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3 Ways to Have Accountability on Virtual Team

3 Ways to Have Accountability on Virtual Team

images-2What happens when you see a co-worker’s desk empty?

I know from my brief time working in an office that I would think they are slacking off either in a meeting, at an out of office appointment, on vacation, or dealing with a family issue. I NEVER thought “wow, they must have important work to do and found a productive place to get it completed that worked for them”.

Virtual teams are a hot topic that’s not going away anytime soon. In the last few weeks, I have given two webinars for two different associations to a total of 3300 people from around the world. This has been the greatest number of attendees I have had on a webinar to date. The level of interest blew me away.

4764321512_a49c166c76_bOne of the questions that come up the most is “How do you hold virtual team members accountable”. This is understandable as unfortunately our corporate culture has been built on ‘being seen’ and perceived effort. We have been trained to believe if we can’t see someone sitting at their desk during the allotted time they are supposed to work there, they must not be getting any work completed. In many cases, this could not be further from the truth.

To keep your virtual team members and frankly all your employees accountable, there are three keys elements you can implement:

  1. Identify Values And Behaviours:Create a set of work guidelines that outline expectations in terms of core hours, availability, communication, and project tracking. Getting clear on these behaviors will help get your virtual team on the same page. This doesn’t mean you should tell employees how to do their work, as anonymity is still hugely important to most workers. Set the parameters and let them work.
  2. Goal Reporting Built Into Daily Activities: Have each member of your team take a moment to report his or her top 3 priorities at the beginning of each day and share what actually happened at the end of the day. Use a basic online task management software (such as asana) system for workers to record this information so it is available to all team members. If this is overkill for the type of work your team is doing, do this weekly. These daily or weekly reports allow you to track performance, giving you peace of mind that progress is being made.
  1. Focus on Results: Jointly, set out explicitly clear results that each team member is expected to achieve and at what date and time they need to be delivered. By becoming result–focused, you are no longer concerned with where they are spending their time. If they don’t come into the office or leave early, that’s fine as long as results are achieved.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, said We need to “measure results not on how hard they tried” but what they delivered. To our detriment, we have built a culture where being seen in the office and trying is good enough.

2339687721_67d1d5146e_zTo learn more about implementing a result-focused form of accountability with your virtual and non-virtual employees, check out GOROWE.  

At the end of the day, results are why you and your team are employed and results are what’s going to achieve your goals, not being seen at a desk.

Action: Implement some form of goal tracking and sharing program with your team to keep everyone accountable and informed. 

Until next time… Embrace the Adventure


Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author and Ironman competitor.

Click here to learn more about how Shawn can help your organization.

© 2016 Shawn Stratton. All rights reserved.