Transforming Talk at Work | April 2017

online community

Dear Reader,

When Hank came to me for some coaching and advice, he had recently inherited a hybrid virtual team. Four of the team members were in the home office (where he was) and the remaining six team members worked virtually.

Hank’s assumption that managing a virtual team would be just like managing the other two collocated teams he oversaw was quickly proved wrong.

In the first team meeting he convened, Hank realized there was no sense of “team” to speak of in this group of employees whose work was, in fact, interdependent with each other. There were no shared goals, no working together and helping each other out, nor any willingness to be vulnerable with each other.

After the first disastrous meeting, Hank had one-on-one conversations with each member of the team to find out what their perceptions were. Here’s what he learned:
• For the most part, the four employees in the home office felt like those who worked virtually didn’t work as hard as they did.
• One of the virtual members was a lone wolf; she focused on her own work, had a lot of drive and excelled. Individually.
• Another virtual member felt perpetually out of the loop. He thought that the team members in the home office had access to more information, resources and a network of people they could go to help get their work done.
• One virtual team member felt that the previous manager had micro-managed her work and she was frustrated and disengaged as a result.
• Conversely, another virtual member felt that the previous manager provided insufficient guidance and direction, and he felt lost as a result.
• The remaining two virtual team members were so cynical and jaded from their experiences that they weren’t forthcoming with Hank about what the issues were.

Hank realized he had his work cut out for him. He knew the importance of bringing a sense of community to this virtual team (in fact, he thought it was generous to call them a team at all!). Hank knew that creating a team out of this group was possible and that it would take some diligence and some new ideas to make it happen.

Together, Hank and I put together a plan of action that would eventually build this motley crew into a team, including interdependence, vulnerability and helping one another.

Check out the blog post below for a few of the specific techniques I shared with Hank for developing community in virtual teams.


From the Blog:

How to Build Community in Virtual Teams

Humans crave community. In fact, our survival depends on it. It’s true in our personal lives and it’s true at work, too.

Community does not necessarily develop as fluidly and naturally when managing virtual teams as when managing collocated teams. Purposefully cultivating a sense of community is often overlooked when managing and supervising virtual teams.

However, if you don’t create a vibrant community for virtual employees to belong to, they will find their own community.

Keep reading for four practical things you can do to build community.


Watch the Latest Working Minute video

Last week on the Working Minute video series, I answered the question “How do you reach agreement at the end of a difficult conversation?

Each week a new video with a communication tip, tool or technique is released. Sign up here to get them in your inbox every Friday.


Nuts and Bolts

Things I’m nuts about.

Nextdoor (the App)

If you’re not already using Nextdoor, you’re missing out – big time. Nextdoor is a free, private social networking app, get this: just for your neighborhood! I’ve been using it for more than a year . . . and I’m more connected to my community because of it.

Picture a mash-up of Facebook and Craigslist and you get the idea. Neighborly advice, help finding lost dogs, concert tickets a neighbor suddenly can’t use, furniture or baby gear for sale (or free!). You name it.

Nextdoor is hyper-local to your address and it’s a really easy way to . . . you guessed it . . . develop community in your REAL neighborhood, virtually!


Be well,

Janel Anderson, PhD
Leadership Communication Expert and CEO of Working Conversations


P.S. You can still book Janel for your upcoming summer leadership off-site, keynote or training session.

Many dates in 2017 (and a few in 2018) are already reserved, so book your date while it is still available.

Here’s a brief list of what Janel can provide:

1. Motivational, leadership, keynote and breakout speaking for conferences, conventions, meetings, and events
2. Leadership off-site events, particularly for the technology, manufacturing, education and government sectors
3. Consulting to improve organizational culture and communication
4. Executive coaching to improve strategy, leadership, and profits

Call Janel at 612-327-8026 or email Janel at to see if your date is available.

email facebook linkedin twitter

Leave a Reply