In the video and blog below, I provide 5 Steps to Creating a Strong Culture when you’re working with Virtual Teams.
Virtual teams are a reality in today’s workplace. You may have people who work from home, in remote offices, or out in the field. Team and culture building can be challenging in those situations! At Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. we have a small team of people who are excited, committed and 100% our vision of creating workplaces where every day people are treated like stars. They work together to achieve our goals and our customers’ goals – and they all work remotely.
Beth, Brandi and I work in our own offices in Asheville, North Carolina; David is in his home office in Chicago, Illinois, and Chris is either out in the field with our customers, in her home office in Seattle, Washington, or visiting her grandchildren in Nebraska. However, I knew early-on that if we wanted to reach our goals, we needed to work together as a cohesive team. So, I was very intentional about encouraging that team atmosphere even though we all worked virtually. I’ll share my secrets with you, and hopefully it will spark some ideas that will work with your own virtual teams.
5 Strategies for Building a Strong Culture with Virtual Teams
- We get together at least 2 times a year. To ensure the members of your virtual teams build relationships with each other, you’ve got to get them into a room together at least a couple of times a year. For the “cast” of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. this typically happens at our 3 day “Cast Retreat” and our 2 day “Customer Service Summit.” In late Fall we gather in Asheville, North Carolina for our “Cast Retreat.” During this time we celebrate our successes, set goals for the coming year and outline our sales and marketing strategy. In March or April, we get back together for our “Customer Service Summit.” This is where we discuss how we can deliver a better experience to our customers, in terms of both the service we provide and the results we help them achieve. During both events, I make sure we include these two activities on the agenda:
- A “Getting To Know You” Activity: We usually start with this to ensure we’re making any new team members feel welcome and part of the group.
- A Social Component: We’ve gone to a pizza-making class, a pottery class, and gone on a scavenger hunt. The whole idea is simply to ensure everyone has time to get to know one-another on a social level. This takes 1/2 a day and we follow it up with dinner that evening.
- We use Social Media to stay connected. For us, this means Facebook. We have a private Facebook Group that’s only for Cast Members of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. Anyone in the group can post anytime and they do! However, we do have a structure which we stick to each week.
- On Mondays we post our work-related goals for the week.
- On Tuesdays we discuss one of our company core values
- On Wednesdays, I provide the team with education and updates
- On Thursdays we thank cast members, customers or others who may have helped us during the week.
- On Fridays we celebrate what we accomplished and share where we’re stuck. People chime in to celebrate and help their fellow cast members through their trouble spots.
- We started with a Core Group that was Intentional About Culture Building. At one of our first retreats, I asked the group of three people to help me be very intentional about building the Red Carpet Culture. We all knew the company would grow and we’d be welcoming new people onto the team. The culture we built with those three cast members would set the example for everyone else who joined us in the future. My recommendation to others with virtual teams is that you ask a small, enthusiastic group of people to help you be deliberate about building the team of remote workers. In my experience, when you’ve got a committed group of people intentional about moving something forward, others will eventually jump on board.
- We have traditions. When it was just me in my office, each time I signed on a new customer, I rang a little bell. Today I happily ring that bell on video and share it on our team Facebook page! They all celebrate with their comments and I can almost hear them cheering with delight from wherever they are. Whenever we send out a proposal or a pitch to the media, we do a little mojo dance. Our team loves our little traditions, and I look forward to seeing what new ones pop up as we continue to grow and do this exciting work!
- We meet Virtually Once a Month. In addition to our twice-annual face-to-face retreats, we also meet on a monthly basis using the GotoMeeting.com platform. This way everyone can see each other and it gives us a chance to report on our key indicators, share updates, help each other get unstuck, and make sure we’re working together to drive our customers’ and company’s success. Something I forgot to mention in the video above, is that we’ve recently started to rotate the facilitation of the meeting and that helps to ensure everyone feels some ownership of the process. (Thanks Dawnna St. Louis!)
This is what’s working for the cast of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. ! My desire was to get you thinking about how you can build a strong culture even when you team works remotely. What about you? What strategies do you use with your virtual teams? Comment below and let me know! Conversation is always better when it’s a two-way street.
Donna Cutting, CSP , is the Founder and CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. She leads a team of customer service experts who help engage their people to deliver a red carpet customer experience. The Red Carpet Team is ready and raring to help you build or enhance your service culture. Find out more about our training programs here, or give us a call at 800-519-0434. Click here to download our free Red Carpet Engagement Tool.