Leading Effective Virtual Teams: Practical Advice for Transitioning Team Norms in this ‘New Normal’



visuals-sW_BS0OVgv0-unsplash*This post was authored by Hogan’s Brandy Agnew and Wendy Howell.

At Hogan, we define leadership as the ability to build and maintain a high-performing team. And high-performing teams consistently outperform the competition. You want your team to be one of those, right? We don’t know what impact the current pandemic will have on our businesses, but we do know that high-performing teams are critical to our success.

Hogan’s data scientists recently conducted a literature review to define the characteristics of high-performing teams more clearly. From that review, we know that high-performing teams have strong norms around how they engage interpersonally. Because we are social and group-dwelling beings, it’s no surprise that teams are suffering interpersonally right now as we practice social distancing. Although other factors are at play, the interpersonal norms (the “rules” for how the team operates) have likely deteriorated further than the process-oriented norms. Specifically, this global pandemic has disrupted our social interactions. For example, imagine a high-performing team who used to gather in a coffee shop for morning kickoff meetings. Now what are they doing? Drinking coffee alone at their kitchen tables?

Interpersonal norms are critical to team efficacy, and you cannot let them go unattended yet expect teams to keep functioning at a high level. It does take some extra effort, but the team results are worth it. Based on Hogan’s literature review, we decided to focus our message on how to handle conflict, belonging, communication, and collaboration virtually. These norms keep teams connected, motivated, and engaged; they ground teams in productive interpersonal interactions. They are the invisible glue to a high-performing team. Without them, a team will come apart, not only at the edges, but at the core.

Whether you’re coaching leaders or you’re a member of a team, consider the following questions:

  • How does your team address conflict when you aren’t all in the same physical location?
  • What do you do to create a sense of belonging and connection for your team? How do you inspire and acknowledge contributions when so many factors compete for your team members’ attention?
  • What about communication? How have you adjusted your practices around keeping people informed and aligned?
  • How does your team collaborate and work together toward important business results?

Click here to listen to Brandy and Wendy’s webinar, “Practical Advice for Transitioning Team Norms in this ‘New Normal.’”