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Building Trust with a Virtual Team

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Virtual teams are hard to get right. Here are three important methods to build a virtual team that will succeed:

  1. If you want to effectively lead and manage one, start by assembling the right team. You won't get anywhere without hiring and developing people suited to virtual teamwork, putting them into the right-sized groups, and dividing the labor appropriately.
  2. When building a team, conduct behavioral interviews and personality tests to screen for qualities like good communication skills, high emotional intelligence, an ability to work independently, strong resilience to recover from snafus, and sensitivity to other cultures. If you inherit a team, use the same tools to assess people's strengths and weaknesses, and then train them in the skills they're lacking.
  3. The most effective virtual teams typically have fewer than 10 people, so keep it small. If a project is too complex and requires more people, divide everyone into subteams that can focus on a narrower goal.

It is much more challenging with a virtual team when people are not face to face to build trust. Take these four steps to build trust:

  • First, Make the most of "swift trust" at the outset of establishing the team. At the outset everyone is optimistic and the mission is new. Take advantage of this feeling and build trust amongst the team members.
  • Second, build interpersonal trust as the team matures.
  • Third, establish regular and predictable communication to bond the team
  • Fourth, share and rotate power

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The author of this page is Keith Ferrazzi.

Keith Ferrazzi is recognized as a global thought leader in the relational and collaborative sciences. As Chairman of Ferrazzi Greenlight and its Research Institute, he works to identify behaviors that block global organizations from reaching their goals and to transform them by coaching new behaviors that increase growth and shareholder value.

A New York Times #1 best-selling author of Who’s Got Your Back and Never Eat Alone, as well as a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune and many other leading publications, Keith’s gained over 20 years of experience, from the C-Suite to founding his own companies, and distilled those years and experiences into practices and solutions he brings to every engagement.

More recently, in partnership with Zappos’ Tony Hsieh and Groupon’s Brad Keywell, Keith launched Yoi, a digital onboarding tool that drives transparency, improved coaching, and real-time feedback between busy managers and their new hires. The platform utilizes practice-based learning and quantitative assessments to deliver increased productivity in the workplace.

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