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Building Great Virtual Teams

written byNikol Kuiken, MNLP, PCCon 14/03/2021

The world of work is changing in new and unprecedented ways. We are now working remotely, spending more time than ever in our homes, and trying our best to find a healthy new work/life balance. With all of this change for workers, what are the skills team leaders can use to build great teams who will work together with shared vision during these challenging times? What are some strategies you can use to hone your Solution-Focused coaching skills with your teams?

The Solution-Focused Approach

Solution-Focused coaching by nature inspires teams to design solutions, rather than analyze problems. Focusing on “the reasons why” problems manifested often results in a team member having to accept blame which builds resentment and does not add to the team's resilience or resourcefulness. A coach approach to leadership skills helps to build a great team. Solution-Focused coaching works to envision powerful solutions. Research shows Solution-Focused coaching helps to create a collaborative environment that is characterized by team members being inspired towards a collective purpose with shared values, as well as trust, and credibility. Utilizing Solution-Focused methods in leadership makes the best use of a team’s resources, as team members work together towards a shared vision, compelling and meaningful outcomes.

Interested in applying coaching skills in your organization? Discover how to coach teams to effectively work and grow. 

Sounds great, right? However, there is one problem. With the advent of COVID-19, coaches are now having to fine-tune their coaching competencies to lead virtual, remote teams effectively.  The challenge is building great teams of people when they can no longer meet face-to-face to connect, brainstorm, energize, strategize and take action steps. With this in mind, how can coaches develop empowering leadership skills to ensure their virtual teams are functioning smoothly, are Solution-Focused and set up for success?

Leadership Skills: Building Great Virtual Teams

Here are two strategies leaders can use to build great virtual teams.

1. The Team Member “User Manual”

Each of your team members can coach others on how to best work with them by creating their own “user manual”. Facilitate great rapport and interpersonal skills between members of your team by encouraging them to share their preferred ways of communicating and receiving information. In Solution-Focused methodology, the person communicating is responsible to ensure that the communication is received in a meaningful and relevant way that sets up others for clearer understanding. A user manual helps team members understand each other’s communication styles and how to elicit the best in each other.

As leaders using a coach approach, questions one might ask include “What are they like when working in uncertain times”, “What are some of the things you may appreciate from leadership or your team to be supported during challenging times?” “What does the team need to balance work/life boundaries? “What can people expect from each other under pressure? What do they need to do their best work? You might have your team share their user manual down a scheduled time to connect vs work, via a google form or a digital slideshow platform (such as GoogleSlides) or even share it as a video recording. You can check out an example from the CEO at CultureAmp, Didier Elzinga, here.

2. Uncover Your Superpowers

Having great leadership skills involves bringing the best out within each individual team member to ultimately better the team as a whole. And this activity is a perfect option to help you not only identify, but also hone the best resources on a team to ensure it functions well even during periods of difficulty. You can do this by having each team member take an online strength finder assessment such as the High5 test, this is both a fun exercise and creates greater awareness of self and others – it can also be a great “community collective ice breaker” that can support co-workers to come together. Sharing strengths and their “user manuals” for communication and working needs can go a long way to connecting over values and come together to realign as a team to succeed in their shared vision.

Importantly, this reveals to the individual, as well as the team, the inherent strengths and characteristics of each individual. The coach then ensures people feel empowered to jump into a video call and share their results. Each person could share their highest and lowest-ranked attributes as well as something that surprised them about themselves. A Solution-Focused team functions best on the premise that is “greater than the sum of its parts” (Aristotle).

Building great teams requires great leadership skills. Building great virtual teams requires a rethinking of how to best utilize team coaching tools. The goal should be to create a team that pulls together in these changing times and can rise to any challenge. Using the two coach approach leadership skills discussed above will help you to develop strong connected virtual teams that communicate and collaborate well together, ensuring your team remains not only happy and harmonious but also Solution-Focused.

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