Powering up your virtual team


Creating High-Performing Teams is not always an easy task, it is a hard job to get it right even when the team are working in the same environment.

Ben Hunt-Davis knows how painful and long this journey can be and how many obstacles the team, the coach/leader and each individual has to go through in order to succeed as a team. He and his team managed and were rewarded with the gold medal for the Rowing Men's Eight at the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000.

Ben has spent the last 16 years specialising in leadership and team development and in 2012 he co-founded Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?, a performance consultancy which seeks to transform organisational performance through the adoption of elite sport principles and strategies. Ben and his team have a highly practical approach which is heavily focused on the application of performance habits, mind-sets and beliefs. Their aim is to ensure that participants genuinely apply new ways of working and behave differently to achieve greater results.

We were joined by WIMTBGF? Co-Founder and Olympic Gold Medallist, Ben Hunt-Davis, and Director of Consulting, Jamie MacPherson for a webinar which highlighted their top recommendations to help teams be consistently more effective in their day-to-day work. The session was delivered in a practical-way which provided participants with a series of tips to support the development of high performing teams in the virtual world that we currently live in.

Jamie and Ben emphasised that many of the principles and ideas that they would typically encourage in ‘normal’ circumstances remain the same in a virtual environment. They stressed that the principles may become more significant when communicating virtually because we can no longer rely on face-to-face interaction.

To build strong and high-performing teams, Jamie and Ben gave advice in four broad areas:

  • Team goals
  • How do you get the best out of me?
  • Team rules
  • Building belief


Team goals

It is imperative that you as a team set a common goal. By doing this, you will be ensuring that everyone within the team is moving within the same direction. However, in order for that goal to be most effective Jamie and Ben suggested using the ‘3 M framework’.

M #1 Mutual reliance – It is vital that all team members are aware of what roles everyone else in the team is playing and to build everyone’s understanding that the team wouldn’t work without each member carrying out their respective roles. The highest performing teams are those who know exactly who is doing what in terms of accountability, responsibility, consultation and who needs to be informed.

M #2 Mutual desire – Ensuring that everyone is bought into the goal and has the same desire to achieve it.

M #3 Measurement – Ensuring that goals are measurable is particularly important in a virtual team, without clear measures processes can easily lead off into different directions. It is wise to implement a number of measures so that you can assess when you've achieved your goal. It would be useful to set milestones along the way, allowing you to track and record progress.


How do you get the best out of me?

As a high-performing team, it is important that we appreciate that everyone will have different working preferences. Once we understand these things about each other, we can work in a more effective manner.

Establishing working preferences can be done very simply by asking your employees three basic questions. Firstly, asking what is their favourite way of communicating i.e. email, video conference, or phone call. Secondly, by enquiring what time of day they are most productive i.e. morning, afternoon or evening and finally establishing whether the individuals within your team prefer to work collectively or solo. These things may have been altered within the current climate, so it is important that leaders ask these questions now in order to work out the best way to move forward in a way that is suitable for everyone.

It is crucial that business owners can understand what conditions certain individuals need to work under in order to produce great work. Once they know this, they should then make it easier for them to work under those conditions.


Team rules

It is important that specific, clear and simple rules are established by the entire team. If everyone in the team is on the same page and following the same rules, there will be less room for error.

However, these rules should be context specific, rules that have been set in the office may be completely different to the rules that we set within our virtual teams.

Rules are not static, they can changed and refined over time – they are not just words on a wall.


Building belief

Once you have developed your team goals, it is crucial that you build the belief in order to build momentum and move your work forwards as a team.

Ben and Jamie suggested that to build that belief, you must continuously reflect on what you have done. By doing this, the team will build a sense of achievement, thus enhancing their motivation to achieve more.

Progress and achievements can be assessed by regularly asking the following questions:

  • What are three things you have done as an individual this week that has contributed to your team goal?
  • What are three things you have done as a team this week that shows that you are capable of achieving your team goal?


To find out more about building your high-performing team watch the webinar here: https://blog.som.cranfield.ac.uk/bgpblog/high-performing-teams-in-a-virtual-world-14th-april or visit Will It Make the Boat Go Faster’s website: https://www.willitmaketheboatgofaster.com/ 


If you are interested in receiving further business support throughout these unprecedented times, please visit the BGP Response Hub and register for our upcoming events.



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