How can you create accountability among the people in your virtual teams? Fortunately, there are many best practices from experienced virtual managers – working managers like yourself. Here are some of their practical suggestions.
As you read this list, choose a few items that resonate with your situation, and try them out with your team.
- Get senior support from the beginning
- Solicit people who have subject matter expertise (SME) and know what is involved
- Make sure your people have the authority to make decisions
- Be clear with your communications – clarity creates commitment!
- Set expectations up front regarding what needs to be achieved and who does what (i.e. have a clear definition of ownership) and provide deadlines so that everyone knows and is committed
- Have each person’s or each sub team’s deadlines roll up to the multiple-page plan
- Conduct regular reporting on tasks: Are they done? If not, why not?
- Have regular successive meetings set on the calendar even if you don’t have much to talk about
- Conduct one-on-one (1:1) meetings where you can ask softer questions: “What needs to be done? Who did it today? If delayed, why? What help do you need? How is that XYZ report we need coming along? What problems are you having with it?
- Check results regularly and create a feedback loop. Some virtual teams give daily status reports while other teams send emails at the end of the day to review progress
- Make one person own a core responsibility. Organize due dates around that person and make sure the person reports back
- Create a share point on the Internet or a shared drive on your servers, or find another tool that helps everyone stay informed and share data
- Integrate work tools to help clarify ownership on projects and enable virtual teams to make decisions quickly as business needs change
- If and when things don’t work out, don’t hide or blame someone else. Take responsibility; jump in and raise your hand
Accountability is about getting things done and following through. But setting guidelines for accountability becomes even more important for virtual teams because clarity creates commitment. And commitment creates dependability. Dependability builds trust, and behind accountability is trust – the energy that sustains our operations.
Trust is the foundation upon which accountability sits. And trust develops when team members realize that other members are reliable and can be held accountable. So, if you say you are going to something, do it!