If you drive to work every day, park in your parking space and take the elevator to the floor where your team and desk reside, you still can't hide from virtual. I'd wager that even when you are sitting with your team, you are on a few other collaboration teams where you meet virtually. I would also make a wager and say that more than 50% of your meetings are held virtually. As I travel and work with client’s teams, I'm consistently getting more and more questions about virtual meetings and collaboration. More specifically I get questions about leading virtual meetings, being a participant in virtual meetings and presenting virtually. Fortunately, I write about and have delivered a few webinars covering these topics....
Insights for Working Virtually
This blog is for anyone who communicates in-person or virtually in the business world.
We Know There Are Bad Virtual Meetings
If I were to ask you to raise your hand if you have ever attended a bad virtual meeting, I'm certain that it would be a majority. If you've read my articles, you know that I harp on the importance of leaders taking responsibility to run an engaging virtual meeting that accomplishes the intended results. I still believe that the leader carries this responsibility to lead differently in the virtual workspace. What I also believe is that the participants of the meeting bear a responsibility as well. The next time you gripe about a bad meeting, I want you to ask yourself what you did to help make it better. Did you apply some self-leadership to help right the ship or did you let it sink while increasing your multi-tasking as you stayed on mute? It's that old adage, “If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” As our workplace becomes increasingly more virtual, it will be up to all team members to contribute in making the virtual workplace experience valuable and productive. If participants of meetings fail to take responsibility for their experience, remote and virtual teams may begin to disappear along with the flexible lifestyle that they provide team members. The bottom line is that bad virtual meetings threaten the existence of virtual teams.
The Virtual Path Is More Difficult
Anyone knows that walking a greenway is very different than hiking a mountain trail. It takes a more intentional focus to walk the trail because the footing is not as sure and the walk is more strenuous. I look at leading virtual teams in the same way. With remote jobs increasing 52% over the past year (as noted by Flexjobs 2017), leaders continue to manage these remote workers as if they were managing a co-located team. This is where the problem lies because managing virtual teams is a more strenuous activity and the global footing is definitely not as sure.
We have a perception problem. It seems like managing and working on a virtual team should be getting easier. With all the great technical solutions for connecting, sharing documents, collaborating visually online, we’ve got what we need to address the key challenges to move projects, plans, and innovation to success. Managing virtual teams is such a routine activity now that we often hear leaders say, “I’ll just do what I’ve always done well as a manager and I’ll get the same results.” The question we need to answer - is this working and are we getting the results we expect?...
Okay, not life threatening ... but fatal to any chance you have of influencing your listeners. You know that person that's dreadful to listen to on a virtual call? The person that makes you want to mentally check out when they speak? You don't want people thinking of you or your teammates that way. I've personally coached more than 5,000 presenters globally. During that time, I've seen many unintentional, but common mistakes most presenters make. Some mistakes are certainly expected and won't do much damage. What I term as "fatal" mistakes endanger your message, hinder the audience's ability to engage with you and could damage your reputation. Yes, your reputation as a speaker, collaborator or leader is at stake.