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Apr 172017

One evening in February this year I found myself unexpectedly watching the famous Placido Domingo perform live in the State Opera House in Vienna, Austria. To my surprise I had manifested a ticket to a sold out Romeo and Juliet Opera in this romantic corner of the world. It was quite the experience!

What actually brought me to Europe was a global client I have been working with over the past few months.  I was asked to design and deliver a training program for a global team with communication and intercultural challenges. With parts of the team in Portland, The Netherlands and Czech Republic, I delivered the training in both English and Dutch.

Challenges for Virtual Teams

What I found out while working with these teams is that some of the challenges of any virtual team are language and tone, cultural differences and time zones.

With the American team we’ve identified challenges such as the seemingly slow decision making process of the Dutch team, which is based on a historical model of consensus. The straightforward language and time zone barriers with the teams in Europe were a concern as well for this global team with English as the operating language.

Knowing both the Dutch and American culture well, I could help the Dutch understand how to communicate with more consideration for cultural context, less direct, with a little more diplomacy if they wanted to get anything done by the American team. Sugarcoating is not the strongest skill for the Dutch!

For the Czech team the topic of creating trust and rapport was important and we’ve explored these topics in depth together.

I found that the top three challenges for virtual teams are:

  1. Too much reliance on email without using other tools to connect;
  2. Absence of collegiality;
  3. Challenging to manage conflict in virtual teams across cultures.

Next time I would love to share in detail with you my 3 key tips for working successfully, minimizing conflict and improving intercultural understanding with other team members in different locations, either locally or globally.

Creating Engaged Virtual Teams

As a result of this work I have added the 1-day workshop “Creating Engaged Virtual Teams” to my services. Contact me when your virtual team is ready to create a more inspired, engaged and effective experience.

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