While a vision develops a picture of where the team is going and creates a shared sense of going somewhere specific together, your team charter will help you to more effectively collaborate across boundaries and borders, set expectations, design performance management systems and provide a mechanism for evaluating your virtual teams. However, the charter is not the end of the process. The charter is the launch point for creating useful dialogue that will ultimately facilitate the team creating it’s mission statement – the coming together of the virtual team’s vision and charter.

The vision, charter and mission are critical for all teams, however when leading virtual teams they become vital to your success. Because you work with teams that do not work in a shared physical environment with cues acquired through daily interactions, it is critical that your charter provide explicit guidance on overall expectations.

The formation of a charter is the most effective when developed by the team, creating a joint focus and buy-in to the overall contents of the charter.  Work diligently with your virtual teams to develop each area of the charter. Similar to how the vision provides a desired destination in living color for your virtual teams, the charter will provide a clear road map to guide them toward that final destination. In addition, by working through the components of the charter together, the team will be focused on their joint objectives and common path. It provides a significant opportunity for you, as their leader, to help your dispersed teams come to a common purpose, ensuring everyone has a shared understanding of where they are going and how they will get there as a team.

The formation of the charter creates a graphic, detailed picture of the vision – clarifying roles, boundaries and communications processes.  The most important aspects of the charter are:

Once your virtual teams have worked through the charter, they will need to create a virtual team mission statement that will align with the organization’s mission, fulfill the requirements in the agreed upon charter and meet the expectations of various stakeholders – customers, organizational leadership, matrix managers, and the virtual team itself.

An effective mission statement will include: 1) The virtual team’s core purpose 2) the team’s distinct characteristics 3) what the team is to accomplish 4) products or services   5)  the team’s basic beliefs, values and aspirations and 6) it’s principle stakeholders.

The dialogue should start with the virtual vision, evolve through the team charter and solidify with the development of the Virtual Teams mission.  By combining these three aspects into your virtual team’s development process, you are creating a sustainable sense of shared identity that is often difficult to establish in virtual environments when teams are spread across time zones and cultures.  Your ability to strategically connect your virtual teams will have a direct impact on the team’s – and the organization’s – ability to succeed.

What is your plan to strategically connect your virtual team members to drive success?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you connect your virtual teams. Always feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week for the next installment of Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders, when we will continue to discuss the complexity of virtual teams.

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