How to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams?

Communication is the fuel that powers all teamwork. This also applies to virtual teams. In this article, the participants will learn how to establish efficient communication in virtual teams. They will learn which digital media are suitable for which occasions and what they should think about when choosing the respective medium. Furthermore, the participants will learn to regulate the collaboration in their virtual team and to avoid media-induced misunderstandings. This article specifically addresses how virtual meetings must be conducted.

How to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams?
How to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams?

Content Summary

Use digital media
Control collaboration
Avoid misunderstandings
Conduct virtual meetings
Key message
Test

Use digital media

Overview: Media Richness Index

Media Richness Index
Media Richness Index

Exercise: What media work for what purpose?

Question 1

Which two dimensions does the media richness index describe?
(One answer is correct)

A. Media information and motivation effort.
B. Media information richness and complexity of the task.
C. Motivation effort and complexity of the task.

Correct Answer:
B. Media information richness and complexity of the task.

Question 2

Complete the sentence: Effective communication is possible if…
(One answer is correct)

A. … the medium is as rich in information as possible
B. … the choice of media corresponds to the complexity of the task.
C. … one only uses synchronous media.

Correct Answer:
B. … the choice of media corresponds to the complexity of the task.

Control collaboration

Deep Exploration: Have you already defined all-important team rules?

The following examples show you which rules you should set for your virtual team:

  • Define core times to reach one another.
  • Agree on response times.
  • Note differences between time zones.
  • Create a team calendar.
  • Avoid misunderstandings by asking questions.
  • Plan regular in-person meetings.
  • Select suitable communications media.

Exercise: Steer collaboration

Question 1

Why should you create rules for collaboration?
(One answer is correct)

A. To monitor your team members better.
B. To prevent frictional losses.
C. A virtual team needs no rules because the team members work in different locations anyway.

Correct Answer:
B. To prevent frictional losses.

Question 2

Which team rules make sense?
(Two answers are correct)

A. “We have fixed working hours.”
B. “Emails are only sent once a day.”
C. “We note the time zones of individual colleagues.”

Correct Answer:
A. “We have fixed working hours.”
C. “We note the time zones of individual colleagues.”

Avoid misunderstandings

Exercise: Learn to avoid misunderstandings

Question 1

Hello Natascha,
Thanks for your email! I received it last week. Sorry that I’m only answering now. I’m totally stressed here :-(. I can send you the calculation after I’ve had my discussion with the department manager, and we’ve finally coordinated. I still need to prepare it today for the meeting with him…
I’ll let you know as soon as I have more information.
Thanks! 🙂
Joachim

Click on the measures that the team leader is using here to avoid misunderstanding in communication with his employees.
(Two answers are correct)

A. He communicated abundantly through the use of emoticons.
B. He shared contextual information by describing his stress level.
C. He made sure to provide timely feedback with a quick response email.

Correct Answer:
A. He communicated abundantly through the use of emoticons.
B. He shared contextual information by describing his stress level.

Question 2

I had the feeling in the team meeting that you were not completely clear about which steps must now be taken in India so that we can complete the migration within the desired timeline. I’d like to clear this up with you offline and go through the migration timeline one more time.

Click on the measures that the team leader is using here to avoid misunderstanding in communication with his employees.
(Two answers are correct)

A. He provides contextual information by clearly referring to the team meeting.
B. He writes/visualizes a lot in that he telephones.
C. He provides prompt feedback, as he calls his Indian employees right after the team meeting.

Correct Answer:
A. He provides contextual information by clearly referring to the team meeting.
C. He provides prompt feedback, as he calls his Indian employees right after the team meeting.

Question 3

Dear team,
As we discussed in our team meeting today, the task we just reviewed is still open.
Please take care of it. We’ve talked about the process in detail.
Best regards,
Verana

Click on the measures that the team leader is using here to avoid misunderstanding in communication with his employees.
(Two answers are correct)

A. The team leader provides contextual information.
B. The team leader ensures timely feedback.
C. The team leader wrote and displayed.

Correct Answer:
B. The team leader ensures timely feedback.
C. The team leader wrote and displayed.

Conduct virtual meetings

Overview: Seven tips for successful meetings

  1. Create an agenda: An agenda lets all team members know what the meeting is about, and they can prepare for it.
  2. Distribute the agenda in a timely manner: This gives team members the ability to prepare for the meeting.
  3. Ensure that minutes are taken at each meeting: That way everyone can find all agreements and promises that were made.
  4. Actively manage talking time: That ensures that all team members can speak – not just some of them.
  5. Finally, summarize the key points and discussions again: This gives an overview of the discussion status.
  6. Address disruptions: This keeps team members focussed and avoids unnecessary distractions.
  7. Allow time for networking: This increases the team’s feeling of solidarity.

Exercise: Do you know what you need to pay attention to in virtual meetings?

Question 1

By creating an agenda, you can ensure that…
(Two answers are correct)

A. … uncertainty is predominant with your team members.
B. … you team members can prepare for the topics.
C. … you can fully concentrate on discussion, problem-solving, and ideas during meetings with your team.

Correct Answer:
B. … you team members can prepare for the topics.
C. … you can fully concentrate on discussion, problem-solving, and ideas during meetings with your team.

Question 2

By creating minutes, you can ensure that …
(Two answers are correct)

A. … this builds a feeling of cohesion.
B. … the participants have a common basis of information.
C. … misunderstandings are avoided.

Correct Answer:
B. … the participants have a common basis of information.
C. … misunderstandings are avoided.

Question 3

By steering meetings actively, you can ensure that …

A. … all team members can have a say.
B. … individual team members do not keep out.
C. … the team is open to compromise.

Correct Answer:
A. … all team members can have a say.
B. … individual team members do not keep out.

Key message

  • The availability and mastery of digital media are the basis for collaboration in virtual teams.
  • Team. rules provide the basis for joint work from various locations.
  • Misunderstandings can be avoided through selecting the right means and forms of communication.

Test

Question 1

Which means can you use to avoid misunderstandings in your team?

A. Schedule an in-person meeting.
B. Provide contextual information.
C. Write and visualize.
Correct Answer:
B. Provide contextual information.
C. Write and visualize.

Question 2

By creating an agenda, you can ensure that…
(Two answers are correct)

A. … you can fully concentrate on discussion, problem-solving, and ideas during meetings with your team.
B. … uncertainty is predominant with your team members.
C. … the participants have a common basis of information.

Correct Answer:
A. … you can fully concentrate on discussion, problem-solving, and ideas during meetings with your team.
C. … the participants have a common basis of information.

Question 3

What does “Write and visualize” mean?
(One answer is correct)

A. Verbally summarize results.
B. Present results on the flipchart.
C. Work with images, photos, and graphs.

Correct Answer:
C. Work with images, photos, and graphs.

Question 4

What does abundant communication consist of?
(Two answers are correct)

A. Emoticons.
B. Factual information and emoticons.
C. Pure factual information.

Correct Answer:
A. Emoticons.
B. Factual information and emoticons.