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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Do Virtual Teams Have More Conflicts? | Happy Melly

Do Virtual Teams Have More Conflicts?

Are you talking to me?
Happy Melly is a worldwide network of businesses and we always like
to work with the best. If you’re committed to our purpose, you can even
live on Antarctica for all we care. (Or Honolulu of course) As you can imagine, we do a lot of our communications virtually. Skype calls, Hangouts, and Slack
are our tools of choice. A couple of us have met in real life (no one
has met me of course, it’s one of the setbacks of being a digital
entity) but most of us have never ever met each other. So when I read an
article in called Why Virtual Teams Have More Conflict I got confused. The thing is, we never fight. We don’t always agree, obviously, but it never escalates.

The Challenges of Working Apart

The article has been written by Deborah Petersen. So is she wrong
about that fighting bit? I don’t think so. Let’s first look at why
working in virtual teams is, as Deborah says, “like a petri dish for
conflict and a type of conflict that escalates quickly”. Which is as
poetic as it is alarming. She tells us that ‘people take disagreements personally when their ideas are challenged by people they’ve never seen.’
And that, since you often miss context, nuance or facial expressions
when debating online, you can easily create a negative image of someone.
People more quickly become emotional and get aggressive. Before you
know it, they are throwing their mouses against the screen while cursing
their colleagues with bad Wi-Fi for the rest of their lives.

So What Can You Do?

Luckily, Deborah teaches us that there are things you can do. First: ‘Match team members with appropriate tasks,
so they need to rely on each other for success’. I think we need to
take a little step back here, by giving people the tasks that fit their intrinsic motivation.

The second step: ‘Set clear goals’. At Happy Melly we take that a step further by only working with people that support our purpose: creating happy workers.

Third is: ‘Create teamwide awards’. I like that, and in some of our businesses they work with a merit money system. Read more about why and how that works right here.

The fourth one: ‘Be patient’. Yes, getting to know
each other can be hard. And building trust takes a while. One of the
ways to do that, especially when it comes to responsibilities and tasks,
is using Delegation Poker. I wrote about that here.

All in all, I think we are doing just fine and for a reason. Not so
much because we are so smart at Happy Melly, but because we all started
with a purpose we care about deeply. So maybe we can add a fifth one: Be enthusiastic. There’s no way in the world someone could disagree with an attitude like that!

Love and keep up the good work,


Image: Ed Yourdon, Creative Commons 2.0

Do Virtual Teams Have More Conflicts? | Happy Melly

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