CHAPTER 3What Does Good Look Like? Profile of High-Performing Virtual Teams

Not every organization uses virtual teams to their full potential. In our previous study of virtual teams, we discovered that more than a quarter (27%) were not “fully performing.” Many organizations simply recycled the same guidelines they were using for their co-located teams and hoped for the best. And frankly, that system does not work.

This chapter explores what factors make virtual teams perform successfully and outlines key pitfalls for virtual collaboration. The next chapter outlines how to maximize virtual team performance and overcome performance plateaus.

We are regularly asked these kinds of questions: What team size is optimal? Do cross-functional teams have more challenges? How often should virtual teams meet face to face? These and similar questions led to our research study on virtual team effectiveness, in which we collected data to provide practical, research-based recommendations to leaders and managers. We found that the characteristics of high-performing virtual teams fell into three categories: team composition, communication and training, and leadership. Among teams that were most successful, strong leadership was a common thread.

Composition Communication and Training Leadership
  • Stable and consistent membership.
  • Fewer team members (37% of teams with 13+ members rated themselves as less effective).
  • Members are from the same function.
  • Members are on fewer teams.
  • Longer ...

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