It is a well-known fact that establishing effective collaboration in remote teams requires considerable patience, learning, and experience. Members of the team also have responsibilities and contributions to make in regard to establishing effective virtual collaboration in a remote team. In order to develop deeper relationships with other members in a remote team, consider the following.

Assume responsibility for developing and maintaining relationships

Share as much information and experiences with other team members as you feel comfortable doing in order to allow others to understand who you are. Understanding the lens one uses to view the world can make it much easier to accept differences in opinion.

Keep the lines of communication open to deal with conflict effectively

Usually conflicts related to the team’s tasks can be resolved more easily and with less dysfunctional behavior than those that arise of a personal nature. However, it is the formation of a personal relationship that drives the ability to trust in another even though these relationships usually have some level of conflict. Balancing the more impersonal focus on task with the personal focus on relationships can be difficult but is an essential group process skill in achieving effective collaboration.

Developing shared understanding among the members:

Assume ownership for team goals – It is important that every member assume responsibility for the goals of the team as a whole and not just for their own contribution. In order to do this, a shared understanding of the ultimate team goals and how each member is expected to achieve them is essential.

Problem-solve internally when possible – Team members should look initially to the team when trying to resolve issues rather than try to handle them alone or seek assistance outside the team. Because the majority of virtual teams in existence today are project based and composed of members from different functional backgrounds (that is, R&D, marketing, sales, and finance), a tendency may emerge to discard problems in an area of expertise outside one’s own as “not my problem.” When this occurs, the team’s ability to collaborate is negatively affected, which could create an undesirable domino effect for performance and innovation.

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Understand team member roles- All members should take responsibility for knowing what role every other member of the team is to assume and the expertise they possess that will help them accomplish their goals as well as ways in which each can support the other members of the team.

Building trust amongst team members

Be proactive in seeking a trusting relationship A team member who does not have enough information to develop trust with the other team members should talk to others who may have worked with them previously or are at least aware of their work habits and level of competency.

Keep promises – Team members can help build and maintain others’ trust by fulfilling all commitments and promises made to the team and by meeting all deadlines imposed by the organization.

Check in regularly – Team members can be responsive to the others by communicating on a regular basis, even if just to check in. Knowing you are there to support them will help to give you credibility as a team member. In addition, everyone should respond to requests and inquiries from other team members in a timely fashion. Avoid ignoring communications or assuming that the other party will know you received, read, and understood it. Be responsive.

The end goal of collaboration is a result of positive synergy that encourages a win-win relationship among the members. Remote teams are more dynamic and complex than more traditional teams. They require members to be more adept at working with individuals from cultures other than their own.

Jappreet Sethi

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