Why Virtual Teams Fail | OnPoint Consulting llc
Why Virtual Teams Fail
But why are so many virtual teams falling to meet performance expectations? To answer this question, we asked hundreds of virtual team members and leaders to select the top three challenges that hinder their teams’ performance. Here’s what we found.
Lack of face-to-face contact was cited as the top challenge. However, we did find that lack of face-to-face contact was less of an issue for teams that had an initial face-to-face meeting within the first 30-90 days of working virtually together. Overall, these teams were more effective than teams that never met up front.
Communication was a close second. Many people reported that members of their teams changed monthly and having team members that are here today and gone tomorrow makes it difficult to find the most effective ways to communicate with one another and to build relationships effectively.
Large teams of people with unclear roles was also seen as a key challenge. Add to the frequent change in team members the fact that often people are invited to be on a given team solely because of political reasons, not because they are meant to contribute in a specific way and what we found is that many organizations ended up with large teams of people whose roles are unclear.
Given the importance of virtual teamwork, we were surprised by how many teams are ineffective. But what was most startling is that many companies either do not realize that their teams are underperforming, or despite their investments in these teams, do not take the time to focus on enhancing their effectiveness. The good news is that there are numerous strategies that organizations and team leaders can employ that will improve the performance of their virtual teams.
For more information on why virtual teams fail and tips for how to enhance virtual team performance click here to buy a copy of Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide to Working and Leading From a Distance by Darleen DeRosa and Richard Lepsinger
Are the virtual teams you work on meeting performance expectations? What tips and actions have you found enhance performance?
One Response to “Why Virtual Teams Fail”
Kevan Hall says:
The fundamental problem is that people haven’t updated their skills to cope with an environment where communication through technology, higher levels of change and ambiguity are the norm.
An example is teamwork. In face-to-face teams, teamwork is inexpensive and, even if it is badly organised (most meetings are only about 50% relevant to participants), it is soon over.
In virtual teams, particularly ones that operate internationally, teamwork has become much more complex and expensive – so we should use it more sparingly. Quite often unskilled virtual team leaders insist on regular and pointless information exchanges, activity, reviews and teamwork for its own sake.
Experienced virtual team leaders learn to focus their scarce synchronous time on issues that are really relevant to the whole team and require tradition team work. Most other activities can be handled through one to one contact which is much easier to schedule and manage.
Without the skills update virtual team leaders can work hard to implement solutions from a simpler past that are actually counter-productive.