P&M 35: Managing Virtually and Remotely Coaching with Management Success Cards

In this People and Management podcast episode I’ve divided it into 2 parts:

Part 1: An activity that will help you and your team to understand and overcome the challenges of working with a geographically dispersed team.

Part 2: Using the Management Success Cards to dive into how you can lead your remote or virtual team more effectively.

Let’s got into it…

Part 1:

The objective of the activity is to help your team identify challenges and then the solutions to improving communication across, through and within their dispersed team.

Divide the group into pairs.

The pairs will discuss a current issue or project but will do so facing back to back (not looking at each other).

Before discussions begins the whole group needs to agree on some communication guidelines, e.g.:

  • Agree on the purpose and importance of the topic and discussion
  • We will both listen
  • We will confirm and check understanding
  • We will agree on actions and take responsibility

Obviously there could be more, it’s the groups guidelines and they can create them.

Let the pairs begin their discussion, say 10 minutes.

You could add variations to increase the intensity or complexity of simulating ‘distance’, e.g. turn the lights out, add music.

You could add the variations in layers, such as, the first 10min’s is back-to-back, second 10min’s is back-to-back and lights out, third 10min’s is back-to-back, lights out and music playing.

Don’t be cruel, but do explain it’s about simulating a distance challenge.

The learning is in the debrief so once the discussions, or rounds of discussions, are completed ask the group:

  1. Did you reach an agreement or solution for your topic/issue?
  2. How did you use the guidelines to achieve your objective?
  3. What would the conversation have been like if you didn’t follow the guidelines?
  4. What would have been different if you could both see each other?
  5. How did you demonstrate to the other person that you were listening?
  6. What were the obstacles presented by the ‘distance’ conversation and how did you or could you overcome them?

Why run this activity: It is an excellent, fun and probably fast paced activity to get your team talking, appreciating each other and having deeper insights into their challenges so they will have more desire to work together to overcome those challenges. Pretty good reason, I think!

Part 2:


Card 1: One big problem of managing virtual/global teams is ensuring all members know each other. The annual or quarterly get-together is on event, what resources can you use regularly to continue building the team?

Card 2: How do you maintain being accessible for the on-site and off-site staff?

Card 3: Virtual teams may consist of people in and from different countries and cultures, and view the way of doing things quite differently. Understanding the differences is critical. Try asking people int he team what their definition of ‘team’ is. What does this tell you about your own assumptions and the differences across the team?

Card 4: Engaging with a geographically dispersed team is a challenge. What does the team need from you to feel connected and part of the team? (Here’s a hint, ask them.)

Card 5: Finish this sentence: Building trust is one of the foundations to virtual teams operating successfully. To demonstrate I am a trustworthy manager of my team, I …


What Managing Virtually or Remotely questions or insights do have?

To get your set of Management Success Cards: http://www.sallyfoleylewis.com/products/management-success-cards/

To get the Management Success Cards app: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/management-success-cards/id867275091?mt=8

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