Before I get beaten up, I’d better clarify that I have worked with hybrid teams since they existed. Multi-time zone teams, in situ and at home, Japanese and Israeli; Australians and Singaporeans; Chinese and a CBC (Canadian born Chinese) founded companies in Vancouver-I’ve been everywhere.
Different people have different genetic weaknesses; so do different breeds of dogs. My senior dog George, for example, suffers from epilepsy. Most poodles do. His hind legs ain’t so good. That is common for a 14 year old dog. It is built into his genetic code. Various types of teams also have certain special types of weaknesses.
In this brief post, I want to share the unique types of troubles facing hybrid teams, with a special emphasis on teams where some people are in an office and others are working from home.
- The people in the actual meeting room will generally be more involved than those at home.
- Those at home will be more distracted and tend to play around with their mobile and and lose track of what is going on.
- There may be less active discussion about contentious issues in hybrid teams, but there may be less committment to decisons made. Often feigned commitment initially goes unnoticed in hybrid teams.
- Trust building capabilties is THE critical skill set for members of a hybrid teams. Some people just do not have that skill, and they should be shut off from participating unless they can adapt or be trained. Some people cannot adapt well; examples includes people who cut other people off, never shut up and who have very poor listening skills.
- Hidden agendas in multi-national teams abound. They are the cancer of this form of organizing. The most common hidden agenda is a desire to control your own destiny. The ‘other’ team causes anxiety because of the built in dependence.
- The rarest commodity in a multinational team is trust. It is rarer than a face mask in a Texas mall. As the link illustrates, trust even means different things to different cultures.
- People who have never met can work very well together. Yet when they meet, their interaction will change, probably for the better. So whatever the cost or circumstance, organizations should always, always, encourage f2f meetings. It is not old-fashioned. It is effective.