Leveraging KM, Collaboration, & Communication Techniques in the Virtual World: Optimizing Virtual Work Hubs #KMWorld


Speakers: Kim Glover, Director, Innovative Learning & Knowledge Mgmt., TechnipFMC; and Tamara Viles, Innovative Learning & KM Program Manager, TechnipFMC

Session Description: A few months ago, we thought the virtual workplace was a bullet train. But the COVID-19 crisis has upgraded our journey from bullet train to supersonic jet. Working optimally in the virtual environment went from being a nice to have to an absolute must. This session addresses head-on the challenges of working virtually, including trust and communication issues, isolation, variable productivity, and accountability, and provides practical and creative techniques for addressing the challenges so that teams cannot just survive but thrive in the virtual environment. It shares specific and candid examples that leverage KM, collaboration best practices, and communications tools and techniques to help remote teams ensure productivity, stay connected, build trust, and safeguard business continuity. Take home immediately implementable strategies for leading a strong, productive team in the new virtual work world, whether to lead a team, a project, or just your own self-directed work.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld Connect 2020 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • 2020 Realities — this year, the Learning & KM team at TechnipFMC had to pivot to focus on how to optimize virtual work.
    • Their organization wants virtual EVERYTHING.
    • Learning & Knowledge are viewed as “first responders” within the organization.
    • They are seeing increased partnerships with back-office functions (legal, communications, finance, etc.)
    • Given the increased demand, the Learning & Knowledge team could not serve each internal customer individually. Instead, the team focused on “teaching people how to fish.”
    • “Knowledge is the currency, and virtual is the exchange system”
  • Tips for Leading Virtual Teams
    • Provide more structure and co-create rules. Keep focused on the things that enable effective work.
    • Establish consistent practices.
    • When developing metrics, focus on results rather than standard operating procedures.
    • Mitigate ambiguity (and anxiety) by explaining the big picture, as well as individual roles and why they matter
  • How to establish structure and rules
    • Over-communicate, elaborate and anticipate needs
    • Create a team charter collectively with your team.
      • This process will create energy and focus. The content varies from team to team. At a minimum, it should cover team goals, values, and expectations.
    • Make sure your charter includes communications expectations when the team is working virtually.
  • Cultivate accountability through visibility
    • Performance
      • Virtual team members needs to take more responsibility to meet deadlines so accountability is critical
      • Set expectations and define success clearly
      • Use results-based metrics
    • Trust
      • Trust elevates team performance — a team that trusts is less anxious and more productive
      • Task-based trust is vital to virtual teams
    • Signs of low trust
      • silos within sub-groups
      • low credibility in the commitments of others
      • virtual leader or other team members micromanage
      • low productivity or missed deadlines
      • open negativity
      • unresolved conflicts
      • information hoarding
    • Ways to increase visibility, accountability, and trust
      • Use dashboards to increase transparency
      • Use a Kanban board or another tool to share what you are working on
      • Use a daily huddle in which each team member discusses what worked yesterday, and what they are focused on today.
      • Use alternative tools to increase knowledge-sharing and fun. Kahoot is a great example of such a tool.
      • Keep your calendars open to your team (including your personal appointments). This helps team members get to know the “whole” you.
    • Increased communication
      • Increased communication reduces anxiety and isolation
      • Connect with your teams 3 times more than you would when co-located
      • Establish regular team meetings
      • Team leaders need to be even more visible and accessible
      • Use one-on-one meetings to keep abreast of work progress and to check on well-being. Being on camera is critical for this.
      • Use the chat function for informal check ins
      • Ask for feedback — try survey tools or just simple conversation
      • Managing conflict is more important — the physical distance can make it more difficult to interpret tone/mood and also can make it easier to ignore issues that are brewing
      • Try virtual coffees and happy hours to keep team spirit alive.
      • Start the virtual practice of “popping your head in the door” by which team members can ask a quick question that will get immediate response.
      • Keep a blog to motivate the team.
    • Foster Community
      • Communities create a sense of belonging, increased trust
      • Virtual water coolers — allow social chat
      • Virtual ceremonies — help you celebrate wins and acknowledge successes
      • Encourage team members to share their own stories
      • Ice breakers help team members learn more about each other
      • Open calendars give more information about team members
      • Identify and share leadership opportunities
      • Have a team nickname
    • Additional Activities
      • Team Workshop on Leading a Team Through Adversity:
        • Start by showing the common challenges of 2020.
        • Then ask individuals how they are responding and rising to the challenges.
        • Finally, play the UNESCO video, The Next Normal.
      • Use a canvas-based tool to build your team charter
      • Ask team members to take a virtual leadership self-assessment. They don’t need to broadcast their scores. But they should use the exercise as an opportunity for self-awareness and reflection.
    • How to have a better virtual meeting
      • use avatars for team members who aren’t physically present
      • schedule consistent team meetings but rotate time zones
      • assign roles and start with a roll call
      • send agendas and materials in advance
      • send questions in advance so that introverts can “pre-ponder” them and respond in writing if they prefer
      • use a “round robin” to develop understanding and consensus
      • everyone should “be on camera” and limit distractions (to prevent multitasking and enable people to “look each other in the eye”
      • make sure all team members know how to use the communications technology and ensure that it works well across all geographies

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