10 Mistakes virtual team leaders make ...and how to fix them

A U G U S T   N E W S   2 0 2 0

10 Mistakes virtual team leaders make

...and how to fix them

by Sarah Thurber
Russ Schoen and
Jonathan Vehar

Well, so much for heading back to the office. Looks like we'll be working from home for the foreseeable future. It's time for leaders to get serious about leading virtual teams like it matters, like it's not a temporary thing, like the future of your organization depends on it, because it might.

We asked team members, leaders and business owners where team leaders most often go wrong, supporting virtual teams. We found 10 common mistakes and how to fix them. Here's #10.

Mistake #10

“We don’t really need virtual meeting guidelines. We already know how to run meetings.”

The fix: Virtual times call for virtual guidelines. Without permission, people feel rude asking a teammate to stop shuffling papers over their microphone or to stop making wisecracks in chat. Don't shy from the basics. As a team, agree on how you want to handle online etiquette around cameras, the mute button, work wardrobes, chat conversations, breaks, eating, drinking, etc. The little things can be surprisingly disruptive if you haven’t set clear expectations. As long as people have good Internet connection, asking people to keep videos on increases engagement. Use the chat box like you’re talking out loud (i.e. judiciously). As a group, decide if it’s OK for people to eat, take bathroom breaks, and go check on their kids in the middle of a meeting. Do you want them to mention this in chat before they go? Be explicit. It makes people comfortable, knowing they’re doing the right thing.

Pro tip: Write down and share your guidelines and agree to revisit them in a month to make adjustments.


Want more tips on leading virtual teams? Next month we'll publish another tip in the newsletter and let you download the ebook by authors Sarah Thurber, Russ Schoen and Jonathan Vehar. 

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