People in companies around the world think, act, work, learn and lead differently, based for the most part on their culture. Culture both consciously and unconsciously shapes values, perceptions and behaviors, as well as setting systematic guidelines for how we should conduct business.

Last week we took a look at how we can combine different components of culture to move virtual teams forward. This week we will explore how you can effectively manage cultural differences from a practical viewpoint that will allow everyone to benefit from cultural diversity.

By its very nature, the make-up of virtual teams is diverse. This is good – it allows you to maximize different perspectives and, hopefully, leverage the differences to gain new insights and fresh perspectives. However, there are factors that need to be managed if a virtual team is to not only survive, but thrive, within the complexities of a virtual team environment. Here are some common challenges you may have as a leader in creating synergy within your virtual team:

These challenges need to be managed throughout the lifecycle of the team. The sooner they are acknowledged and worked on, the more efficiently the team will be able to deliver results.

Despite these challenges, there are also unifying factors that can connect a virtual team with their diverse team members. Virtual integration can occur based on common agreement as to accepted principles and processes and mechanisms such as shared vision and values.

Here are some commitment points that may serve as a cohesive force for virtual teams:

As a leader, if you are able to leverage the above rallying points to advance the team development of a global mindset, you have made significant progress toward virtual integration. Developing commonalities in these areas will create a team that is open to exchanging ideas across boundaries and borders and breaking down provincial ways of thinking. Your focus needs to be on creating virtual teams that can successfully operate cross-functionally, cross-divisionally and cross culturally around the world. Managing the “virtual” dynamic lies at the heart of creating, implementing and sustaining a successful virtual team.

Are you strategically managing the challenges and opportunities inherent in your virtual teams?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you manage the challenges and opportunities on 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, when we will discuss how you can manage cultural differences in a way that will allow your virtual teams to benefit from cultural diversity.

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