The first thing to get right for successful virtual teams is trust.
The trustworthiness of staff is not the only area where trust is important. Trust is critical at all levels to establish virtual teams that reap rewards.
The most significant barrier to establishing a culture of trust is that most organisations still value and reward ‘face time’ – or being seen in the office. The assumption is made that being in the office equals commitment and productivity.
On the other hand, the most significant enabler of trust is a results-based performance management system, where the focus turns to productivity and quality rather than the amount of time spent on the job. Telstra is an example of a company that is taking this step.
Perhaps the most important thing for managers to do is to clearly communicate job roles, responsibilities, goals and objectives so that they can ‘manage by results’.
Rather than focus on the minutiae of day-to-day activities, an virtual team manager’s focus needs to turn to clearly communicating job expectations. This is the change that has occurred at Microsoft. Researchers believe that this system of results-based performance management is crucial to achieving higher productivity and improved staff engagement that managers enjoy in Anywhere Working organisations. Results-based management provides for what you might call ‘watching trust’ – not a carte blanche license for staff to do anything but looser reins around how those results are achieved.