In his HBR article “Getting Virtual Teams Right” in late 2014, Keith Ferrazzi mentions the case of an engineering firm which found that a significant factor in exceptional virtual team leadership was past experience. Given the complexities many team leaders face, those who have walked in our shoes before can provide valuable insights. While each one of our experiences as virtual team leaders will be different, the role of mentoring in virtual team leadership development is often under-leveraged.
Here are several items to consider if you are integrating a mentoring component within your virtual team leadership development initiatives:
- Identify potential mentors who bring past experience and would like to share their learning/experience with others;
- Consider how you want to pair people – is it on regional experience, programmatic experience, role similarity? You may also want to consider the value in matching people cross-functionally.
- Provide a frame or broad structure. Formal mentoring programs usually have a start and end point. Will the support run over a 6 month period, 9 month period, other? Consider what will work best in your context?
- What supports would be useful to provide mentors and their protégés/mentees (the people being mentored)? In the mentoring training and program development work I undertake we can provide training and also a toolkit of resources
- What are common theme areas mentors and protégés may have as a back up? This could include discussion around work-life issues, virtual team support, virtual team development, addressing tricky issues, different platforms you use for connection etc. Make a list of the different focus areas which would be useful.
Join me with the hashtag #letstalkvirtual a hashtag I am using for my forthcoming book on Effective Virtual Conversations. I'll be using this hashtag on posts related to more effective virtual conversations as well as virtual team development and virtual team leadership.
Have a great Wednesday,