create high touch trust effects even from afar. In a moment you'll see team leader Milo and his virtual team.

Demonstrate the top 10 tips for virtual trust building. As I introduce these ideas, consider which of these 10 tips could help your virtual team build more trust. Communicate a variety of topics. Share time-zone burden. Standardize communication procedures. Create virtual team space for project and social documents. Clarify goals, roles, and expectations. Be a connector. Rotate power. Communicate frequently.

select appropriate communication channel. Be reliable. Do what you say you will do. Watch as Milo and his team use these ten tips in their meeting. Hey, how are you? I saw that picture, you posted of your new dog. He's, he's adorable. What kind is he? >> He's just a mutt really, but he's so smart. >> LAUGH Area, are you talking about me again? >> LAUGH >> A smart mind, huh? >> Well, okay maybe it's not me. Hey everybody, Lew here. Whose all on? Hey Lew we're all here. How you doing? Oh, I'm all right.

A little sleepy. Yeah, I'm sorry about the time. What time is it for you, it's like 3 in the morning I think? 3 a.m. That's all right. You guys we up at the wee hour for our call last week so I'll take my turn. Besides, Beijing is worth it and I've had some great meals. Yeah, oh that reminds me Reggie you should tell Lou about the name of that cafe that you told me all about that you really liked. >> Oh man that was so good. Yeah that was a little hole in the wall I'll have to send it to you. >> Cool thanks. >> Cool well I guess we should get started. As we discussed Aria is taking the lead on the next couple of weeks as we crank through the operation strategy.

Since she has such a great track record with that. Ari do you want to hop in, tell us more. >> Sure. Thanks, Milo. Reggie, I got your email with those inventory numbers, and I've plugged them into an Excel sheet called inventory. What we need to decide is. Okay eyes, great work. That was the last item on our agenda. Before we log off here, let me just check that I have written down who is doing what by when. >> Milo, Reggie, Lou and Aria demonstrated some of the best trust building tactics of a virtual team. First, they communicated about a broad variety of topics to build trust.

We may not have a water cooler to chat around, but some small talk still goes a long way. Milo encouraged small talk as people logged in for the meeting. They shared the time zone burden. The team's standardized dial-in numbers, meeting times, follow-up processes. Predictability is a form of trust. So, have predictable communication. I served on a virtual team once where we changed which call in number to use all the time. So, people were always confused, late for meetings, and, sometimes, even missed meetings, because we didn't have the right instructions.

In addition to your virtual space for project-related documents, create some space for the fun, personal stuff. Have a cut and paste team photo. Created from individual candid shots. Have a fun fact sheet about each team member that they complete when you first start working together. Consider having a private chatroom of sorts to also replace those water cooler conversations. In face to face teams we have lots of opportunities to clarify roles and expectations.

We see and hear what others are working on, so we know if there's some overlap in our work. In virtual teams, we must work much harder to clarify goals and expectations. When the goals are clear, we won't feel upset or disappointed later. Did you notice how Aria ended the meeting by making sure everyone was clear on next steps? Be a connector for individuals on your virtual team. When Milo connected Reggie and Lou over a restaurant passion, the two of them began to build their interpersonal relationship, which leads to trust.

Share and rotate power. A team leader who facilitates every meeting, breaks tie vote, has power most of the time; it's pretty common in a face to face team. But virtual teams are vastly different in this respect, be willing to ask different people to take the reins for different parts of the project. Frequent communication is obviously important, but it isn't as natural or as automatic when operating virtually. So you might need to put it on your to do list.

Have you checked in with everyone on the team, at least a couple of times each week. Select appropriate communications channels. Virtual teams can tap into video conferences, emails, teleconferences, an entire range of communication channels exist, we want to match the right channel to the right conversation. If an agenda includes items with lots of differing opinions or the potential for conflict. We need a more information rich media source like video conference, or maybe for that agenda you just wait until the next face to face meeting.

Pick your channel carefully, and finally be reliable. While most research says that trust is harder to build virtually, a few studies argue that it isn't necessarily harder. It's just different. In virtual settings, reliability, that is doing what you say you will do, weighs far more than any other trust building predictor. Tell virtual teammates this little known fact and make sure you are on time for the meetings, that you respond quickly to communication from your teammates.

In other words make sure you follow through, do what you say you will do. In a virtual world, our word is all we have. Make sure we're true to that word. If you are part of a virtual team. Check out the trust building action plan. And note which of these ten tips your virtual team already practices. Which one's should your team practice. Try some of the suggestions and watch the trust grow on your virtual team. As the trust grows, so will the team performance.

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Building Trust

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Brenda Bailey-Hughes
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