Teams - Remote and Virtual

by Claire Snowdon and Mark Bouch

Communication

Most teams should be able to adopt some simple techniques to enhance communication and interaction.

  • Allow team members to get to know each other by arranging occasional face-to-face meetings:
  • Physical meetings – occasional whole group meetings or sub-group group meetings, where smaller numbers of team members get to know one another or provide coaching and support
  • Virtual meetings can be accomplished using technology such as webcams, video conferencing, net meetings or Skype (VOIP), which may or may not require team members to use the same hardware and/or software applications.
  • Continuously provide the big picture view of the project or task, so that team members get an idea of overall team progress and have a constant point of reference that helps them to understand their part of the plan.
  • Create a team charter (often referred to as a code of conduct). This will set the team standards for dealing with requests from other team members and help to avoid delays.
  • Store shared information and team resources (charts, diagrams, pictures and so on) on the internet/intranet so that the whole team can see them. There are many easy ways (such as Sharepoint) to do this without major investment.
  • Help team members to stay visible to one another. Where possible have a calendar for each team member so that everyone’s schedule is available to view.
  • Connections and trust are built through relationships. Some simple ways to develop trust among the team:
  • Encourage interaction and discussion about family life and mutual hobbies
  • Create a ‘face book’ which includes information about background and interests, helping team members get to know each other better; individuals choose the information to share
  • Form a group on LinkedIn and use it to manage discussion topics, informal interaction and questions. You could also add the www.bloomfire.com add on for LinkedIn groups.

Tips for communicating across language barriers

Do

  • Keep it simple
  • Minimise correspondence
  • Use action words
  • Confirm if the other person understands by asking questions
  • Use open questions.

Don’t

  • Use words with more than one meaning
  • Use jargon, idioms or slang
  • Don’t shout – and don’t use capitals or exclamation marks.

Recognising and understanding communication styles

Recognising and understanding people’s different communication styles can help team members better understand and develop ways to communicate and build relationships with each other and as a group.

DiSC® is a model of human behaviour that helps people understand ‘why they do what they do’. The DiSC dimensions of behaviour (Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) make up the DiSC model and interact with other factors to describe the typical behavioural styles of individuals.

The table below lists some of the different styles that have been identified, noting how these individuals might view the use of time and how this might impact on their behavioural style and their telephone and communication style.

Communication style Attitude Use of time Telephone behaviour
DOMINANCE/DRIVER Task orientated, controlling Quick, controlled, effective Gets to the point, abrupt, interrupts, controls discussion
INFLUENCING/EXPRESSIVE Creative thinking, enthusiasm Flexible agenda, undisciplined Wordy, enthusiastic, goes off on tangents  
STEADINESS/AMIABLE Cooperative, friendly Leisurely, relationships before work Warm and friendly, informal, likes to gossip
CONSCIENTIOUSNESS/ANALYTICAL Businesslike, cool, factual Punctual, organised, likes specific details Businesslike, monotone, likes specific details

Tips for communicating with communication style types

Dominance/driver:

  • Be clear, specific, brief and to the point
  • Stick to business
  • Be prepared with support material in a well-organised format.

Influencing/expressive:

  • Provide a warm friendly environment
  • Don’t deal with a lot of details (put them in writing)
  • Ask ‘feeling’ questions to draw opinions or comments.

Steadiness/amiable:

  • Begin with a personal comment to ‘break the ice’
  • Present your case softly; be non-threatening
  • Ask ‘how’ questions to draw their opinions.

Conscientiousness/analytical:

  • Prepare your case in advance
  • Stick to business
  • Be accurate and realistic.

The most important thing to hear in communication is what is being said.

Peter Drucker