Thursday, September 24, 2009

Virtual Productivity Destructors

VitalSmarts and the authors of Crucial Conversations recently completed a survey about workplace problems. According to the research, 13 out of 14 common relationship problems occur far more frequently in virtual teams than in co-located teams. Problems with remote colleagues are more difficult to solve, and they last longer. Common strategies for dealing with difficult remote relationships are:

Screening telephone calls
Not returning calls or e-mails
Leaving challenging people out of the loop on decisions
Avoiding working with certain people

And those are the "nice" strategies.

As the authors of the study point out, the solution isn't co-location, but communication, and they give 5 important tips:

Talk before problems start - establish ground rules for handling future difficulties
Praise early wins - acknowledge individual successes
Never raise individual concerns publicly - keep it one-to-one
Start by clarifying what you DON'T want say - point out any possible misinterpretations of what you want to talk about
Gain allies before raising problems with a group - air your concerns with others beforehand and ask for help in having a productive dialogue