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#WFH: Who’s Responsible for Mutual Success?

Developing and supporting virtual teams re-quires a clear and mutually agreed upon set of expectations where roles and responsibilities and all the players’ needs can be addressed. Both formal and informal communication standards need to be discussed openly and honestly. To avoid mutiny, leadership and team members must truly work on trust and avoid misinterpretation. A strong effort needs to be made by all parties, management and team members to connect. This will help set up performance management approaches that really work. Learning and development for virtual team members should include coaching skills, emotion-al intelligence and social interactions, technology, listening and relationship building. Communication needs to be multifaceted and address the individual as well as the business.

The virtual workplace is not about the technology, it never has been and it never will be. It is all about the people. People are supported by the technology and by other people. People feel secure and work effectively when they trust in each other and they trust in leadership. Training and development in the virtual workplace is challenging but necessary to assure organizational competencies and optimal performance. It is essential that leaders in the virtual workplace understand how to agree upon, establish, and measure mutually agreed upon success. Technology, although necessary, should be so accessible and usable that they become transparent to effectively getting the job done.

Case in Point: Style and Trends, Inc.

Joe Conner, the CEO at Styles and Trends, Inc., an upscale fashion magazine published monthly, had been hearing complaints about Catrina, a member of the executive team, for quite a while. He knew he had to do something because people were leaving the company. Good people. Catrina’s direct reports thought she was too concerned with what Joe thought about her and not nearly concerned enough about them. They felt abandoned and isolated. Most of the complaints centered around Catrina blaming them when things went wrong and taking credit when things went right. The workers felt abandoned and unable to be heard. To make matters worse, Catrina was in the home office and most of the workers were remote.

  1. What kind of policies might help in this situation? What can Joe do and what can Catrina do to turn the situation around?
  2. Who is responsible for mutual success in this situation? How does communication play a part? How might judgement, trust and fear play into it?
  3. What do you need to do to build a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm? How might the group address poor performance and attitudes?
  4. Have you seen evidence of a similar situation? How was it or might it be resolved?
  5. What policies and guidelines do you need to put into place to manage a virtual workforce: Eligibility, Office Setup, Schedules, Evaluations, Reimbursement for Expenses?

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