February 26, 2015
Maintaining work relationships virtually presents unique challenges.
It’s more difficult to build trust, manage accountability and form
bonds among teams separated by physical distance. Add to that a greater
potential for miscommunication or misunderstandings, and it’s no wonder
our own research has shown one in every four virtual teams is not fully
High-performing teams are able to overcome these challenges and continually adapt to other issues as they arise.
Here are three companies that have gotten it right.
SAP holds the title
of the world’s largest inter-enterprise software company. With more
than 30,000 employees in 60 countries, virtual team collaboration is
critical to the company’s success. The company has structured itself
in a strategic way, with global headquarters in Germany and large
R&D centers in India, China, Israel and the United States. Each
center has a specific area of expertise it shares with the entire
company, which reduces costs. Managers can assemble virtual teams that include employees from each of these specialty groups, making each team more well-rounded.
SAP has also enhanced its virtual team performance by creating an ongoing team-building initiative with the help of an organizational development consulting company.
This initiative began with a training program in which teams worked
together to build a community through a blend of online learning,
conference calls, briefings, and coaching sessions.
2. IBMIBM employs more
than 200,000 people from different countries and backgrounds. One of the
major challenges within a global company of this size is managing time
Allowing people to work at the hours when they are naturally most productive can boost performance and morale. That’s why IBM reinvented itself to use a Results Oriented Work Environment
(ROWE). Employees can live where they want and work in virtual teams
based on their own schedules. What holds the workforce together is the
use of collaborative software
to help workers build trust and enhance communication among team
members. IBM uses virtual meeting software and chat tools to enable more
collaboration, even as team members work more autonomously during the
hours that work best for them.
3. General ElectricGE employs more than 90,000 employees throughout the world.
Facing the challenges of communicating effectively across a global workforce, GE invested in training its leaders and employees.
Through a virtual classroom, employees learned how to collaborate to
achieve common goals with interactive e-learning and quizzes on
foundational virtual teamwork concepts. Training was made more
interactive with virtual breakout rooms, polls, whiteboards, games and
Personal feedback helped determine strengths and weaknesses for each participant and identified ways to enhance performance.
Training programs like these can transform a workforce. GE’s virtual leaders also receive specific training that addresses cultural differences, an important aspect of effective virtual leadership training in a global setting.
Although these three global companies have developed best practices
for managing virtual teams over many years, companies of all sizes can
apply these tactics to their own teams. Training for virtual leaders and virtual team training can go a long way to bridge the gaps of distance and differing time zones.
OnPoint Consulting offers practical solutions for developing your
next leaders, including solutions specific to the challenges virtual
leaders face in the 21st Century. To learn more about our solutions for virtual leadership, contact us today.
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3 Companies With High-Performing Virtual Teams