NetSpeed Learning Solutions May 2017
Less Conflict!
More Productivity!
Is there more or less conflict when teams work virtually? You might think that once you work from home (or a remote office), there are fewer people to get on your nerves and therefore your work environment will be more peaceful and conflict-free. The reality is that conflict may be hidden for a time but it is still present. And in some cases, conflict may occur more easily because you can't see your coworkers and observe their activities.
Differences in style, personality, and work methods are present even when we work across geographic boundaries. A couple of years ago, when working with a virtual team, we had a virtual meeting to review a course we had designed. Two people on the client's team had spent many hours with an instructional designer working through a solid design process. At the review meeting by phone, a new person commandeered the discussion and proceeded to take the design apart, pointing out why she thought various elements were not important or not to her liking. She dominated the conversation which was frustrating to everyone involved. We received text messages in the background from the other members of the team apologizing for what was happening. The new team member didn't seem to understand her role, the process, or why she was asked to the meeting. Without being able to see our faces, because no one was on camera, she just went on a tear, literally tearing apart the course. When she finally ran out of steam, her coworkers thanked her for her input and the call ended.
If you examine the underlying causes of conflict in this example, four stand out: failure to clarify roles and responsibilities; lack of perspective or project history; personality or style; and finally, the inability to see each other over web cameras to read facial expressions and body language. This fourth cause is unique to working in a virtual environment. What organizations are beginning to recognize is that a project team's use of web cameras makes it possible to read non-verbal messages. That open channel of visual communication has the potential to minimize ambiguity, clarify communication, and reduce conflict.
If you'd like to learn more about how to reduce conflict and increase productivity in virtual environments, join us at our next one-hour, complimentary webinar, Strategies to Reduce Conflict in the Virtual Workplace, Wednesday, May 17 at 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT.
Download an ebook to help deal with difficult or challenging coworkers, Peer Patterns: Nine Behavior Types and How to Work with Them.

Cynthia Clay signature
Cynthia Clay
Virtual Trainer Tips:
You Make a Difference!
Cynthia Clay
I recently spoke at the Training Industry Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. While I was standing in the Exhibit Hall, a woman ran up to me and gave me a big hug. She exclaimed, "You probably don't remember me, but you made a huge difference in my life about two years ago. I called you and told you that we had been given the directive to transition to virtual training delivery but we had been given no budget. For 45 minutes I asked you questions and you told me everything you would do if you were in my shoes. I wrote it all down and I did everything you suggested! We have an amazing virtual training program now and I've been promoted!" Then spotting her boss, she grabbed her by the arm and said, "I want to introduce you to Cynthia Clay. This is the woman who made it all possible for us to transition to virtual learning."
My ego was thoroughly fluffed and buffed after that encounter. And I'm grateful that she took the time to tell me about my impact. What a gift that was! So my questions for you today:  
  1. Can you recall a time when you made a positive impact on the life of someone you trained? Take a moment and acknowledge yourself for your contribution.
  2. Is there someone in your life who has made a positive impact on YOU? Have you acknowledged them for their impact? If not, take a few minutes to say "Thank you - you made a difference in my life!"
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