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June 17, 2020

Five Ways to Increase Engagement of Virtual Teams (Part 3 of 3)

Note:  This blog series is based on one of our new “Work from Home Series” of LPM tools and templates.

In this last part of our blog series on increasing engagement of virtual teams, we discuss ways to create an open team culture and foster shared vision, outcomes, and a sense of purpose.

Trigger Words Table_May 2020Action Step 4:  An open team culture

In an open team culture, every­one feels heard and is free to ask for help when they need it.  Building this type of culture takes time as team members get to know each other and build rapport and trust.  An open cul­ture requires an understanding of each team member’s perspective and preferred approach to work.

Although a full discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this article, at a minimum, team members should have a sense of the impact of their words, and they should try to conform their behavior to high standards to avoid generating defensiveness in other team members.  The chart shown at right, which appears in our online LPM library, offers a few tips to help.

Another way to create an open team culture is to hold periodic virtual meetings to review lessons learned. Here are a few examples of the types of questions your team might want to address as part of a Lessons Learned Review:

  • What did we do well?
  • What could we do better?
  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What actually happened?
  • What were the positive and negative factors?
  • How well did we meet client objectives?
  • Were all deadlines met?
  • How well did we communicate with each other?
  • How well did we communicate with the client?
  • Did we manage fees and expenses well?
  • What have we learned and what can we do better next time?

Action Step 5:  Shared vision, outcomes, and a sense of purpose

The primary task at the start of any legal project is to set objectives and carefully define the project scope with the client and with your team. Doing so will align mutual expectations.

A Statement of Work (SOW) must fix the boundaries of what is within the reasonably expected scope for the matter and what is not. The details of contents and format will vary depending on the circumstances, but could include:

  • The client’s objectives
  • Detailed deliverables such as the number of depositions
  • Deadlines or expected timelines
  • Teams and roles, if relevant
  • Assumptions and exclusions
  • Risks
  • Budget or fee as well as payment terms

The first draft of the SOW should be shared with both the client and the team members for their review and input. Your team needs to understand the client’s goals and expectations and align them with the team’s overall approach, focusing on the business problem or dispute from which the matter arises and on acceptable outcomes and deadlines for the client.  For that reason, you must ensure that every team member is familiar with the final project objectives. It does not hurt to remind them of the client’s objectives by way of regular e-mails and during virtual meetings.

Conclusion

Managing a legal team or a client matter becomes significantly more challenging when your team is working remotely.  We have provided you with a sampling of LPM tools and templates that can help you engage lawyers and other legal professionals that are working from home.  Many more examples are available in our online library of LPM tools and templates.

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