How to build trust in virtual teams [Book Review & Tips]
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Trust is important because it builds a team that is resilient.
Trust is key to getting things done. Trusted team members do more than what is asked. They also do what the project requires them to do because they know that the manager will trust their decisions.
Trust is the key to better working relationships and better project results.
This is the premise of Thomas P. Wise’s book Trust in Virtual Teams. It is a guide for understanding trust and building trust within virtual teams. First, you need to understand what a virtual group is.
Wise believes that virtual teams have been defined traditionally by distance. Wise suggests that a geographical definition of virtual teams is an outdated way to explain the existence of virtuality in a team environment.
Most likely, you have worked in an office where project members are literally next to each other emailing one another. The use of electronic communication allows them to be based thousands miles away. Their working environment and style make them part of a virtual group, regardless of where they are located.
This was for me the most important revelation in the book. I used to think of virtual teams as being distributed across multiple locations. But the modern way of working actually means that most people are part of virtual team, even if they are located in an office.
Next: Tips for effective virtual meetings
Trust was built in the past through small conversations and sharing of confidence. It is knowing that your colleague will make your tea exactly how you like it.
Virtual teams don’t have the same interaction as colocated teams. How can you build trust when you don’t get to talk to your colleagues or have days of silence between emails?
Wise says, “Team members learn trust among themselves as they work together.” Wise talks about team members having a sense of connectedness that allows them to work together effectively.
You may find that trust in virtual teams is based on stereotypes.
Wise warns against conforming to stereotypes as it can lead to a loss of trust. This is a good long-term strategy to get your team to trust you. However, I am not sure. It would be interesting to explore this further.
He also suggests that there are other things you can do to build trust.
Working from facts (not opinions).
Also, if you claim that your project report will be out every Friday at 3pm then it will. Make sure it is factual and not opinion.
It’s also a great way to build relationships through fun activities, such as a virtual scavenger hunting for teams.
More ideas!Team Engagement Tactics$7.00Step-by-step instruction guide and training videos on two different ways to engage and have fun with your team! Learn how to create a team map and how to set up an internet countdown calendar.
Buy Now Dealing with Problems
Wise writes that a problem can arise when we create a set of rules for how work is done and then have a tendency toward stretching and bending the rules based upon unpublished pecking order and hierarchies.
This is what happens when you act impulsively and not on the basis of facts. This could be seen in a project environment when document version control is not necessary. It doesn’t add any value and helps meet the project deadlines.
Wise suggests a way around this: “We must align the goals, our rules and our actions to create an environment that can foster and sustain institutional trust.”
He recommends that you do this through Quality Assurance on Projects (which is discussed in depth) and transparent reporting.
Techniques to increase success in virtual teams